Honda has the most inconsistent and bizarre product planning for any car company.
It produces a hugely popular car like the S2000 roadster and then dumps it just because its engine won’t pass European emissions tests.
Other companies would have modified the engine or replaced it with a new and cleaner one.
Then there was the brilliant little CR-Z, the world’s only affordable sexy hybrid coupe, sent to the great scrapyard in the sky after only a few years of life.
But the Jazz is different. Honda has never messed with this strong seller and instead just tweaks and gradually improves it over the generations.
It has an immensely loyal following with 60% of customers moving from a Jazz to a new one.
It offers a high level of practicality and clever use of space combined with excellent reliability and ease of use. One thing that has changed on this new Jazz is that there’s a version available called the Crosstar.
The recipe is a familiar one – add some plastic cladding around the wheel arches to give the faux off-roader look and a hint of adventure lifestyle, and crank up the ride height by a few millimeters too.
Since the Jazz has traditionally appealed to the older driver this is interesting. We have both the normal Jazz to drive and the Crosstar.
The standard Jazz is available in SE, SR and EX trim levels, while the Crosstar is only available as a top-level EX.
Honda’s sales department reckons that only 10% of new Jazz sales will be Crosstar models but I think that’s pessimistic.
Why? Because it looks more attractive than the regular Jazz. The Crosstar is 45mm longer, 31mm wider, and 30mm taller.
Both are powered by a 1.5-liter petrol engine that develops 97bhp. This is combined with two electric motors, one a generator and the other a propulsion motor.
There are three driving modes: EV Drive in which a lithium-ion battery powers the propulsion motor; Hybrid Drive in which the engine drives the generator which in turn powers the propulsion motor; and finally Engine Drive in which the petrol engine does all the work via a lock-up clutch.
The first thing you’ll notice when you step into the new Jazz from the old one is a much better view out the front.
The A-pillars are considerably thinner and the cabin feels airier too. What hasn’t changed is the clever use of space and the wide range of storage places, from large door bins that can hold a drinks bottle to handy oddments storage across the dashboard.