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By Jonathan Crouch
Added 10th July, 2020
Honda's fourth generation Jazz supermini delivers more of a lifestyle feel in this Crosstar form. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
There are so many compact SUV models now available on the used market that you wonder whether any of them can really offer anything different. Refreshingly, this HR-V does. It's a touch more spacious than other cars in this class, with superior practicality you can really make the most of thanks to the brilliantly flexible 'Magic Seat' system that offers MPV-style interior flexibility.
Alongside sophisticated design and class-leading safety, this set-up aims to justify premium pricing and if for you it does, then there's plenty else to like about this Honda. Essentially, this second generation HR-V is everything its predecessor should have been, attractive, refined - and efficient too, courtesy of the diesel engine option the MK1 model ought to have had but never got. That car was very much about style over substance. Here, in contrast, buyers are offered a much more complete product. It will appeal to those in search of the cleverest and classiest car of this kind from its era. For these people, this car will, in Honda's own words, be 'precisely, pleasingly perfect'.
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.
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.
Despite this MK4 model's fresh hybrid tech, the packaging of this design remains difficult to beat. Yes, rvals have 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.
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