Honda Jazz long-term test review: is the CVT version any good?
The Jazz is available with a continuously variable transmission, but is it any good?
If youngsters dismiss the Honda Jazz as an old person’s car, I dread to think what they’d make of the CVT version, the transmission of which is about as highly regarded by the motoring press as a fart in a lift.
And yet a large proportion of Jazz sales are of the automatic version. With that in mind, and in the interests of providing good consumer advice, I decided to borrow one from Honda to compare it with our six-speed manual long-termer.
I must confess that I have never shared the view that there is something masculine or sporty or even vaguely mechanically efficient about the old-fashioned manual gearbox and its accompanying clutch pedal. It being 2017, I would no more expect to find a manual gearbox in any civilised car than I would to find a horse in my living room.
To a degree, I’m proved right by these two cars. The Jazz CVT is good in town, easy to drive and smart away from the lights, whereas the manual can be rather hiccupy if you fumble the clutch and touchy throttle (easily done). On the motorway, where the manual Jazz is a little too loud, the CVT is quieter thanks to its theoretically higher gearing when cruising, even if refinement still leaves something to be desired.
So the CVT wins, then? Well no, not quite. You see, if you floor the accelerator, the engine roars like a rutting stag, and it’s about as responsive, even in its Sport mode, as a dead turbot. Like many steplessly variable transmissions, it also offers the option of using seven stepped ratios, but I find this rather irritating, although I realise I might be alone in that.
Also, the gearchange in my manual Jazz is a particularly good one, short of throw and precise in action. So my learned consumer advice is this: pay your money and make your own choice, or buy one of each.
HONDA JAZZ 1.3 I-VTEC SE NAVI
Price £15,605 Price as tested £16,105 Economy 44.6mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 23.11.16
Source: Autocar Online