Cute and compact, Honda’s Jazz did as its name suggested to enliven a Light Car segment that for years had been dominated by some fairly drab vehicles.
Early versions came with 1.3-litre engines and the choice of five-speed manual or sophisticated CVT automatic that delivered smooth power transmission and outstanding economy. 1.3-litre manual cars recorded 4.8L/100km in highway running and 7L/100km under urban conditions.
Honda engines generally deliver excellent power for their capacities but 81kW from the 1.5-litre VVi fitted to the Jazz was outstanding – especially as these cars sold new for under $20,000.
With three doors or five, the hatchback Honda offered sufficient room for anyone needing to cart sizeable items or families with younger children. Accommodation up front was comfortable with well-shaped cloth seats, air-conditioning, electric windows and mirrors and a decent sound system.
Those in the rear had to rough it to a degree; the split-fold seat thin on padding and with oddly designed head restraints.Safety concerns were adequately addressed, with all versions providing dual airbags, ABS brakes, seat-belt tensioners and traction control.
‘S’ versions of the 1.5-litre VTi were distinguished by alloy wheels and a body-kit with rear-window shroud. Other upgrades included a leather-rim steering wheel, fog-lights and improved seating. During 2005 Honda offered a brightly-coloured Vibe version for the same price as a standard VTi.
A 2004 upgrade altered the front and rear lights, brought a new grille and the first in a series of price reductions. Building Australian-spec cars in Thailand rather than Japan delivered savings that could be passed to consumers without any apparent loss of quality.
Around town handling was excellent and let down only by electrically assisted steering that was lacking in feel. Fitting wider, lower profile tyres can help there, but at the price of harming ride quality that’s already marginal.
The front suspension came in for road-test criticism for dealing badly with rougher roads, so if you live or travel in rural areas a Jazz may not be the best choice.
Exceptional levels of retained value means that the sub-$5000 price range will generally be populated by pre-2005 models that have travelled more than 200,000 kilometres. Check that all servicing has been undertaken on time and that items like the brake rotors and clutch have been replaced in the recent past.
- damage to vulnerable rear hatch and lower front splash panel .
- misfire due to failed spark plug or coil-pack.‘frosting’ of the large headlamp covers.
- camshaft and valve train wear result from missed oil changes.
- rear wheel bearing noise in early cars
HOW IT RATES
- Affordability: 7/10
- Durability: 8/10
- Running Costs: 7/10
- On The Road: 8/10
- Practicality 7/10
- BB GUIDE SCORE: 38/50
- BODY STYLES: three and five-door hatchback
- ENGINE: 1.3 or 1.5-litre overhead camshaft four-cylinder with fuel injection
- TRANSMISSION: five-speed manual or variable-ratio automatic
- POWER & TORQUE: 61kW @ 5000rpm, 119Nm @ 2800rpm (1.3)
- SUSPENSION & BRAKES: independent front & rear, disc front/disc rear
- PERFORMANCE & FUEL CONSUMPTION: 0-100km/h 11.9 seconds, 5.9L/100km (1.3 manual)
PRICE RANGE (2002-2005 1.5-LITRE)
FAIR $1800 GOOD $3500 EXCELLENT $4800CARSALES.COM.AU