Honda Jazz (2008-2015)

There’s nothing quite like the Honda Jazz in the supermini segment, with its brilliantly packaged interior, class-leading reliability and efficient petrol engines. Strong demand means you’ll have to dig deep to buy one, but you’ll be rewarded with low running costs and an ability to carry things that simply shouldn’t fit into such a small car. Hardly the last word in driving enjoyment, the Jazz tends to be overlooked by anyone below 60 but whether you’re a student, transporting a family or you’re looking for something to carry bikes and camping gear for a life of outdoor pursuits, the Jazz is worth a closer look.

Key dates

11/08: The second-generation Honda Jazz arrives with 1.2 or 1.4-litre petrol models with a manual gearbox only.

1/09: The 1.4 engine is now offered with an unlovedi-shift semi-automatic transmission. 

2/11: A facelift brings fresh bumpers, tweaked suspension, a continuously variable transmission in place of the previous i-shift gearbox, and upgraded cabin trim. Also a hybrid edition is introduced with its own trim options (HE, HS, HX), similar to those of the regular Jazz.


  • No Honda Jazz comes with free road tax – even the hybrid is rated at more than 100g/km
  • Rear suspension creaks in cold weather are likely to be down to the bushes needing a smear of silicone grease.
  • Rattles from the rear of the interior are normally down to the back seat’s retaining bar having worn.
  • Engines can sound surprisingly tappety, especially when cold. Once warmed up things get quieter, but don’t expect complete silence.
  • There are various tyre issues; they can perish, wear quickly, and some cars have unusual tyres sizes fitted, which pushes up the cost of replacing them.
  • Clicking sounds from the brakes when cold is down to the pads moving in the callipers. Once warmed up the noise usually disappears.
  • There’s no spare wheel as standard, but you can order one as a spare part.

We like

  •  Reliability
  • Spacious cabin
  • Brilliant packaging
  • Efficient engines

We don’t like

  • So-so dynamics
  • High purchase prices
  • No diesels
  • Unsettled ride
  • i-shift gearbox
  • Below-par refinement


Richard Dredge


Honda Civic (2005-2012)

If you want a small hatch that stands out from the crowd, the Civic is for you. Even now, this eighth-generation Civic's futuristic lines still look the part, and the dash is every bit as cutting-edge. Throw in generous equipment levels, a strong structure, lots of safety kit and a spacious, flexible interior and you've got a great family car. Some early examples aren't as well built as you might expect however, so you can't always take that legendary Honda reliability for granted.

Key Dates

9/05 :The eighth-generation Civic debuts, with 1.4 or 1.8 petrol engines or a 2.2 diesel.

1/06 :The Civic IMA hybrid saloon appears, without the radical styling of the hatch.

1/07 :A three-door car arrives, along with the Type S, the latter with 1.8 petrol or 2.2-litre diesel powerplants.

3/07 :The three-door 198bhp Type R goes on sale, along with the high-spec GT.

3/09 :A facelift brings a new 1.4 petrol engine.

9/09 :The high-spec Si joins the range.

3/11 :The BTCC-inspired Civic Ti arrives, with 1.4 or 1.8 petrol engines.

Honda Civic (2005-2012) Checklist

  • Door handles can fail, so check each door from inside and out.
  • Headlight seals fail, leading to condensation inside.
  • If the grille badge isn't intact, you have to replace the whole grille assembly.
  • Rear visibility is poor, so check for damage to the rear wings and bumper.
  • There's no spare wheel, so check the car isn't being driven on damaged tyres filled with sealant.
  • Diesels have no low level warning light and oil consumption can be up to 600 miles per litre.
  • The front foglamps, in the front bumper, get damaged from stones.
  • The rear window seals fail, letting water into the cabin.

We Like

  • Distinctive styling
  • Cabin flexibility
  • Safe construction
  • Equipment levels
  • Strong 2.2 diesel engine
  • Big boot

We Don't Like

  • So-so handling
  • Busy dash
  • Early cars' fragility
  • No small diesel


Honda FRV (2004-2009)

The final Honda FR-V was built in the summer of 2009, but you could be forgiven for not even knowing the car existed. The only true rival to Fiat's Multipla, the FR-V was a six-seater featuring two rows of three chairs, which means you can carry six people and still have plenty of room for luggage. There's ample flexibility with the seating configurations too, so if you're looking for a people carrier with a difference, don't overlook the FR-V.

