mReview: Honda Jazz Crosstar e:HEV - Jazzing It Up With Fitter Looks

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It was not too long ago that the Honda Jazz was at the top of the world, enjoying success and popularity that very few others could match. Wherever you went, a Jazz (or its parallel-imported Fit twin) was just around the corner.

And it was no fluke, either. The mighty supermini was a cleverly designed car regardless of its generation, with gobs of practical and usable space hiding inside a compact shell. Add impressive fuel economy and low price point into the mix, and the result was a well-rounded package that made other alternatives much less attractive.

But times have changed, and the Jazz is no longer the default choice for car buyers, no thanks to ludicrous COE premiums and strong competition from other brands like the VW T-Cross

Does this mean that the music has stopped for Honda's once-unstoppable hatch? Or will their new Jazz Crosstar win over hearts and minds again, with this fresh take?

Playing Free Jazz
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Banking on the crossover trend, the Jazz Crosstar ditches its conservative sheet metal for a more rugged style. The car is armoured with substantial amounts of plastic cladding bits and slightly raised ride height, giving the illusion that it can conquer all sorts of driving conditions.

It's a smidge longer, taller, and higher than the boggo standard Jazz, but unless you have a measuring tape whipped out, it would be difficult to tell just how much bigger the Crosstar is.

Gone is the oddly-shaped snout found on the regular Jazz. In its place is a more conventional-looking honycomb grille, as well as a silver front garnish for the lower section of the fascia. The headlights and daytime running lights are all LED, and each foglight nestled deep within an unnecessarily thick housing, although they do blend well with the rest of the Crosstar's design language.

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We would have preferred a more subdued design and less of a throwback to the fussy looks of the Civic Type R FK8, but this will certainly appeal to those who want a visually polarising Honda that starts conversations.

It's the same at the back, with a faux metal skid plate contrasting against the black plastic cladding adorning much of rear bumper. You get LED lights at the back too, with the added bonus of having roof rails to drive home the point that this is no any ordinary Jazz.

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Two-tone paint is available for the X-grade of the Crosstar, with our press vehicle decked out in Premium Crystal Red Metallic with Crystal Black. We absolutely love this colour, especially with how it plays under natural lighting and with the hatch's curves. In fact, we reckon it's almost on par with Mazda's utterly sublime Soul Red paintwork.

Blacked out double five-spoke alloy wheels are also packaged with the Crosstar, wrapped in fuel-efficient Dunlop Enasave EC300+ tyres.

In Tune With Consumer Demands

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While the Crosstar is loud on the outside, it's fairly minimalist and sensible on the inside. Clean lines and plush materials give the Honda hatch a refined and almost-premium feel, which is impressive for a car at this price bracket. 

Breaking the predominantly black cabin are the ceramic white trim surrounds that are found on the gear lever and buttons mounted on the two-spoke urethane steering wheel. We're not sure how well these pristine white panels will last with day-to-day use, but they do make a good first impression.

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You get the same analog-digital HVAC setup that's found on the HR-V, which we have summed up before as brilliant. The tactile knurled dials feel wonderfully analog and bulletproof, and the digital readouts are simple and crystal clear. 

Other goodies include two USB Type A ports on the centre console, and a 12V power outlet. You also get a nine-inch infotainment display that responds quickly and accurate when used, and is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto services. 

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A seven-inch TFT digital display sits right in front of the steering wheel, providing the driver with all sorts of critical vehicle information. Resolution is crisp and while the colour palette makes it look like a Christmas tree in December, it's really not that distracting in the real world.

We had no issues with the display, and the information laid out was legible without being overwhelming the slightest bit.

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Like its predecessors, the Jazz Crosstar's trump card is its unparalleled practicality. The front dash has two large storage compartments that split open, and loads more space in the door cards.

Its front seats, though unexciting, are quite plush and comfortably positioned for drivers of various sizes. But the real fun begins at the back, where Honda really gets to flex their engineering muscles.

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The carmaker's famed ULTRA seats make a return in the Crosstar, and it's pure magic. All three seats can either flatten 60:40 conventionally to make space for bulky cargo, or fold upwards to comfortably fit tall items like plant vases. This flexibility is not seen even in most premium brands, and gives the Honda a properly unique edge over its rivals.

