Honda’s Jazz hatchback has been a very popular model in recent years, appealing to those who look for reliability and low running costs, but are not too concerned about sporty performance.
However, the Jazz is now available with a more punchy 1.5-litre petrol engine which will widen its appeal to younger buyers who tend to prefer more zesty performance and sharper handling.
The previous 1.3-litre 101 hp petrol engine is still available, but the new 1.5-litre unit packs 128 hp, and with a six-speed manual gearbox (a CVT auto gearbox is an option) delivers a quick 0-100 kph time of 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 190 kph (118 mph). Average fuel economy is 17 kpl (47.9 mpg) and emissions are 133 g/km.
With this larger engine in my upper-spec Sport Navi test model, there was not only an immediate performance boost but a whole new persona for the Jazz because it has also had an exterior make-over to give it a bolder and more potent look, which helps it compete in a tough sector which includes rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and Toyota Yaris.
The Jazz also boasts lighter suspension for more agile handling and a new damper system which improves ride quality, so out on the road it excels with responsive acceleration and assured cornering. It is pleasingly comfortable to drive on urban roads and when you leave the city and need more speed, the car revs eagerly and shows it wants to go.
Clever use of cabin space means the Jazz is bigger inside than you might expect, and has good occupant space front and rear, with wide doors allowing easy access. A large tailgate reveals a 354-litre boot, expandable to 897 litres by folding the rear seats flat. It gets full marks for practicality.
And it score highly for equipment too. Standard kit on this model includes four-powered windows, cruise control, auto lights, touch-screen infotainment unit with connectivity and smartphone mirroring, sat-nav, forward collision warning, lane-keep assistance, and auto city braking system.
Jazz prices start at €16,290 (£14,600) and there are several trim levels, with my Sport Navi version at €20,383 (£18,250).
With the new engine option, forceful new styling and with Honda’s legendary reliability record, the potential market for the Jazz is greatly increased and this sporty version should prove popular.