Bows Honda Homepage - (c) Honda, Japan Logo des Honda Jazz


June 30, 1984
S. 24 - 27

Titelbild der Zeitschrift

Marching to a different tune?
Honda JAZZ tested

Road Test No. 31/84

Tall, short and nippy with exellent fuel economy - this is what Honda's new-to-the-UK Jazz is all about. Is it simply a truncated Civic, or does its "maximised inner space" design make it an important trend-setter?

Honda Jazz

Packaging efficiency is the term widely used in the car industry to express how roomy a car is relative to its outside dimensions. Honda talk in terms of their "inner space" design concept. It means the same thing.

The Jazz - called the City in Japan, where it has been produced since 1982 - is shorter than rival supermini cars thanks to the use of a high roof line. The extra headroom available permits a more upright driving position than usual, so that occupants need less fore and aft space than they do with a conventional design. At least that is the theory...

Even including the prominent front and rear bumper mouldings, the Jazz's 134 in overall length is an inch shorter than the Austin Metro, yet it is more than an inch taller than the Fiat Uno, and Daihatsu Charade CX High Roof, both notably upright designs. There is nothing inherently new in the tall-town car concept, though, as the Renault 4 and Fiat Panda demonstrate.

The Honda is in much the same utilitarian mould as these established designs, but it cannot be considered as a direct competitor to them. Priced at £ 4,315, it will be compared with mid-priced superminis such as the Austin Metro and Fiat Uno. How can Honda justify a premium price for such a small urban runabout? Are they exploiting their reputation for producing well-engineered small cars eminently suited towards Europe?

The bold styling will undoubtedly have its detractors but at least it breaks away from the bland uniformity of the crop of Japanese and European superminis. Not only does the body shape fail to conform but the engine has quite a large capacity and consequently healthy power output relative to the size and weight of the Jazz. Producing 56 bhp, the Civic-derived engine is slightly more powerful than the 55 bhp of the similarly priced Nissan Micra 1.0 GL (£ 4,418) and the much cheaper Fiat Uno 55 Super (£ 4,165). Close to these three comes the Daihatsu Charade High Roof (£ 4,679) which produces 51 bhp from its 3-cylinder engine. Some 10 bhp adrift of the Jazz are the Metro 1.0 HLE (£ 4,428) and Vauxhall Nova 1.0 L (£ 4,549). At 13.8 cwt, the Honda is light for this class of car, promising good performance and economy.

Honda's first foray into the mini-car scene in the late 1960's - with the diminutive air-cooled N360 and N600 series cars - did not meet with much success in Britain. The Jazz is in many ways a more conservative design. It follows the mechanical layout of the previous generation Civic, sharing a similar all-alloy power unit, five-speed transaxle and all-independent strut-type suspension.

However, there are some important differences as it would be uncharacteristic of Honda to produce a totally orthodox design. The engine is a surprisingly long stroke unit, with bore and stroke dimensions of 66 x 90 mm giving a capacity of 1,231 cc. It has a high compression ratio (10.2 : 1) dictating a four star, 97 octane fuel diet. For compactness, the cylinder head is a non-crossflow design and, unlike the current 12-valve Civic engine, has "only" eight valves. As is usual for Honda, a toothed-belt drive is used for the single overhead camshaft, the fuel system uses a twin-venturi carburetter with a manual choke and the ignition system is contactless. The priority was to produce high torque at low engine speeds, rather than high maximum power. Output figures are 56 bhp at 5,000 rpm and 69 lb ft torque at 3,500 rpm.

Complementing the torquey engine is a five-speed manual transmission - the Hondamatic auto version is not imported. Fifth gear gives a long-striding 21.8 mph/1,000 rpm, fourth, 18.4 mph/1,000 rpm. It is as well to remember that many rivals - notably the Metro, Samba, Nova and Polo - do not have the luxury of a fifth gear, while it is an extra-cost option on the Fiesta.

The Jazz follows the Issigonis-Mini concept of a wheel at each corner; in this case, using 12 in rims shod with 145 section tyres. At the front MacPherson struts are fitted with progressive-rate coil springs while for the rear suspension semi-trailing arms are coil sprung. Despite the tall build (it is not quite as high as it is wide) no anti-roll bars are deemed necessary.

Braking is by servo-assisted front discs and rear drums, with the hydraulic circuits spilt diagonally. Rack and pinion steering is used, geared at just over 3.5 turns lock-to-lock.

