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By Jonathan Crouch
Added 9th April, 2020
The Honda e redefines what a full-electric city car can be. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Honda's fourth generation Jazz supermini switches to full-hybrid power yet still keeps the same old practical virtues. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Honda does things differently - and we can't help liking that. Whether the model in question is a Civic, a Clarity fuel cell vehicle or a Type R hot hatch, you'll find that it's been uniquely engineered and packaged - as is the case with this Jazz. This always used to be the supermini that motoring experts would recommend as the small car they'd buy with their own money. For us, it still is. We're not blind to its failings. Other class competitors are more refined and offer higher quality cabins with more sophisticated infotainment. But none of them can get near the interior flexibility made possible by this Honda's neat 'Magic Seat' flexibility and tardis-like cabin. We'd go as far as to say that in many ways, this supermini is a more practical choice than many Focus-segment family hatchbacks from the next class up.
As for the changes made to this third generation model, well to be frank, they don't greatly alter its sales proposition. The uptake on this top 1.5-litre 'Sport' variant was low and beneath it in the range, the package remained pretty much as it had been since 2015. Just as well then, that the packaging of this design remained so difficult to beat. By 2017, rivals had become classier, more dynamic and more up-market. Whether they're also better where it really matters though, is quite another question. For its loyal, dedicated band of buyers, this Jazz always will be. Try one and you'll understand.
Ultimately, what's important about this tenth generation Civic is the way it showed us how Honda has changed. This is now a brand able to continually develop cars people might really want to buy, as opposed to models that many of them would merely find technically intriguing. And a company able to understand the wants and needs of people beyond its home shores. With this MK10 design, it was finally clear that in both these areas, at long last, Honda had got the message.
'Kaizen', the Japanese approach to 'continuous improvement', characterises every aspect of this model's development. Or almost every aspect anyway. What was lost along the way was the unique loading versatility for tall items that previous Civics offered thanks to their clever 'Magic Seat' set-up. We miss that and think a lot of owners loyal to previous versions of this Honda will too, especially given that for this tenth generation range, the 'Tourer' estate body style was deleted. Still, this Japanese brand had to reach out beyond these people and the pay-off with this car's fresh interior configuration - space for more sophisticated suspension delivering an exceptionally compliant standard of ride - ended up giving this interestingly-orientated family hatch a wider appeal. Not everyone is so enthusiastic about this car's styling, but if you like it, you'll probably love it. What's not in question is the huge step forward this car took beneath the bonnet. Both the mainstream VTEC Turbo petrol engines more than make the grade - and it's been a long time since we've been able to say that about a Civic.
There's plenty else we were impressed with too; the huge boot, a brilliantly-slick manual gearbox and the sheer uncompromising purpose of the top Type-R hot hatch variant. True, interior quality isn't quite a match for best-in-class rivals, but the cabin's a lot easier to like and this Civic's a lot bigger inside than it used to be. Plus of course, this car was built in Britain - for what that's worth. In short, this model, at long last, came of age in this form, finally a car with sense on its side, yet one that retained at least a little of the kind of Honda charisma that every Civic ought to have. It made its segment a more interesting place.
The improved version of the fifth generation Honda CR-V, now only offered as a Hybrid, makes plenty of sense, thinks Jonathan Crouch
It's easy to imagine yourself as target market for a car like this CR-V. You've a couple of kids, an active lifestyle, a need to haul things around and an aversion to rather dull large estate cars. The thing is though, you've also an aversion to the kind of mid-sized SUV soft roaders that such a mindset would normally direct you towards. Understandably perhaps, you think they're all rather pretentious and silly.
In summary, we can see why so many global customers will accept nothing less than Honda's interpretation of what an SUV of this kind should be. And what's on offer with this MK5 CR-V is a model that could conceivably interest many more of them. Ultimately, it remains distinctively different, distinctively. CR-V. Which ultimately, might very well be all you need.
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