Car Test   R0266
  See also R0237 
September 2002
  Honda Jazz - Automatic
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.4SE Sport CVT-7
Honda’s stopgap supermini was a flop- the Logo was no go. However, its successor, the Jazz (known as Fit in Japan), promises to be the real thing- a big player in the B-segment dominated by Fiesta, Fabia, Yaris et al.
   Clever packaging, thanks to the short-nosed/ tall build design, gives spacious accommodation. Whilst rear legroom isn’t much to write home about (it’s no match for several rivals’, for example), kneeroom, headroom and footspace are all generous. There’s also enough width for three in the back, with a trio of “proper” seatbelts.
   Then there’s the Jazz’s nifty party piece. Thanks to the fuel tank’s central location, there are two different ways of folding the 60/40 divided back seat. This so-called “magic Seat” will tip forwards to create a completely flat load floor or, with cushions raised (like cinema seats), open up a spacious load area in the middle of the car. This elegant arrangement is clever, because you still have the seats with you if needs be.
   The front seats aren’t soft, but give the sort of positive support we really appreciated on longer trips. The Jazz needs them because the suspension can’t quell the bumps on a typical British byway, and we found the electric steering too heavy and uninformative; these are Honda’s twin Achilles heels- reflected in the Civic, as well.
   However, one can’t but be impressed by what’s under the bonnet. An all-alloy engine, looking pristine, is in this case, married to a special automatic. Until recently, only Rover and Nissan seriously offered continuously variable small automatics (CVTs) rather than the user-friendly but inefficient torque converter-type, where loss of both acceleration and 6-8mpg is commonplace.
   This is Honda’s second dabble (we’ve already tested the previous Civic automatic – see R9675). That was a good’un, so we’re not surprised that this Jazz is even more impressive. Not just in mechanical efficiency, but for a smooth, glitch-free drive, this CVT, even in seven-speed mode, is now indistinguishable from a stepped, torque converter-type. This stepped mode can be used as seven-speed automatic or as a sequential manual (via wheel-located rocker switches), and in the latter mode, we achieved the best acceleration times, as the engine revved up to peak power.
   In fact, this is implicitly the transmission’s biggest shortcoming – it won’t go beyond 5000rpm in Drive until well past 70mph, so the engine is never allowed to develop full power in D. This is daft – automatic owners shouldn’t have to resort to manual control to enjoy ultimate overtaking ability. Less fuel is consumed in the continuously variable D slot, so there’s every incentive to use it.
   In fairness, the ratios are set to give the same cruising revs in both D and seven-speed mode, so motorway progress is as relaxed and almost as frugal. Not so in Sport (S), however – this winds up the spool to give a sprightlier accelerator response than in Drive.
   One of the nice things about the Jazz is the generous level of equipment and trim even on the ‘basic’ S version – with identical power units, as well – but not this CVT option. Our choice would always be the mid-range SE, however – for the extra £1300 you get some really worthwhile enhancements inside, including both sunroof and air conditioning, with an extra £900 required to go automatic.
   Careful fit and a good finish (so long as you like dimpled plastic) give the cabin a quality feel and everything works nicely, too.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
  • various displays more accurate than most
  • rotary knobs for radio tuning; volume control on right
  • easy, undemanding gear selection - no interlocks with brake or key
  • three interior lights - well spaced
  • centre air vents don't work on 'screen/floor' positions
  • easy to go into S by mistake, from neutral
  • no left footrest despite lots of room for one
  • rear intermittent wipe only on Sport
Slightly shorter outside than most of the latest brood of superminis, the Jazz more than makes up for this inside, thanks to its ingenious seating and generous cargo area. This automatic adds to its grown-up bigger-car feel – it really is very relaxing on longer runs, as well as being less fraught in the city. Yet the fuel forecourt experience remains faithful to the Jazz’s economy-car aspirations. With more deft steering and a more compliant ride, it would qualify as the definitive small car that feels more expensive than it is.

engine 1339cc, 4-cylinder petrol; 83bhp at 5700rpm, 88 lb ft at 2800rpm; belt-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 7-speed or continuously variable automatic; front wheel drive; 25.6mph/1000rpm in 7th or Drive mode, 19.7 in Sport mode - cruising on level road
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs
  steering electric power assistance; 3.6 turns lock-to-lock; 10.1m diameter turning circle between kerbs (17.1m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear, with anti-lock and brake-assist controls on SE and Sport   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 185/55R15V tyres on SE Sport (175/65R14 on 5.5in steel wheels on S and SE versions); temporary use (steel) spare

size and type 5-door supermini (mid-priced)   trim levels S, SE, SE Sport
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.35 litre/83bhp;
diesel: none
  drive front-wheel drive; 5-speed manual; optional continuously variable automatic with 7-speed automatic and manual sequential modes