The tall, boxy shape inevitably displaces a lot of air and, with a Cd of 0.40 (actually better than the old Civic) it is significantly less slippery than the best of the bunch, the Uno (0.34). Even so, the maximum speed of 89.1 mph, recorded in fourth gear, is better than most rivals can manage. True, the Fiat Uno's better shape gives it a slight advantage (93.4 mph), but the Austin Metro (85.5 mph), Daihatsu Charade CX (84.6 mph) and Nissan Micra 1.0 GL (87.4 mph) are more typical of the average performance for the class.

Gunned through the gears, the Jazz relegates all its rivals to diminishing dots in the rear view mirror. The widely-spaced gear ratios are easily masked by the engine's impressive power characteristics and 60 mph is reached in a very sprightly 12.7 sec - more than a second quicker than the Nissan Micra which is lighter and has a superior power to weight ratio. The Fiat Uno's slippery shape is not much of an asset below 60 mph (it takes 14.2 for the 0 to 60 mph sprint), while rivals like the Austin Metro (18.2 sec) and Vauxhall Nova (18.5 sec) suffer from a considerable power-to-weight ratio disadvantage compared with the Honda. It feels quick too. It is all too easy to provoke an unintentional screech of protest from the tyres, or a burst of wheel-spin in the wet, when moving away from rest.

High gearing does not blunt acceleration in the upper gear ratio, as there is more than enough torque to compensate. The 30 to 50 mph fourth gear increment is covered in 10.8 sec, again beating the Fiat Uno (12.7 sec) - the only rival that produces anywhere near as much torque as the Honda. Mechanically sweet and smooth, the Jazz responds very cleanly to the throttle; the only flaw is a second choke hesitancy which abates after a lengthy warm-up period.

Audibly it is less than sweet when all the performance is used and the engine noise becomes increasingly loud. Throbby induction growl marks open-road progress, while Mini-like transmission whine predominates around town.

But the engine idles impeccably and will spin freely to 6,000 rpm. There is no tachometer, or even gearchange markings on the speedometer, but the handbook suggests maxima of 28, 47 and 68 mph in the lower gears, corresponding to a 5,000 rpm, 500 revs beyond the power peak.

The Jazz is a light and flatteringly easy car to drive. The clutch is smooth and progressive, the gearshift - despite a long, spindly lever - as slick and foolproof as one could wish and a well-cushioned drive-line ensures that the car does not jerk, even if the driver is careless. The lightness of the brakes, though, is a disadvantage so far as smoothness is concerned, giving the impression that you really could literally stand this short car on its nose.

The raison d'être for many small cars is their low running costs. Many makers list special economy derivatives - such as the Metro HLE, VW Polo Formel E and the Fiat Uno ES - but the Jazz does not appear to need this advantage. Given Motor's usual brisk driving - encouraged by the Honda's eager, cheeky, if somewhat unrefined manner - the overall consumption of 40.8 mpg is particularly creditable. It just pips the Metro HLE's 39.7 mpg, though the latter, and the Nissan Micra 1.0 GL, return better touring consumption figures - showing that they have the potential to give better economy than the Jazz, given restraint. The nine-gallon tank gives a phenomenal 434 miles touring range (for a town car), but the filler flap is sited inconveniently on the car's nearside and does not lock.

Some town cars are very adept on the open road. The Jazz is safe and predictable with better stability at speed than one expects, but it does not encourage over-zealous bend-swinging. Firm suspension minimises body roll, but the early onset of tyre squeal followed by strong understeer when you persist inhibits Metro/Nova-style cornering antics. Poor traction when accelerating out of tight corners is another weakness, but there is no tuck-in drama when the throttle is released in mid-bend.

Despite the advantage of independent suspension, the Jazz responds in a very lively fashion to uneven roads. It is always firm and clearly gives the impression that suspension travel is minimal and the wheelbase short - prompting one tester to comment that it was reminiscent of a Morris Minor. There is prominent bump-thump over cats'-eyes and a great deal of tyre roar induced over coarse surfaces. Overall, while no worse than a Vauxhall Nova or Suzuki Sa 310 (which have "dead" beam rear axles), the Honda's ride quality is considerably inferior to the best current small car standards exemplified by the Peugeot 205, Fiat Uno and Talbot Samba.

Headroom is good, but by no means exceptional. It permits a more upright driving position than usual, encouraged, like the Metro, by an "Italianate" driving position. Compared with the Metro, a good deal more rearward seat travel is available, though it is an academic consideration because the steering wheel then becomes out of reach and reduced rear seat leg and knee room relegate the Jazz to a two-plus-two. The seats are not conducive to driving long distances, lacking thigh support and not extending high enough to give any shoulder support. The backrests have stepped recline adjustments and, though the headrests also adjust, they don't extend high enough.