When it comes to sitting space with a full capacity, the Crosstar still impresses. It's able to fit three full-size adults at the back, with plenty of space for the legs and heads, even with the slight floor hump. There are even dual USB Type C power sockets behind for occupants to charge their devices with.

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You get 298 litres of boot space, which is enough for several luggage bags and groceries from your supermarket runs. With all seats down, you're looking at a whopping 1199 litres' worth of available space. Loading and unloading is a hoot too, with a wide aperture once the bootlid is open.

A Natural On-Stage

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To be clear, the Jazz Crosstar is not what you'd call a performance car. It prefers to be driven sensibly, in strict accordance to rules and regulations. It's powered by a decent, if a bit boring, 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC four-pot engine, with an e:HEV battery-electric system to give it a helping hand.

The result is 130 bhp and 253 Nm of combined torque, although you can barely feel the power surge when the car's at full throttle. Perhaps it's due to the comfort-oriented eCVT transmission, which prefers relaxed driving to hardcore piloting.

Regardless, it's a genuinely smooth hybrid system that's comparable with the likes of Toyota, with the power delivery smoothly alternating between petrol and electric and providing enough chuff for overtaking manoeuvres. 

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It wafts quite a bit during hard cornering, due to its tall stature and floaty suspension setup. But tone down the driving aggression, and the Crosstar begins to show you why it's actually a brilliant family mover. 

The Crosstar soaks up all the bumps and potholes with ease, and it's fairly well-insulated from external noises. Thanks to the ultra-thin A-pillars and wide windows, the hatch also provides great all-round visibility for the driver. It also has an extremely small turning radius and surprisingly lively steering, making it an absolute joy to drive around in tight spaces. 

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Low-speed driving performance is handled solely by the electric motor, which helps the Crosstar a lot in achieving impressive fuel consumption. During our test, we noticed that the Honda can run on purely electric power till about 70 km/h. In other words, you can theoretically drive around your neighbourhood with just electricity!

With plenty of lead-footed driving from yours truly on the expressway and along narrow city streets, the Crosstar eventually had to utilise its petrol engine while the Li-Ion battery recharged. But even with us pushing the engine hard in all sorts of road conditions, it amazed us by refusing to clock below 21 km/L, averaging at 21.6 km/L. To put it into greater context, this figure is remarkably close to Honda's 22.2 km/L claim.

Playing It Safe

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It's a remarkably safe car too, which should provide some peace of mind for would-be owners. The Crosstar not only has six airbags, it's also loaded with the carmaker's Honda Sensing safety suite. This includes adaptive cruise control, which matches the speed of the vehicle in front automatically, as well as Lane Keeping Assist System.

Collision Mitigation System will also come as standard. This feature essentially detects and alerts the driver of a potential collision, and even helps to brake the car to prevent a crash from happening, or to minimise impact if a collision becomes inevitable.

The Best of Jazz, With a Rhythm Twist

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Starting at S$66,999 without COE (and $68,999 for this X-grade model), you'd be hard-pressed to find another compact hatch that's quite as comprehensively packaged as the Jazz Crosstar. 

Despite its quirky styling cues that deviate from Honda's normally reserved design language, the Crosstar still manages to retain much of Honda's pragmatic DNA that should please many Singaporean owners and meet their needs, if not exceed them. From its stellar fuel economy figures to its shockingly impressive level of practicality, this Honda supermini deserves to be in your shortlist of cars to consider buying in 2023.

Honda Jazz Crosstar 1.5 e:HEV Specifications
Price: $66,999 (w/o COE)  VES Band: A1
Inline-four DOHC i-VTEC with e:HEV Hybrid Motor
1.5 Litres
130 bhp (combined), 253 Nm (combined)
Driven Wheels:
21.6 km/l (recorded) / 22.2 km/l (official)
Top Speed:
Battery Capacity:
4,095 mm x 1,725 mm x 1,567 mm
2,531 mm
Cargo Capacity:
298 Litres

Photo Credit: Muhammad Mu'tasim (@mutasimdrives)

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