After test driving both the 1.3 i-DSI (sold as the 1.4 i-DSI in Europe) and 1.5 VTEC, I decided that the extra money spent on the 1.5, with the extra 18kW or so that goes along with it, was worth the money. I was right.
Not only is the 1.5 able to give the little Jazz a pretty decent shove, it's also surprisingly frugal. I usually see around 7.5l/100km when driving around the city, and have seen consumption of under 6l/100km on the open road. Not too shabby for a small automatic.
The CVT automatic does take a little getting used to. When used in full automatic mode, it appears to take its time figuring out that the driver would like to move forwards. It's only a split second, but it does take some getting used to.
When using the 7-speed flappy paddle option, this delay of the CVT getting itself ready to move off appears to be eliminated. The 7-speed option is very handy for situations where you need to get out of the way in a hurry, or if you're overtaking on a country road, as it makes the best use of the Jazz's power.
That said, the full automatic mode makes the best of the Jazz's remarkable fuel economy. Let's face it, people buy the Jazz because they want good fuel economy.
The interior is a work of art. Overall, it is very well finished. Apart from an issue with a bit of plastic coming loose, as well as the top of the dashboard looking a little flimsy (the bit where the passenger airbag is has a tendency to wobble slightly at high speeds on bad roads), it's very well finished. For what it's worth, pretty much every other modern small car has loads of flimsy, poorly finished plastic. Honda plastic is just slightly less flimsy and cheap looking than most.
The CD player sounds good and the controls are big and easy to use. The integration into the dash gives the Jazz a very classy ambiance, however it could prove troublesome for an aftermarket car stereo/ICE installation.
The phrase 'magic seat' is something that is a lot more than some phrase that some drug-addled intern in a marketing department somewhere came up with. The flexible configuration and the low floor make the Jazz more flexible than a Chinese gymnast. You could easily fit a whole family in here - with all the luggage you'd need - without any dramas at all.
The outside of the car is tiny, and is so easy to park, even a visually impaired 3 year old could parallel park without external assistance.
The dealer service is very good. I can't put my finger on it, but Honda dealerships tend to be a more pleasant place to visit than most other car dealerships. This is coming from someone that visited a number of different dealers whilst looking for a new car.
The only drawbacks of the car that I can find so far are the steering (slightly lumpy at very low speed, vague at high speed) and the handling (competent, but not awe inspiring).
The CVT automatic gearbox, whilst a technical masterpiece, may also prove a little more troublesome than a conventional automatic gearbox long-term. I'm planning on hanging onto this car for at least 10 years, and I hope that the CVT - being relatively new technology - is able to hold together for a long time without requiring major surgery. Only time will tell, however I do take comfort in the fact that - generally speaking - Honda produce some of the most reliable cars on the road today.
If Honda could get the steering and the handling right, the Jazz would probably one of the all time greatest cars ever produced by a Japanese manufacturer. As it stands, the Jazz is very good... but falls short of true greatness by the narrowest of margins.
I should note that I am incredibly picky when it comes to cars, especially brand new ones. So, when it comes to complaints about plastic and handling, it should be said that 99% of the general population would struggle to come up with similar criticisms.
I'll report back in 12 months time and let you know if anything has died/fallen off. Not likely, but you never know.