Rear seat accommodation is only adequate, though, even with the front seats in a mid-way position; there is much less room than in a Metro. Getting into the back is awkward, as only the backrests of the front seats tilt.

The out-of-sight sloping bonnet makes it hard to judge the car's forward extremities when parking, but on the road it contributes to the excellent and commanding driver's view. Powerful halogen lights, a rear wiper (which will operate continuously), and a remote controlled driver's door mirror are further assets towards good vision, but the lack of a dipping interior mirror is an obvious cost-cutting compromise.

The minor controls follow usual Honda practice, with indicators and lights controlled by the righthand column stalk and wipers by the left. Our testers appreciated the central horn push on the steering wheel, but not the lack of an intermittent or flick-wipe provision for the wipers. Separate switches for the rear wiper and washer pump are a needless complication - these switches and others are scattered along the facia, unhelpfully without night-time illumination.

Instrumentation comprises a prominent, clearly marked speedometer flanked on either side by temperature and fuel gauges (there is no warning light). There is a tripmeter as well as the usual selection of illuminated symbols, and a quartz clock in the centre of the facia.

The heater responds very slowly to changes in temperature demand, making it difficult to achieve precise settings. Its controls are illuminated. The fan has three speeds and there is a recirculation provision for a quicker wintertime warm-up.

Ventilation is independent of the heater, though the outer fresh air vents are robbed of air when the blower fan is in use. Throughput is weak, but it improves markedly when the sunroof is removed (it stows in the boot) suggesting that the extractor vents - positioned in the lower rear body panels - are ineffective. The bonded-in, flush fitting rear side windows do not open.

There are lots of oddment space and small cubby holes inside the car, including a full-width parcel shelf beneath the dash and a pull-out tray which resides underneath the front passenger's seat.

But, the luggage boot is tiny - much smaller than any of our chosen rivals, and only half the size of the Fiat Uno's.

Folding down the one-piece rear seat makes the Jazz a more useful load carrier, however, and the wide tailgate does at least extend down to sill level.

The Jazz boasts a list of standard fittings which would normally be absent on basic, utility cars. Whereas the Daihatsu Charade's electrically-powered sunroof adds a further £ 200 to the price quoted in our rivals list, the Honda's lift-out glass sunroof is a standard fitment. The radio, clock, remote controlled driver's door mirror, head restraints and cigar lighter will not be found on all the rivals we have listed either.

But there are examples of cost cutting: the interior mirror does not dip, nor does the fuel filler flap lock and there is no rear parcel shelf canopy to conceal the boot contents. There is no vanity mirror either.

While the exterior finish is well up to Honda's usual exemplary standards and indeed, the Jazz certainly feels well screwed together, the interior trim disappoints. Like an early Mini, the windscreen header rail and roof side rails are simply left as untrimmed, painted metal - as are the windscreen and door pillars. The doors are only partially trimmed - with unsightly platic mouldings - and the cloth trimm covering the seat's wearing surfaces does not look particularlys durable.

Noise from all sources pervades the Jazz's interior. Engine, transmission and road noise have been mentioned elsewehere, but at speed wind roar is a problem too. As a town car it is acceptable but it is disappointing that Honda is so far behind the standards achieved by the better European superminis, and even by the standards set by themselves with some of their larger models in their range.

Bystanders stop and stare at the Jazz, proof enough of its radical styling. Whether it has what it takes to establish itself as a cult-car is another matter.

Objectively, it has fine performance combined with class beating economy, it is easy to drive and occupies little space on the road. But by the high standards established by rivals in this class, packaging is poor, the ride is bouncy and noise refinement lacking.

So how much impact will the Jazz make on the UK market? Probably very little. Import restrictions will certainly limit supplies and though it is not outlandishly expensive, rivals offer better value for money. Perhaps the greatest disincentive is that the Jazz is only £ 500 cheaper than the new Civic. And that's a gap that's hard to ignore.

Honda Jazz Armaturenbrett
Large speedo dominates instrument panel

Honda Jazz Motor
56 bhp engine gives class-beating if unrefined performance

Honda Jazz Innenraum
Headroom not as good as it looks and lots of painted metal in cabin

