All that Jazz

in Motoring Insight

The differences are very easy to spot from the exterior. The Jazz is the typical five-door hatch. But the Crosstar has a different front grille, black cladding around the wheel arches, lower sills and integrated roof rails. It also has a raised ride height to help it over more difficult terrain, but it is not an off-roader or 4×4, although its appearance gives that impression.

The Jazz has been on the market since 2001 and in those 20 years it has sold well, but not been remarkable, it has often been regarded as just a dull car, driven mainly by the elderly, and often seen driving very slowly. I remember clearly seeing one on a fairly clear M1, in the middle lane doing 43mph, I know because I slowed down to follow it, the driver was either being ultra-cautious, or just plain stupid.

I had each of the new cars for a week each from the press department at Honda Uk, first to arrive was the Jazz, and I have to say, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it coming, a week in a Jazz, what will people think??

The first thing I thought when I saw it was, well this looks pretty good and modern. Then I started driving it, and quickly realised it had a brilliant Hybrid system that self-charges as you go.

When setting off it either uses just electric power, or if you push the accelerator a bit harder, the engine kicks in, and you have double the power almost.. well… I wasn’t expecting that. When you take your foot off the accelerator or braking, or cruising down a hill, the engine stops and the battery gets power put into it, to use at a later time. This very clever system makes sure you don’t waste any energy, everything gets used and improves fuel economy and reduces emissions.. the system was so much better than I thought it would be, and I wasn’t expecting that.

The interior, for a small car, is huge, probably has more leg, head and shoulder room than cars in the next “size up”, it is so spacious. Under the back seat there is a large space for storage, and if you don’t know it’s there, it is easy to loose things, as they can slide under there and could be lost forever. Which I found out after buying a meat & potato pie from the local farm shop. I put it on the floor in the rear, got home with no pie to be found anywhere.. the mystery of the missing pie..yes the interior was so much bigger than I thought it would be… and I wasn’t expecting that..

The Jazz is powered by a 1.5-litre i-MMD petrol engine that produces 97ps and coupled to a CVT gearbox, it also has the benefit of the electric motor that produces the equivalent of 109ps, so between the two power sources, it produces quite a kick, the 0-62mph (0-100kph) is a very respectable 9.4 seconds. During the time I had the car, I was alongside a boy racer in his super-up Golf, he saw me, an old bloke in a Jazz, easy he was thinking, I set off quite rapidly using petrol and electric power, and left him standing… well… he wasn’t expecting that…..!

After a week with the Jazz, the Crosstar arrived, and to look at was very different, and I did immediately prefer this model, despite it costing a bit more, but you do pay for Style. But to drive was very similar, so similar in fact, it was the same, just as economical I was averaging 68 mpg (3.459 litres per 100 km) so quite a cheap car to run… and I wasn’t expecting that..

It is certainly well put together and the fit and finish and all the materials used are up to a high quality..

It is not the most dynamic car to drive, but it certainly isn’t dull, it is just a nice car to drive, comfortable and the sort of car you could drive hour after hour, and with such good fuel economy, you don’t need to keep stopping to fill up. It does every thing you need a car to do, and is full of standard equipment, yes, lots of nice goodies.

The boot is relatively spacious, and the rear seats fold down in a very clever and unique way, and as I put it down to test it.. the mystery of the missing farm shop pie was uncovered, it was hiding well under the rear seat squab, thank goodness for that, we could have some tea.

Prices in the UK for the Jazz EX is £22,035 and for the Crosstar is £23,035 that I had on test (OTR).

I don’t really like to admit it, and it pains me to say, even feel a bit embarrassed to have to write these words, but I really enjoyed driving and using the two Hondas… and I wasn’t expecting to say that…

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