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Back to Listers Honda
By Jonathan Crouch
Added 6th March, 2015
Honda revives an idea that was originally ahead of the game. Jonathan Crouch looks at the MK2 model HR-V.
This fourth generation Civic Type R offers a quite different, more intense take on what a car of this kind should be. It may be the first Type R to try turbo power but it's still a pure performance package in the very best traditions of this model line. It's also properly quick, two seconds faster than a Lamborghini Gallardo supercar round the Nurburgring Nordschliefe and every inch the Touring Car racer when parked in your driveway.
What it isn't is the affordable performance package it once was, the power and technology needed to deliver that 'fastest front wheel drive' accolade elevating this car into competition with more mature alternatives. Yes, something like a Golf R is dull by comparison, but you can't ignore the fact that the Volkswagen will slip comfortably into situations where this bespoilered tearaway might be seen as something of an embarrassment - your company carpark for example.
If you've petrol pumping through your veins and don't think that matters, then respect is due. You'll choose this Civic Type R because you've remembered just why it was you wanted to buy a hot hatch in the first place. And you'll revel in the extrovert, intoxicating driving experience it offers. There's nothing else quite like it.
The ninth generation Civic took a while to come good. The big step forward came with the introduction of variants fitted with this 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine, a unit which transformed this car's chances. Choose one in a decent trim level and you'll have a Honda that drives brilliantly, offers stellar economy and efficiency figures, is safe, spacious, reliable and still looks smart. You really can't ask for much more from a used car. The only caveat is that it's not cheap. As ever though, you get what you pay for.
'Kaizen', the Japanese approach to 'continuous improvement', characterises every aspect of this much improved ninth generation Civic. This car may look similar to the MK9 model we first saw in 2011 but under the skin, it's a far more competitive prospect. The upgraded infotainment set-up, the more comfortable driving experience and the wider range of trim options, plus the availability of an estate bodystyle and a Type-R hot hatch variant - all of it makes a big difference to this car's appeal.
All of these things are welcome, but they didn't dilute the individual appeal of a package that remains distinctively different in its era in the Focus-sized family hatchback segment. The sporty feel of the engines, the brilliant 'Magic Seat' practicality of the cabin and the distinctive looks all continue to underline the way that Honda isn't afraid to go against the grain when designing a car of this kind.
The really refreshing thing about the Honda Jazz Hybrid is that it's so discreet. It was one of the first cars that didn't make a huge song and dance about its hybrid powertrain and we like that. It just got on with the job of being one of the most reliable cars available at any price. We'd be willing to bet that the reliability figures for this Jazz would stack up more favourably than for virtually any high-end luxury car. It's a genuinely excellent piece of engineering and if you appreciate smart design and slick product execution, you're going to love the Jazz Hybrid. It's a great used supermini buy and one of our favourites.
The Honda Jazz deserves more respect than it gets and this improved post-2011 second generation model is probably the version of this design that makes most sense as a used car buy. Derided as a bit of a granny magnet that's devoid of appeal for anyone with their own teeth, it's actually a really smart supermini that's engineered like no other.
Yes, there are more exciting cars to drive, but it'll be a cast-iron guarantee that none of them will be as reliable as the Jazz. We like superlatives and this little Honda remains the numero uno when it comes to integrity of engineering. It would always be our first choice for the used buyer who wants the peace of mind of a new car.
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