Honda Jazz Cockpit
Upright driving position; plenty of space for oddments


Honda Jazz

15 mph
70 deg F/21 deg C
29.4 in Hg 996 mbar
Dry tarmacadam
  mph kph
Banked Circuit
Best ¼ mile
Terminal speeds:      
at ¼ mile
at kilometre
Speeds in gears (at 5,500 rpm):      
mph sec   kph sec
0 - 30 3.7   0 - 40 2.7
0 - 40 5.8   0 - 60 5.3
0 - 50 8.7   0 - 80 8.6
0 - 60 12.7   0 - 100 13.8
0 - 70 18.2   0 - 120 22.4
0 - 80 29.8      
Standing ¼ 18.9   Standing km 36.0
mph sec   kph sec
20 - 40 13.3   40 - 60 8.2
30 - 50 14.5   60 - 80 9.3
40 - 60 17.0   80 - 100 11.8
50 - 70 22.4   100 - 120 19.0
mph sec   kph sec
20 - 40 10.2   40 - 60 6.3
30 - 50 10.8   60 - 80 7.0
40 - 60 11.4   80 - 100 8.0
50 - 70 14.2   100 - 120 11.1
60 - 80 20.6      
Touring* 48.2 mpg
5.9 litres/100 km
Overall 40.8 mpg
6.9 litres/100 km
Govt tests 45.6 mpg (urban)
57.6 mpg (56 mph)
40.9 mpg (75 mph)
Fuel grade 97 octane
Tank capacity 9.0 galls
41 litres
Max range 434 miles
698 km
Test distance 658 miles
1,059 km
* An estimated fuel consumption computed from the theoretical consumption at a steady speed midway between 30 mph and the car's maximum, less 5 per cent.
NOISE dBA   Motor rating*  
30 mph 68   14  
50 mph 72   18  
70 mph 80   32  
Maximumº 86   48  
* A rating where 1 = 30 dBA and 100 = 96 dBA, and where double the number means double the loudness
º Peak noise level under full-throttle acceleration in 2nd
True mph 30 40 50 60 70 80
Speedo 29 39 48 57 66 75
Distance recorder: 1.0 per cent fast
WEIGHT cwt   kg  
Unladen weight* 13.8   700  
Weight as tested 17.1   870  
* with fuel for approx 50 miles

Performance tests carried out by Motor's staff at the Motor Industry Research Association proving ground, Lindley.
Test Data: World Copyright reserved by Motor.

Cylinders 4 in-line
Capacity 1,231 cc (75 cu in)
Bore/stroke 66/90 mm
(2.60/3.54 in)
Cooling Water
Block Aluminium alloy
Head Aluminium alloy
Valves Sohc
Cam drive Toothed belt
Compression 10.2 : 1
Carburetter Keihin twin choke
Ignition Contactless
Bearings 5 main
Max power 56 bhp (DIN) at 5,000 rpm
Max torque 68.7 lb ft (DIN) at 3,500 rpm
Type 5-speed manual
Clutch dia N/A
Actuation Cable
Internal ratios and mph/1,000 rpm
Top 0.655/21.8
4th 0.777/18.4
3rd 1.041/13.7
2nd 1.526/9.4
1st 2.916/4.9
Rev 2.916
Final drive 4.266
Construction Unitary, all steel
Protection Six-year anti-corrosion warranty
Front Independent by MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Semi-trailing arms, coil springs
Type Rack and pinion
Assistance None
Front Discs, 6.9 in dia
Rear Drums, 7.1 in dia
Park On rear
Servo Yes
Circuit Diagonal split
Rear valve Yes
Adjustment Automatic
Type Pressed steel 4 J x 12
Tyres 145 SR 12
Pressures 26/26 psi F/R (normal)
26/28 psi F/R (full load/high speed)
Battery 47 Ah
Earth Negative
Generator Alternator, 45 Amp
Fuses 17
type Halogen
dip 110 W total
main 120 W total
Make: Honda. Model: Jazz. Maker: Honda Motor Co. 6-27-8 Chome, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. UK Concessionaires: Honda (UK) Ltd, 4 Power Road, Chiswick, London W4 5YT. Tel. 01-995 9381. Price: £ 3,463.55 basic, plus £ 288.62 Car Tax, plus £ 562.83 VAT equals £ 4,315.00 total.
The Rivals

Other possible rivals include the Ford Fiesta Popular 1.1 (£ 4,319), Renault 5 GTL (£ 4,520), Suzuki SA 310 GL (£ 3,999), Talbot Samba 1.1 GL (£ 4,395) and Toyota Starlet 1.0 GL (£ 4,267).

