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New Jazz hits the right note.

JAPANESE car-builder Honda is on a roll - and long may it continue.

In the often dull and repetitive world of motoring, the car company has been like a breath of fresh air recently.

Exciting new models, coupled with an eye-catching yet simplistic TV ad campaign, have certainly helped the marque to become more trendy.

Leading this stylish but fun revolution is a cracking little motor with a cracking name - the Honda Jazz.

The supermini-sized car with a super-spacious interior hit our shores earlier this year. It was already a multi-award winner and in Japan - where it is sold under the less catchy name of the Honda Fit - it quickly established itself as the best-selling small car.

And it's easy to see why the Japanese have taken such a shine to the model.

Good looks, spacious interior, responsive engine and economical performance mean the Jazz is a force to be reckoned with.

Its clean design shares styling cues with the larger Civic and Stream models.

The short nose and flared wheel arches give it a broad, purposeful stance, while the rising lower edge of the side windows and the gradually falling roofline give a hint of coupe-like styling.

The Jazz has a sporty interior with a mix of light and dark shades. A metallic instrument panel adds to the overall ambience, while control buttons and knobs on the centre console are big and easy to operate.

The driving position is comfortable, combining decent support, easy access to the gearstick and steering wheel and a good view of the road.

Such is the flexibility of the Jazz's interior that a number of seating/storage options are possible.

Load volume with all seats in place is 353 litres. There's also enough space beneath the rear seats, which sit two people comfortably, to fit small packages such as bags.

Thanks to the Honda-named 'magic' flexible rear-seat arrangement, there are a number of other loading possibilities.

Either rear seat can be collapsed into the footwell in three easy steps, resulting in a flat load floor with a maximum 1,740mm space (capable of carrying a mountain bike).

With the front passenger seat slid forward and fully reclined, 2.4 metres of load length space can be created. Another load variation can be created by lifting and locking the rear-seat bottom to the seat back.

The Jazz's interior also offers a number of storage pockets and cup-holder spaces.

At the heart of the Jazz is a 1.4-litre petrol engine which delivers 83 PS and offers a lively performance. Top speed is 106mph and the Jazz accelerates from start to 60mph in 12 seconds.

Fuel consumption is very impressive, ranging from 48.7mpg combined for the SE Sport model to 49.6mpg combined for the S and SE versions.

Musically, jazz isn't really my cup of tea. In terms of my motoring taste, Jazz certainly hits the right note.

FAST Facts?

WHAT IS IT? Honda Jazz

HOW MUCH? From pounds 8,995 to pounds 11,295

HOW QUICK? 0-62mph in 12 seconds. Top speed 106mph

HOW THIRSTY? 49.6mpg combined

CO? 134g/km

FOR - Quirky yet cool all-round package

AGAINST - Could do with a higher-powered version

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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 27, 2002
Previous Article:It's fast, furious and it's made in Brum.

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