Honda adds more fine tuning to Jazz line-up

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HONDA has upped the tempo in the supermini sector with its new Jazz and I didn’t detect too many wrong notes during an early drive in this updated model, writes Allan McIntyre.

It’s been a popular car in the UK since launch nine years ago with over 220,000 sold here and Honda aims to build on this success.

That might not be music to the ears of competitors but it could mean buyers singing the praises of this 2011 Jazz.

The car gets a fresh new appearance, the front looking more sporting with its projector-style headlights - and new colours add more zest to it as well.

Azure Blue, Polished Metal, Urban Titanium and Ionized Bronze are available across the range while the Hybrid version adds two more – Taffeta White and a vibrant Lime Green – you’ll either love it or hate it.

The Lime Green colour of the car I sampled was a bit of a giveaway to the model’s environmental credentials with its Hybrid badging confirming this.

Jazz is the world’s first B-segment hybrid and shares the same 1.3-litre I-VTEC petrol engine as the Insight – it also comes with an automatic CVT gearbox.

I’ve sampled cars with CVT – constantly variable transmission – over the years and there has been a vast improvement in them.

The move between gears was more of a stutter than smooth as early examples of these struggled to find the suitable gear. That’s no longer the case as I discovered in the Jazz 1.3 iVTEC HE Hybrid CVT I enjoyed a drive in.

Selection was quick going up and down the six gears although I did feel the engine was a bit on the noisy side at times when quick acceleration was required.

The Jazz is an ideal town car, manoeuvring well for tight parking, but with its upgrade including improved suspension this particular model was also ideal for long journeys.

The Hybrid isn’t a model that’s going to win you any sprint starts but it is smart enough off the blocks, going from zero to 62mph in 12.1 seconds and having a maximum speed of 109mph.

The 101bhp figure – 87bhp engine/14bhp electric motor – doesn’t look too powerful but the combination gives good acceleration up to a quiet cruising speed.

Ride comfort is good and not just for the driver and front-seat passenger.

There is a surprising amount of room in the back and Honda has improved on its flexible seating with the rear seats now reclining 73mm for additional legroom in the back.

There are lots of little storage areas with no less than 10 cup and bottle holders.

There’s a choice of 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol engines as well as the 1.3 Hybrid which has CO2 emission of 104g/km and 62.8mpg on the combined cycle – meaning free road tax for the first year and just £10 per year thereafter.

My drive involved town, country roads and motorways, and without even trying I averaged a figure of just under 60mpg.

Jazz prices start at £11,295 but you’ll pay a bit more for Hybrid variants with the HE priced at £15,995 and rising to £17,995 for the luxury HX which has leather seats as standard.