Abmessungen Honda Jazz
Power, bhp/rpm 56/5,000
Torque, lb ft/rpm 69/3,500
Tyres 145 SR 12
Weight, cwt 13.8
Max speed, mph 89.1
0 - 60 mph, sec 12.7
30 - 50 mph in 4th, sec 10.8
Overall mpg 40.8
Touring mpg 48.2
Fuel grade, stars 4
Boot capacity, cu ft 4.8
Test Date June 30, 1984
The Honda Jazz is very easy to drive and has a larger than usual engine size for the class, giving both excellent performance and class-beating economy. But accommodation is very limited, refinement poor, it is starkly trimmed and the ride is uncomfortably harsh; furthermore several items of expected equipment are missing - though it does boast a detachable sunroof. It is expensive, but its "tall build" design does represent an interesting and eye catching approach to the concept of a town car.
Abmessungen Austin Metro
Power, bhp/rpm 46/5,500
Torque, lb ft/rpm 54/3,250
Tyres 135 SR 12
Weight, cwt 14.8
Max speed, mph 86.0
0 - 60 mph, sec 18.2
30 - 50 mph in 4th, sec 17.2
Overall mpg 39.7
Touring mpg 51.0
Fuel grade, stars 4
Boot capacity, cu ft 8.4
Test Date October 15, 1983
In its latest even more frugal version, the Metro combines adequate performance with fine fuel consumption, and a versatile, roomy interior within a compact exterior providing exceptional visibility. Other strong points include handling, brakes, gearchange, instruments, heating, and refined cruising. Despite comfy new seats, the bus-like driving position won't suit all drivers, and some aspects of the ride are disappointing, but overall a fine little car.
Abmessungen Daihatsu Charade
Power, bhp/rpm 51/5,600
Torque, lb ft/rpm 56/3,200
Tyres 155 SR 13
Weight, cwt 14.6
Max speed, mph 84.6
0 - 60 mph, sec 16.7
30 - 50 mph in 4th, sec 15.2
Overall mpg 37.3
Touring mpg 47.0
Fuel grade, stars 2
Boot capacity, cu ft 5.8
Test Date May 7, 1983
Second-generation Charade in its most expensive version is outstandingly well equipped at the price, and delivers competitive performance with very good economy. Unusual three-cylinder engine sounds odd at low speeds but revs smoothly and is relaxed on the M-way thanks to tall five-speed gearing. Good driving position is a plus point and the Charade is reasonably competitive in most other areas of its design, though its ultimate cargo-carrying capacity is limited.
Abmessungen Fiat Uno 55
Power, bhp/rpm 55/5,600
Torque, lb ft/rpm 64/2,900
Tyres 135 SR 13
Weight, cwt 14.2
Max speed, mph 93.4
0 - 60 mph, sec 14.2
30 - 50 mph in 4th, sec 12.7
Overall mpg 35.1
Touring mpg 44.7
Fuel grade, stars 4
Boot capacity, cu ft 9.8
Test Date June 18, 1983
Tested by us in four-speed Comfort form, the Uno Super has a particularly spacious interior and competitive pricing in its favour. Performance, ride, handling and visibility are other virtues. Seat comfort could be improved and though the gearchange is one of Fiat's better efforts it is still not a strong point. With a five-speed gearbox, the Super should give better economy than the Comfort, if not in the same league as the Honda. It is well equipped at the price.
Abmessungen Nissan Micra
Power, bhp/rpm 55/6,000
Torque, lb ft/rpm 56/3,000
Tyres 145 SR 12
Weight, cwt 12.9
Max speed, mph 87.4
0 - 60 mph, sec 14.0
30 - 50 mph in 4th, sec 13.0
Overall mpg 37.0
Touring mpg 52.6
Fuel grade, stars 4
Boot capacity, cu ft 7.4
Test Date July 23, 1983
Equipped with a long-legged five speed transmission and the more powerful version (55 bhp) of Nissan's new 1-litre engine, the Micra GL is one of the most economical superminis, but it cannot quite match the Honda's performance. Further virtues are its capable handling, slick gearchange, comfortable driving position and good visibility. Minor drawbacks are restricted rear seat accommodation and mediocre heating and ventilation system but, overall, it is a very effective contender.
Abmessungen Vauxhall Nova
Power, bhp/rpm 45/5,400
Torque, lb ft/rpm 50/2,600
Tyres 135 SR 13
Weight, cwt 14.5
Max speed, mph 84.3
0 - 60 mph, sec 18.5
30 - 50 mph in 4th, sec 17.5
Overall mpg 35.3
Touring mpg 47.9
Fuel grade, stars 4
Boot capacity, cu ft 7.8
Test Date May 14, 1983
GM's supermini is a typically competent all rounder which doesn't excel in any particular area, but has a combination of virtues which place it among the best in its class. Handling, brakes, gearchange, accommodation, visibility and refinement are all strong points, but in 1.0 litre form, performance and economy are only fair. Heating, ventilation and finish are only average and the ride is poor. It is competitively priced.