Santa’s little helper



Modern family heads out for the silly season

SANTA could do worse than trade his sleigh for a Jazz. Wide doors, huge hatch opening, tall ceilings, cavernous cargo capacity, hardy plastic trim, easy manoeuvrability, diminutive exterior dimensions for tight city rooftop parking corners… With the little hatch our main family transport over the Christmas break, the Jazz sure racked up the kays, including a 400km run to Apollo Bay chock-a-block full of a week and a half’s worth of food, bedding, bevvies and pressies – and that was just for the dog.

The so-called Magic Seats are the key to the Honda’s extraordinary flexibility. When recessed deep in the well that is the home for the fuel tank in every other rival (this is known as Utility Mode), the folded rear backrests turn the supermini into a pseudo panel van. Owners ought to be allowed to park these in Loading Zones. Or at least have access to Sandman-style curtains. Honda could make a mint offering a fitted futon bed on the options list.

Anyway, even when weighed down with all our holiday gear, the Jazz hummed along just fine, taking advantage of its ageing but still strong 1.5-litre single-cam i-VTEC’s plumpy torque spread, to provide suitably punchy performance, particularly when passing slower vehicles. And there are plenty of those at Christmas time.

That it also averaged 6.7L/100km over the month of fairly hard driving with the excellent air-con blaring was an added bonus. But the truly unexpected benefit of the heavily burdened Honda was how planted it felt on the back roads around Dean’s Marsh. The extra mass over the wheels helped compress bumps a bit better while making the car less prone to crosswinds (a typical tallboy hatch catch).

But the flat seats, remote steering feel, rattly rear doors (over even mildly bumpy roads – what a disgrace, Honda) and omnipresent road drone didn’t take any holidays this season, undermining what could have been a brilliantly broadspectrum supermini talent.

On the flipside, even five months in, we’re still impressed with just how much Jazz you get for your $16,990 – including the functional, fuel-efficient CVT transmission, panoramic reversing camera, cruise control and Bluetooth phone with audio streaming.

No competitor offers more for the cash.

Which neatly brings us to what we learned about the Jazz during our Christmas break: it’s got the features, power and versatility to cut it as a little load-lugging panel van. If Santa owned one, he would probably call it Dasher.


‘Rally speccing’ the Jazz makes it look a lot more butch, though we were surprised at just how flimsy the crappy wheelcovers are


Date acquired: August 2014 Price as tested: $16,990 month: 2584km @ 6.5L/100km, 7395km @ 6.7L/100km acq t This mon Overall: 7

Mode abode

YOU might already be aware that the Jazz’s rear cushions tilt up to provide a (somewhat useless) walk-through feature dubbed ‘Tall Mode’, but little is known about ‘Refresh Mode’ – where the front passenger seats are slid as far forward as possible with their headrests removed and the rear backrests reclined a few degrees. Wonder no longer. Here’s our narcoleptic stupormodel, Jinx Mathioudakis, demonstrating the Premium Economy-style lounging experience complete with his very own poof!