HOW THE JAZZ AUTO COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Honda Jazz CVT-7 4/1339/83 2750 13.5s 43.5/139+ 14/27 107 95/74 3.6/10.1 383
Fiat Punto Speedgear 4/1242/80 2500 14.2d 38/155 13/26 111 96/68 2.8/10.8 384
Rover 25 1.6 Steptronic 4/1589/107 2800 10.3d 34.5/178 25/28 107 97/70 3.0/10.3 399
Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Easytronic 4/1199/75 3700 14.4a 45/151 14/24 106 95/70 2.9/10.4 382
Nissan Micra 1.4 CVT 4/1348/82 2640 12.1d 41/147 18/25.5 100 92/67 2.8/10.6 375
Seat Arosa Auto 4/1390/60 3530 17.2d 36.5/180 18/28.5 105 93/62 2.9/10.1 354
  + 137 on S and SE  d in drive  s stepped auto  a autoshift

Gear selector easy to use, but with three extra wheel-mounted buttons for manual/stepped changes, newcomers may feel confused. However, there's a clear display to say which mode is selected - S and D are best in daily use.
Steering effort is a shade weighty for some potential users, but this car's wheel response in initial movement was better - they seem to vary. Very grippy and alert cornering on this Sport's lower-profile tyres.
Perhaps the S/SE (on 65-Series tyres) are more compliant - this one's ride is far too agitated. Seats make amends, though, and the long-legged stride of this CVT is a great boon on longer trips. It also has a very smooth take-up, unlike earlier CVTs.

This is a livelier performer than most smaller automatics, but it's a shame its best acceleration isn't attainable in the normal, D position. A quick flick into S does the trick, however.
  acceleration in seconds in Drive in Sport in 7sp mode (to 5700rpm)
  20-40mph 4.7 3.9 4.0
  30-50mph 6.2 5.2 4.8
  40-60mph 7.7 6.5 6.3
  50-70mph 9.8 8.6 8.7
  30-70mph 16.0 13.8 13.5
  max speed in each mode 
  mode Drive Sport 7sp mode
  speed(mph at rpm) [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]

Around 2mpg different from manual version, in every sort of use - far better than a torque converter-type automatic. Beware of using S or the 7-speed stepped mode, however - CVT efficiency is compromised, as our tables show.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) - in Sport/Drive 28/30
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) - in Drive 38
    motorway (70mph cruising) - in 7sp Auto/Drive 37.2/38
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) - in 7sp Auto/Drive 42.5/45.5
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) - in 7sp Auto/Drive 46.5/53
    overall mpg 43.5
    realistic tank capacity/range 36/345
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 39.2/55.4/47.9
    CO2 emissions 137 - 139g/km
    car tax band B

Excellent tally of injury-prevention features, with a 4-star NCAP rating on the cards; kinder to pedestrians, too. Brakes have nice progression (brake-assist works well), but best stop unexceptional.
  from 50mph (with brake assist/ABS)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     29m
sudden 14kg     27m best stop
+4kg ie 18kg     27m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Apart from restricting front seat-movement by 2-3cm, the back seat adaptability is admirable - and so easy to achieve! Exposed nether regions fully trimmed, too. Boot space bigger than rivals' when four aboard.
  in centimetres (5-door hatchback)
  length 383
  width - including mirrors 188
    - mirrors folded 168
  height (no roof bars) 153
  load sill height (inside/outside) 15/63
  turns lock-to-lock 3.6
  turning circle (metres) 10.1
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 82-107
    - headroom 94-97$
  rear - typical legroom 95
    - typical kneeroom 74
    - headroom 94
    - hiproom 127
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 64-146
  full length to facia 235
  load width 101-130
  load height (to shelf/top of aperture) 56 90§
$ with sunroof  § max height 123cm (inside)

Numerous features here - most incorporated even on the cheapest version. Key-locked filler cap OK once you've got the knack. Handset an add-on, not incorporated into the key, but there's a reassuring interior locking button inside.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)   
self locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
NCSR - "theft from" not available
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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