Car Reviews

2015 Honda Jazz VTi review

Robert Pepper’s 2015 Honda Jazz VTi review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

Editor's Rating

95%
Modern styling combined with a clever, superbly practical interior and above average handling should see the Jazz on anyone's shortlist for a small hatch.
95

On the outside

“Cute” was one description of the Jazz.  Well, you decide, but it certainly looks modern enough if not eyecatching or particuarly funky.  Our test model is the VTi, bottom of the range below the VTi-S and VTi-L which score bigger wheel and alloys, not just steels with hubcaps.
 
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Room & Practicality

The front row is quite spacious for this class of car, and the front seat has great height adjustment.  Combined that with a steering wheel that is reach and tilt adjustable and you have quite a comfortable front row.  The second is row is comfortably roomy.   The second row seats are excellent too, although middle seat is not for the narrow of buttocks even though there is plenty of headroom and footroom.

And now for the Jazz’s party trick.  Honda have, almost uniquely, decided to make a car that’s actually practical for carrying things. Have a look at this:

rear

There we have a 60/40 rear split, which folds down nearly flat (Honda claim it’s flat, but I think that’s marketing speaking there).  Close, anyway.   There’s 1500mm of space there, which is the same length as the average dualcab ute tray.  Honda call this Utility Mode.  The cargo bay also has some tie-down points and a reasonably effective light.

And look on the right…you can take the front row headrests off, tip the front seats right back and you then have what’s called Refresh mode.  Or, sleep mode.  As someone who has spent the night in plenty of cars I think this is just brilliant, and the Jazz should sell to lots of youngsters who don’t know where they’ll be spending the night.   You can also sit in the rear seats and just use the fronts as a comfy footstool.  This would be a great mode for drive-in movies if you could get to the audio and other controls.

And there’s more.  Check this out Tall Mode:

rear-seats

The second row seatbases flip up and out of the way, allowing you lots of very useful loadspace.  The 40/60 split comes into its own here.

Refresh mode and Utility Mode can be combined to make Long Mode for, well, long stuff.

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The Jazz’s highly practical interior design just byt itself is reason enough for shortlist it.  Don’t think you need it?  Interior space is one of those things you never need until you have it.   Will also mention the seats need little effort to reconfigure, unlike many which require a fair bit of strength in the right place.

On the inside

Aside from the clever seating arrangements, the Jazz interior is unexciting and moderately functional.  Nothing impressed, but nothing depressed either.  Well, apart from the steering wheel which feels plasticky and narrow, especially when cold.  The next trim spec up, VTi-S, has leather-wrapped gearshift and steering wheel which would presumably feel less tacky.
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The infotainment unit is below par. It’s a touch-screen only so it takes a lot of familiarity to operate it by touch for even the simplest tasks, and there’s even spelling mistakes presumably as a result of a poor translation.  There’s no satvav, but you do get Bluetooth for your phone, Bluetooth audio streaming and a reversing camera that works pretty well.  Takes a few more presses to switch from Bluetooth audio to FM radio that is ideal.  You do get quite a detailed description of your fuel use, but this thing uses so little I’m not sure it’s worth caring about.
 
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We turned the background colour red. You can choose from a few hues.

There is voice control, but is unusually hopeless for a 2015 model.  Up front you have one 12v, two USB sockets and an HDMI input.  If anyone reguarly uses HDMI in a car please comment below, otherwise I’m placing that feature in the pointless basket.

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Performance, ride and handling

I think Jazz is the wrong name.  “Buzz” or “Zing” is more appropriate.   Buzz because that’s what the engine sounds like mated to a CVT, and zing becuase that’s how it handles.
 
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A little background.  Back in the day Honda made cars that were sporty and cool.  There was the NSX and the S2000, and in motorsport they had successful motorsports campaigns, Formula 1 world championships among them.  All that was rear-wheel drive, but Honda also was the acknowledged specialist in front-drive hot-hatches, and its high-revving VTEC engine spawned even its own memes, yo
 
Today in Australia there are no Hondas warmer than about room temperature, and the less said about their recent F1 involvement the better, but but we hope the Civic Type R will make its way to our shores.
 
