Honda Jazz (1984 – 1985) Review

Honda Jazz (1984 – 1985) At A Glance


+Cool-looking city car. Engine and gearbox parts are readily available.

-Body parts aren't easily obtained and they rust. Rust can also cause suspension arms to fall off while you are driving.

When it comes to small cars, Honda have always had a unique approach. The Japanese K-class of microcars gave us the N600 and the Z600 coupe – buzz boxes with tiny free-revving OHC air-cooled engine. The Jazz fits perfectly into this lineage, but still managed to cause drivers to stop and stare when it went on sale in 1984.

Using Honda’s ‘tall car’ principle, the short wheelbase city car was able to offer passengers plenty of headspace (even if legroom was minimal). The car was light, too, which helped make the most of its 56bhp 1.2-litre engine. An engine that was designed to offer high torque at low revs to cope with the stop-start nature of city driving.

Equipment at launch included a quartz clock, two-band radio, door-mounted speaker and a cigarette lighter. Road testers also complained of a lack of boot space and the fact that without a parcel shelf anyone could see what you were lugging around.

It didn’t matter, though. The Jazz was great fun to drive in a way that only small Hondas can be. It wasn’t quick (0-62mph came in at 13.4 seconds), but it was nippy. And it was economical too, returning 35.3mpg. But at £4315 it wasn’t cheap – it was more expensive than rivals like the Austin Metro City X, Nissan Micra DX and Fiat Uno 55.

Today, the Jazz still offers a great drive and a chance to stand out from the crowd – if you can find one for sale.

Ask Honest John

I'm moving from a normal automatic to a CVT gearbox - are they very different to drive?

"After nearly eight years of living with the 2015 Honda CRV automatic we are getting the new Jazz in March. I haven't driven a CVT model before, and wonder whether you have any tips for someone who is making a move of this kind? "
Although a CVT gearbox is mechanically quite different to a conventional automatic with a torque converter or a dual-clutch automatic, driving one is essentially the same process for all three - a brake and accelerator - put it in Drive and off you go. However, because a CVT is a 'stepless' transmission and effectively has infinite ratios, what you won't experience is hearing and feeling a change in gears, as you would with a conventional auto or a dual-clutch gearbox. Instead, the engine speed remains constant while the gearbox alters the ratio to provide acceleration with maximum efficiency. If you put your foot down and demand strong acceleration you'll find the engine revs quite high and stays there for some time, which can sound a little alarming if you're not used to it but is entirely normal. What we would suggest is that being smooth with your throttle inputs when accelerating can mitigate this effect - pay attention to the speedometer rather than engine revs to get a sense of how quickly you are accelerating, as the lack of gearchanges can fool you into thinking you are accelerating more slowly than the reality.
Answered by David Ross

What's the best small economical car?

"I am large disabled person who drives a Seat Ateca automatic. I want to buy a small economical petrol auto for two of my offsprings to share. It needs to be an auto because they love the ease of driving in the city. It will be mainly used for local driving, maybe motorway once in a blue moon. I might drive it sometimes or may be a passenger. I had my head set on a Kia Venga or Hyundai ix20 which I can get in and out easily but with a 1.6-litre petrol engine it might not be very economical. I also love and can fit into the previous generation 1.2 Suzuki Swift. Are there any small city cars/small family cars you can recommend as a first car that I can fit in easily? My budget is up to £10k but willing to go higher."
Have you considered a Toyota Yaris Hybrid? It's not the biggest small car, but it will be very cheap to run and is ideal for city driving. It's likely to be extremely reliable, too. Alternatively, we'd recommend a petrol Honda Jazz with the dependable CVT gearbox. It's a very spacious small car.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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