Motoring Writer IAN LAMMING goes all jazz hands over the latest Honda

EEH, don’t they grow up quickly? Look how this little one has shot up. It seems like only yesterday that Honda’s Jazz was a veritable pram of a city car plying the streets and car parks of millennial life.

But two decades of development have gone into the little hatchback and the latest incarnations bristle with the very latest features and even some SUV pretensions.

New Jazz has one eye on the environment and sports Honda’s latest 1.5 litre hybrid motor. The four cylinder petrol/electric powers normal Jazz and also a welcome bulked up version called Crosstar.

Targeting those with active lifestyles, this gets 30mm increased ride height, unique body-styling and wheel design, integrated roof rails and black cladding around the wheelarches and sills. It’s enough to drive you off-road.

Swathes of glass and a two tone paint job – surf blue and crystal black in this case – make Jazz fresh and unrecognisable. The traditional, more mature, buyer will still want one but the new look might also open up the market to younger families.

One thing is certain, Jazz Crosstar is not just a city car. On lengthy journeys it has long legs, plenty of oomph and oodles of kit to keep driver and passengers relaxed and comfortable.

When you approach the Honda in the car park its proportions appear modest enough. Yet when you climb inside it’s a Tardis. Looking forward, the windscreen seems miles away and the dash is a deep, wide expanse of trim. You find yourself driving it with care at first, as if you were in a much bigger vehicle. It’s hard to believe it fits so easily down narrow country, overgrown lanes.

Rear leg room is amazing too for such a class of car. The magic seats slide back and forth and are even covered in waterproof trim so there are no concerns when you drop the backs and load the large space with gubbins – in this case stuff for the charity shops. It really is a big little car.

The interior of the Jazz is suitably modern with virtual dash and large touchscreen. The good thing for the more mature user is that its hi-tech features are easy to learn, which takes the stress out of driving no end.

Another stress-buster is how Crosstar drives on the road. At low speeds the electric motor does the bulk of the work pushing the Jazz forward in complete silence, which proves useful when I come across a couple of horses being ridden down a very narrow road – there’s barely a flick of an ear as I pass quietly by.

But on the motorway the electric and petrol motors combine to great effect providing plenty of poke for overtakes, inclines and motorway cruising. The levels of refinement are very high from both motors, excellent suspensions and effective soundproofing, which keeps all concerned fatigue-free.

Once upon a time city cars were very much the poor relation offering cheap and cheerful run-arounds but little else.

Jazz offers big car features, including collision mitigation, cross traffic monitor, forward collision warning, intelligent speed limiters, lane departure and lane keep assist systems and a low speed following device to stop you crashing.

Crosstar also gets a top-spec premium audio system, with eight speakers, including front tweeters, central speaker and rear subwoofer, which sounds excellent and boosts appeal even further.

New Jazz is now a fully grown hatchback its parents can be proud of offering economical, well-specified and practical motoring for all as it carves itself an alternative niche in a very competitive market. Bless it.

Fact File
Honda Jazz Crosstar
Engine: 1.5 petrol hyrbid
Power: 109PS
0-62mph: 9.9 secs
Top speed: 107mph
Combined MPG: 58.9
Transmission: automatic
CO2 g/km: 110
Price: £23,585.00