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Driven: 2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.

Driven: 2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV
What effect will some SUV-inspired body cladding and raised ride height have on Hondaís hybrid hatchback?

   



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2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV

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Unless you spent the past decade under a rock or in a coma, you've probably noticed a startling increase in the number of SUVs on the market and indeed on the road. Everyone and their dog seems to have some high-riding hatchback with extra ground clearance and rugged styling, but little in the way of off-road prowess. Which goes some way to explaining why Honda built this Crosstar version of its brilliant little Jazz hatchback. With its chunky stance and plastic body cladding, is this tough-looking Jazz really worth any more than a conventional model?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV
Price: From £24,815
Engine/motor: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid
Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Battery: 0.8kWh
Power: 107hp
Torque: 253Nm
Emissions: 110g/km
Economy/Range: 58.9mpg
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Boot space: 298-1,199 litres

Styling

The EX Crosstar version of the Jazz is set apart by its tough-looking body cladding, but that doesn't really mask the cutesy looks of the small hatchback underneath. The Jazz looks very approachable, with its rounded edges and big headlights, and even the plastic bumpers can't detract from that small dog-esque cuteness. Unlike its predecessor, there's nothing aggressive or sporty about it, but the more rounded look will probably hit the spot with the Jazz's target market.

Interior

Honda cabins are often a mixed bag, but the interior quality has improved in recent years. The Jazz is a shining example of that, with some solid plastics and really strong build quality. Everything fits together beautifully and the style is in keeping with the exterior. There are lots of rounded edges and a fabric piece of dashboard trim, which is a surprisingly pleasant and cost-effective way of adding a softer and more upmarket feel to the cabin.

Not that the plastics in the Jazzís cabin are that bad to start with. Like any small hatchback, there are some hard plastics kicking about, but theyíre mostly found in areas you donít have much to do with Ė down below knee-level, for the most part.

The Jazz also comes with Hondaís latest touchscreen infotaiment system, which is a vast improvement on the screen found in the old Jazz. Perhaps it isnít as good as some of the more upmarket touchscreens, but itís clearer and easier to use than anything Honda has produced previously, and it does everything you want of it. Itís significantly better than the old Jazz.

Practicality

For some time now, one of the Jazz's key selling points has been practicality, and the new model is no different. The boot measures almost 300 litres in capacity, which makes it pretty spacious considering the compact dimensions, and there's lots of space when you fold the back seats down. The high roof makes it practical in the cabin, too, and Honda's Magic Seats fold in all sorts of ways to provide tons of extra practicality.

Performance

No matter which trim level you choose, the Jazz comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, both of which combine with a continuously variable transmission to create a somewhat complicated hybrid system. Using electricity and petrol in unison, the Jazz has a total of 107hp at its disposal, and that's more than enough for a small hatchback. Performance is sufficient, rather than plentiful, but a sub-10-second 0-62mph time means it'll keep up with traffic easily.

But because the system uses electrical power more than you might expect, the refinement is impressive, too. There's very little noise from the electric motor, and when the petrol engine kicks in the sound is almost imperceptible. It's a very impressive system, and it provides strong economy. The official figures suggest the Jazz EX Crosstar will manage almost 60mpg, and our test suggests that's not too far from the mark. You're certainly going to get more than 50mpg on a long run, and a mixture of roads may improve that further still.

Ride & Handling

There isn't much difference between the Jazz Crosstar EX and the standard versions of the Jazz in terms of driving experience. For all the Crosstar's rugged features, it isn't really any more or less capable than its siblings when it comes to off-roading, with no four-wheel-drive system or even a clever traction control system to speak of.

And while the Crosstar EX might look rugged, it's actually just as comfortable as the standard Jazz, if not more so. There's a pleasant cushiness to the suspension that makes it glide over most bumps, although it's sometimes caught out thanks to its short wheelbase. Even so, it's more comfortable and more refined than most small hatchbacks.

Normally, comfortable cars sacrifice any kind of driving pleasure to achieve that, but the Jazz doesn't. Of course, it isn't especially good fun, and it rolls a lot in corners, but it feels quite nimble and light on its feet.

Value

The Crosstar EX is quite a way up the Jazz ladder, and it comes with a suitably chunky price tag. Starting at £24,815, it's about as expensive as Jazzes get. However, you get plenty of standard equipment, including parking sensors, a rear-view camera and a touchscreen infotainment system. Keyless entry is standard, too, along with satellite navigation and compatibility with Honda's connected car technology. That means customers can use a smartphone app to monitor vehicle status and control some functions remotely.

Verdict

The Crosstar styling might be a little pointless, but the Jazz remains a good car in any form. Comfortable, well built and smooth, it's a really well judged small car with plenty of interior space and decent fuel economy. So while it may not be exciting, it does exactly what existing Jazz customers want a car to do, and it does enough to attract some new clientele as well. But if you're after a small hatchback with genuine off-road credentials, look elsewhere.



James Fossdyke - 24 Jul 2022



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2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.

2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.2021 Honda Jazz Crosstar EX e:HEV. Image by Honda.







 

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