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Used car focus: Honda Jazz – 2002 on

The Honda Jazz is one of the cleverest superminis around. It’s a thoroughly modern design that’s innovative in its use of space, with remarkably good head and rear legroom. It has good specification and is fitted with frugal and characterful engines. The Jazz is at its best in town where it’s both user-friendly and fun to drive.

Jazz was launched in early 2002. Base model S model has electric front windows, twin air bags and CD player. SE adds air-con, sunroof and electric rear windows. SE Sport has 15in alloys and side air bags. In late 2004, the 1.2 engine was launched and it replaced the 1.4 S. SE and SE Sport are no longer offered with standard sunroof, but SE models now get alloys.

It’s an easy car to drive around town thanks to its light steering and controls. On A and B roads it feels sharp and composed, with firm and precise gearchanges and responsive brakes. It’s not fun, but certainly safe and predictable. It’s available with a five-speed manual or seven-speed Continuously Variable Transmission.

Steering wheel is fully adjustable and there’s an excellent driving position, although the seats are a little firm, with good all-round visibility from the tall design and large glass areas. The cabin is attractive with chunky switches and buttons in all the places you’d expect them. They’re user-friendly, and intuitive to use.

Jazz got an interior freshen-up in late 2004, which meant a redesigned fascia and self-illuminated controls similar to the Accord on SE and Sport models. Thoughtful use of space means that it seats five without anyone having to breathe in. The seats are comfortable for pottering around town, but not supportive enough for longer trips. Road noise can be a problem: it’s tolerable at low speeds, but on the motorway the drone can become irritating. Despite its tall design, there’s no problem with wind noise and the engine is well insulated.

The range kicks off with a 75bhp 1.2-litre. It’s a peppy unit that’s well suited to town work; it’s quick off the mark and nippy at low speeds. It certainly feels quicker than its 0-60mph time of 13.3 seconds suggests.

The 81bhp 1.4-litre VTEC engine was the engine that Jazz was launched with in 2002 and it suits most drivers’ needs as it has no problems keeping up with traffic: acceleration is brisk enough for quick lane changing. It’s just as impressive on the motorway, cruising easily at 70mph.

Euro NCAP awarded Jazz four star car for occupant crash protection, three stars for child protection and three stars for pedestrian safety. All have dual airbags (and sidebags on SE Sport), and ABS.

Parkers' Buyers Lines

“Bit too much like a family car for a young professional. My pregnant friends bought one as soon as I showed them mine”

“Quirky – as good as many and better than most”

“Better image than my old Mercedes-Benz A-Class”

Fast movers:

1.4 i-DSi SE
Has a few luxuries, such as air conditioning.
0251-0505: £5,300-9,300

Entry level car is rare, but characterful and economical.
0454-0505: £6,600-7,600

Ones to avoid: Small range, so there are none.

In the workshop:

Cars that arrived in the UK first have harder suspension than later cars; Honda rectified this problem following customers’ complaints. Cars built between June and December 2001 were recalled to rectify a problem with the dipped headlamps, although this only applies to a small amount of early models.

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