So Honda have a proud sports history, and their expertise in front-drive tuning is apparent even in vehicles as ostensibly staid as the Odyssey It was no great surprise to find the Jazz turns, in grips and goes with a certain eager joy.  It is a lovely little drive, never slow off the mark and certainly not around corners, but not involving enough to be classed a driver’s car.  The ride is pretty good too, comfortable and quiet.  The CVT transmission does the CVT thing of jumping to a specific rev point and staying there while the car accelerates, but in the Jazz that’s kind of cute as opposed to feeling irritatingly wrong.   Press the foot a bit further and the revs jump straight to maximum power of 6000 and the bees under the bonnet go to work zipping you along a bit quicker.
 
A light weight of just over a tonne certainly helps fuel efficiency and handling dynamics.  Wet handling is excellent, although Mrs P did get it to wheelspin off the line. Then again, she could probably get a loaded B-double to spin off the line.  The Jazz was fine with me.
 
Uusually for a budget vehicle the Jazz features sophisticated elecronics to assist cornering.  Honda call one of them Motion-Adaptive Electric Powering Steering, presumably to try and impress people.  Basically there’s a bunch of computers figuring out what the car is doing and helps the car negotiate corners, or stop more safely.  In practice, either the Jazz’s chassis is so well sorted the electronics never kicked in during our test, or they did and I didn’t notice.  Either way it’s good news and well done Honda.
 
There are two lights around the speedo that are either Approving Green or Frowning Blue depending on whether you are driving economically or not.  Yet another pointless attempt by an automaker to get some environmental effiicency points.  I can assure you that driving in the green all the time is not the best way to save fuel.  There is also an Eco button which as usual changes engine, throttle, transmission and aircon settings for fuel conservation. And as usual with these things it it nearly completely ineffective.  If you really want to save fuel go on an economy driving course instead.
 
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Big speedo, so no excuse for speeding tickets. Sub-display to the right is easy to read and cycles through a few useful options.
Parking and low-speed maouvering is easy thanks to the light steering, tight turning circle and good visibilty, although these are not virtues unique to the Jazz in this segment.
 
The steering wheel has a few controls on it which don’t get in the way.  Great that they’re there because that means less time spent pressing the wrong area of the touchscreen.
 
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Hated the steering wheel touch, liked the layout. Speedo lights set to Frowning Blue as we’re stopped.

Quality

Everything clicked when it should click, clunked when it should clunk and generally no concerns on the quality front.   Honda offer only a 3-year 100,000km warranty with 6 years on rust on panels, and in 2015 that is a bit off the pace and not a statement of confidence in the product.  You can purchase Warranty Plus which is good for 5 years / 140,000km and includes roadside assistance.

Pricing & Equipment

Our test car is the base VTi automatic for $16,990 and above that for an extra $3000 or so to make $19,790 is the VTi-S which offers 16″ rims instead of 15″, another 12v socket, climate control, six not four speakers and a security alarm plus a few extra trim items.  The gear shift and steering wheel now become leather-wrapped, which for me would be the big-ticket item but otherwise it’s quite a lot of money for not much extra value.   You could always get an aftermarket auto upholsterer to do the wheel of course.  An extra $500 gets you metallic paint. 
 
Beyond that there’s the VTi-L for $22,490, another $3500 or so and then you get heated front seats, rear park sensors, keyless entry and push-button start, ad some extra trim.  The 5-speed manual is available only in the VTi spec, and uses 6.2L/100km vs the auto’s 5.8.  Fuel is 91RON not premium 95 or 98, saving a little at the bowser. 

 
As it stands, the VTi has what I would class as the modern basics; cruise control, Bluetooth audio and phone, electric mirrors, automatic, aircon. 
 
The VTi is good value for money considering the first-class practical interior and dynamics.  Beyond that the value equation heads downhill rapidly with the S and L, not that the extra features aren’t useful, but they are expensive.
 
