Small cars with two pedal control can sometimes disappoint the driver. But if they are engineered correctly, a small city car with a CVT gearbox can sometimes be the automatic choice. Other good news is its vastly improved build quality. Its becoming a rather good little car…
CLICK HERE for the full review of the manual Honda Jazz
The Honda Jazz is without a doubt a very clever car indeed. The use of available space puts an original Mini to shame, the engineering is well regarded and its very well equipped albeit slightly expensive compared to rivals. The cunning rear seat arrangement still impresses and good news at last… build quality now meets the very high standard of when the car was assembled at Swindon – current Jazz is now Asian built and the last test car had a rather poor paint finish.
The CVT model on test comes with the only engine option available in the Jazz – a 1.3 16v petrol with 102PS of power. When mated to the manual gearbox there is a notable lack of low down torque (123Nm@5000rpm) which makes the car a bit of a chore to drive around in unless you really make it rev. With a CVT though its actually become a bit of fun thanks to the revving nature these gearboxes need to get the best from them.
Extra features include the option of a sport mode and the facility to drive it as a semi-automatic thanks to seven pre-set gearing parameters at your fingertips via steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. In urban driving its smooth and refined but a quick exit from a roundabout requires a little more squeezing of the throttle than you’d imagine. The way around this is to quickly pop the leather clad selector lever into the “S” position, for the rest of the time round the doors driving in the CVT Jazz is quite pleasant.
When driving out and about further afield the slightly lethargic throttle response is still noticeable, but its all down to getting used to the driveline. If you really drive 10/10ths you’ll notice some harshness from up front but general progress is reasonably good if you’re not in a desperate rush. Motorway or highway driving however is really quite good. Once the car is sitting at the legal maximum on a flat level road the highest ratio available to have engine spinning at well under 2500rpm.
The Jazz will return some impressive fuel figures in this environment too. In fact they claim the CVT to return just over 2 mpg more on the combined cycle than the equivalent manual version. Official figures say 57.6mpg where we found it gave back a decent 54mpg which isn’t that bad at all. As mentioned already, the driveline seems well engineered. There’s no weird whining and whizzing noises so symptomatic of other CVT systems and if you drive with a lighter right foot the whole driveline is silky smooth and relaxing.
Other differences? well there’s little to mention apart from the vastly improved build quality and paint standards over the rather disappointing last model I sampled. Its now up there with the best of rivals and even though my own personal choice would always be a manual… I quite liked this CVT version – I just wish they give it a little more power and perhaps offer a sportier version.
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 8/10
Model Tested: Honda Jazz EX (Navi) CVT 1.3
Price: £17,705 ex options
Driveline: 1.3 VTEC petrol with electronic CVT automatic gearbox
Power: 102PS & 123Nm of torque
Performance: * 0 – 62 in 12.3 seconds with 113mph max
Economy / Co2: * Combined average 57.6mpg (53.7mpg on actual test) 114g/km
* = Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
WHATS HOT: Improved paintwork quality matches rest of the Honda range – Sweet and refined during normal driving – Motorway cruising very good – Clever seats and use of space – Decent fuel consumption when cruising – Generally good fun to drive – Head and legroom are both superb with massive boot.
WHATS NOT: Prices are a bit expensive – Gets noisy when hurried – A bit lethargic around town until you get used to the throttle response – Drivers seat needs more thigh support – Needs a sportier trim level to combat its unfair OAP image.
For more information on the Honda Jazz CLICK HERE