Creating slightly more rugged versions of compact models is commonplace at the moment. Cars like the Ford Fiesta and Audi A1 are two such examples and now, Honda has cottoned on with this - the Jazz Crosstar.
With chunkier looks, it aims to give people a slightly more rugged-looking Jazz - but it doesn’t pack any additional off-road ability.
The Jazz is actually completely new. It packs a new hybrid powertrain - which we’ll look at in more detail shortly - as well as a new look which is more rounded and softer than the car it replaces.
The Crosstar brings more black plastic trim on the outside, as well as sleek roof bars and a different design of alloy wheel. You also get the option of two-tone paint - something which isn’t available on the regular Jazz - as well as water-resistant material for the seats.
What’s under the bonnet?
Keeping things simple there’s just one choice of engine available with the Crosstar and it’s a 1.5-litre petrol engine linked with a new hybrid system. Honda has designed it to react and behave like a fully electric car, which means that acceleration is impressively punchy while the petrol engine itself is able to go about its job in a quieter, less frantic manner than you’d find in other cars.
When accelerating hard the petrol unit does make its presence known, but Honda has engineered in ‘gears’ which change as its speed increases, giving the impression of a regular engine. It’s a clever move and one which makes the Jazz feel far more normal to drive than other hybrids.
What’s it like to drive?
Compared with its rivals, the Jazz is probably one of the most enjoyable cars to drive. Accomplished around towns and cities, it packs plenty of zip for nipping in and out of spaces in traffic - it’s far quicker off the mark than you might expect, in fact.
It’s helped by great levels of visibility, helped no end by a low-rise dashboard which gives a clear view out of the front of the car. The steering is also light and easy to use without feeling over-assisted. It’s also comfortable thanks to well-sorted suspension which manages to deal with even the worst potholes and road imperfections.
How does it look?
The Crosstar is rather accomplished at blending somewhat rugged looks with the dimensions of a city car. The wealth of black plastic cladding means it really does stand out against other crossovers in the class, but the plastic itself does feel a little bit cheap to the touch. However, it does a good job of breaking up the regular Jazz’s proportions and helps to give it a slightly sleeker appearance.
What’s it like inside?
Just as you'll find in the regular Jazz, the Crosstar benefits from a very well thought-out and finished interior which not only feels well made but also features a design which marks itself out against rivals in the segment.
The wide dashboard works well too and there’s plenty of storage too. A cupholder at either end, two decent sized glove boxes and other oddment areas help to keep the cabin of the Crosstar clutter-free. All of the controls are well placed and within easy reach too, while the physical controls for the climate systems are a welcome addition over a touchscreen system.
The boot space offered by the Jazz is about right for the segment, while the rear seats fold flat to create a level load area.
What’s the spec like?
The Crosstar is based on the Jazz’s top-level EX specification, which means it benefits from a wealth of standard equipment. Front and rear parking sensors are included from the off, as well as a reversing camera, nine-inch infotainment system and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Heated seats are fitted too, as well as keyless entry and start.
Honda has also fitted a wide-stretching amount of driver aids with features such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and traffic sign recognition to help give the Jazz a very high-tech feel.
That said, the Crosstar brings a £1,200 premium over the top-of-the-range EX-specification Jazz for essentially a styling package, which could represent a price too far for some.
The Crosstar brings with it all of the positives that come with the regular Jazz. It’s well designed, spacious and efficient too, with a powertrain which is smooth and easy to get along with.
It does command a premium over the standard car, and since there are no other variants available then there aren’t any cheaper options. However, if you’re after a more rugged-looking compact car, then the Crosstar could be the car for you.