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Safety

The Jazz is 5-star safety rate, scoring an impressive 36.58 out of 37 as late as 2014.  Remember, not all 5-star safety ratings are the same. The car and comes with all the usual modern safety aids, but nothing out of the ordinary.  There are three child restraint points (centre one in the roof, others on the seatback), but no ISOFIX.  The front seats are whiplash-mitigating, the front seatbelts are height-adjustable, and the side airbags are full-length.  
 
The reversing camera has moveable guidelines, which turn Cautious Orange when the steering wheel is turned, and revert to OK Yellow when it’s straight again.  Here’s what it looks like:
 
camera
And here’s a real-life view:
 
rear-sensors
 

2015 Honda Jazz VTi

PRICE :  $16,990  (+on road costs) WARRANTY : 3 years / 100,000 km SAFETY : 5 star (36.58 / 37, tested in 2014) ENGINE : 1.5L petrol POWER :  88kW at 6000 rpm TORQUE : 145 Nm at 4600 rpm TRANSMISSION : CVT  BODY :   3996 mm (L);  1694 mm (W),  1524 mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE :  10.4 m WEIGHT :  1095 kg SEATS: 5 TOWING : 450 kg unbraked, 800g braked, max TBM 45 kg FUEL TANK : 40 litres SPARE : SPACE-SAVERTHIRST : 5.8 L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle FUEL : 91 RON petrol

 The Other View: Mrs P has her say

This car is very easy and light to drive because the steering is very light. The small wheels make for a tight turning circle and easy parking. Visibility is excellent and even though this is a small car, you do not really feel intimidated by bigger vehicles on the highway. It is very quiet, has comfortable seats and good suspension. I was pleasantly surprised by the power and acceleration behind the 1500 engine we had on test.

On the inside the car is very versatile: there is enough room for 4 people and shopping, you can put the seats down, we even managed to fit two chairs standing up and there is room under the backseats for slim storage. I was a bit thrown by the reversing camera, as in reality the objects seem closer than what they appear on camera, leading me to nearly reverse into the car behind. The dashboard is simple and easy to make out without too many buttons to cause distractions as with other Asian built cars.

I did miss a GPS system but perhaps this is an option. It struck me how easy it is to get in and out of this car, compared to the Ranger which is so high and the 86 which is so low. The simplicity of the dashboard and the easy ingress/egress make me think this would be a good car for an older person such as my mum.   If I had a choice in the small car range, I would go for the Fiat 500 because it is funkier, but then that’s just me.

 
jazz-headon
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Nice touch is your own photo as a wallpaper. Tip – I don’t know what size images it take, but it’s definitely not 2Mb and probably anything less than 1Mb.

Honda Jazz VTi image gallery

 

 

 

Find the best demonstrator car deals for Practical Motoring readers around Australia on our Live Deals website. 

Editor's Rating

95%
Modern styling combined with a clever, superbly practical interior and above average handling should see the Jazz on anyone's shortlist for a small hatch.
95

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[…] 2015 Honda Jazz VTi review &#8211. Practical Motoring As someone who's spent the night in plenty of cars I think this is just brilliant. The Jazz should sell to lots of youngsters who don't know where they'll be spending the night. You can also sit in the &#8230. There is voice control. Is unusually … Read more on Practical Motoring […]

AUSDAVIDZ
AUSDAVIDZ
5 years ago

Yes its practical, van like, but its too expensive, has old tech engines v’s even what you get in NZ and Europe etc I think it has that Apple centric maps/navigation and NOT built in Japan either
For mine the best in class is the Mazda2

Ted
Ted
4 years ago

Mazda 2 transmits a lot of noise inside like all current Mazda unfortunately.

PracticalMotoring
4 years ago
Reply to  Ted

It’s interesting you say that, Ted. In the past when commenting about Mazda6, after driving it across our test loop which includes perfect highway bitumen, broken roads, fast and tight corners and dirt, we determined the underbody insulation was a little light on. Mazda said PM was the only outlet to think that, so it’s nice to see a reader draw the same conclusion.
We consider it our job to praise and criticise when due because, at the end of the day, the reader needs to know the warts and all truth of a new car they might be considering… Cheers Isaac.

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper