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Honda Jazz & Jazz Crosstar

It’s not often a new Jazz comes along, then two at once, in the form of the Jazz, and the ‘pumped-up’ version the Crosstar.

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 be warned it is not an off-roader or 4×4, although its appearance certainly gives that impression.

The Jazz has been on the market since 2001 and in those 20 years it has sold well. The gents on Top Gear regarded it as a bit of a dull car, driven mainly by the elderly, and often seen driving very slowly. I certainly 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 but it definitely stuck in my memory.

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??

However, the first thing I thought when I saw it was, that it looked pretty good and most definitely a modern appearance. 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.

Fir a small car the interior is huge, probably has more leg, head and shoulder room than cars in the next “size up”. I was impressed by it by its capaciousness. 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. I found this out after buying a meat & potato pie from the local farm shop. I put it on the floor in the rear and 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.

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 respectable 9.4 seconds. During the time I had the car, I was alongside a boy racer in his suped-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 you have to sometimes.!

After a week with the Jazz, the Crosstar arrived, and as you look at it, it’s really quite different. I’ll admit I immediately preferred this model, despite it costing a bit more, but you do pay for Style. To drive it was very a very similar experience, so similar in fact, it was a bot of a shame. But it was just as economical – I was averaging 68 mpg (3.459 litres per 100 km) so quite a cheap car to run.

It’s certainly well put together and the fit and finish and all the materials used are up to a high quality. It’s not the most dynamic car to drive, but it certainly isn’t dull, it’s 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. As I put it down to test it. the mystery of the missing farm shop pie was solved, hidden well under the rear seat squab, thank goodness for that, it could have been very unsightly if left unfound for a while.

I don’t really like to admit it and it pains me to say, I even feel a bit embarrassed to have to write these words, but I really enjoyed driving and using the two Honda Jazz’s. Price wise in the UK are £22,035 for the Jazz EX and for the Crosstar expect to pay £23,035 for the one I had on test.

Martin Ward

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