Key Dates

9/04: The FR-V arrives, with a choice of 123bhp 1.7 or 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol engines only.

6/05: Honda's excellent all-alloy 2.2 I-CDTi turbodiesel engine is now available, in 138bhp form.

1/07: The FR-V range gets a facelift, with a 138bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine replacing the previous 1.7 and 2.0-litre units. The exterior details are also overhauled, along with the interior trim.

Honda FR-V (2004-2009) Checklist

  • The turbodiesel engine can use oil, and as there's no oil warning light you need to check that the engine hasn't been running on empty.
  • There can be vibrations through the steering, with reliable fixes hard to find; check for this on the test drive.
  • Fuel consumption can be high on turbodiesel FR-Vs, if the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve has been replaced.
  • Turbodiesels can also suffer from bearings failing in the turbocharger; look for clouds of black exhaust smoke.

We Like

  • Reliability
  • Handling
  • Affordability
  • Spacious interior
  • Flexibility
  • Performance

We Don't Like

  • Ergonomics
  • Hard to find
  • Tight for six adults


Honda S2000 (1999-2008)

Two-seater open-topped sportscars will always be compromised, but some are less compromised than others. Take the S2000 for example; capable of delivering so much, including peerless reliability, yet it asks for relatively little in return. However, the Honda is definitely an enthusiast's machine, so you need to ensure you can live with the ride/handling balance as well as the high-revving VTEC powerplant before committing to purchase.

Key Dates

9/99: S2000 debuts.

10/00: Hard top now offered.

10/01: Fascia upgrade brings silver-finished switchgear.

3/02: There's now a glass rear screen, while the S2000 GT arrives, with a removable aluminium hard top as standard.

10/03: Revised S2000 gets more power (236bhp); it's still offered in Roadster and GT (removable hard top) forms though.

2/08: Suspension revisions are introduced, in line with the Japan-only S2000 Type-S. There are also new wheels and fresh colour options.


  • Kerbed wheels are common, with rims easily damaged.
  • Tracking and even the suspension can be knocked out of true by hard kerbing; look for uneven tyre wear.
  • Cars built before February 2002 featured a plastic rear window, which can go opaque.
  • Glass rear windows can get damaged, although it's rare.
  • Ensure the alarm works properly; it can have a mind of its own.
  • Ensure the air conditioning doesn't leak; it can.
  • Rear brake discs can warp; feel for juddering under braking.

We Like

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Reliability
  • Design
  • Fast electric roof
  • Rarity
  • Cheap to buy

We Don't Like

  • Rear roof-up visibility
  • Lack of low-down torque


Honda NSX (1990-2005)

Until the NSX, supercars were impractical, temperamental things that cost a fortune to run. But Honda changed all that, with a car that's stunning to look at, fast and handles superbly - yet it's also docile, reliable and needn't cost an arm and a leg to run. Many owners are hanging onto their cars, unable to find anything comparable as a replacement. Try one - even briefly - and you'll immediately see their predicament.

Key Dates

12/90: Honda NSX arrives in UK.

11/92: Japan-only NSX Type R is produced.

4/94: Passenger airbag and seven-spoke alloy wheels now standard.

3/95: NSX-T arrives plus the F-Matic with auto gearbox.

2/97: Manual cars get 3.2-litre engine, six ratios and bigger brakes. The auto retains the 3.0 V6 powerplant. Japanese market gets Type-S and Type-S Zero.

5/02: Facelifted NSX gets fixed headlights, while Japan gets NSX-R.

7/05: Official announcement that the NSX is about to die.

Honda NSX (1990-2005) Checklist

  • The window winder mechanisms break, entailing a door stripdown.
  • The three hi-fi amps burn out; repairs are very costly.
  • Make sure a new cam belt isn't needed; replacements are expensive.
  • Clutches wear out in as little as 30,000 miles.
  • Anything less than perfect panel fit means the car has been crashed. Alloy panels are easily dented.
  • Rear tyres typically wear out in less than 6000 miles.

We Like

  • Great to drive
  • Reliable
  • Relatively cheap to run
  • Looks fantastic

We Don't Like

  • Eats rear tyres
  • Dull Honda image