I will admit I had never heard of a Crosstar until an email arrived to state that one was coming my way for test drive purposes. The Crosstar is a member of the Honda Jazz family and the name Jazz has been used by the Japanese carmaker on a variety of vehicles since 1982.
Honda has refreshed the Jazz and Jazz Crosstar model range with new, sportier styling, alongside an increase in both power and the level of standard equipment on all grades have been updated with revised bumpers a follow on from the fourth generation model. The styling of the Crosstar is more rugged and it has a number of design revisions to exterior and interior trim to bolster its already purposeful design. There is a new honeycomb grille and revised front bumper design that transform the front end and the new bumper features revised fog light surrounds and a central, silver trim insert designed to look like under body protection. The side skirts and rear bumper have also been redesigned to complement its more rugged and purposeful appearance, featuring the same silver under body protection style inserts. This redesign emphasises the purposeful stance created by its increased ride height over the standard Jazz, in addition to integrated roof rails; you will easily recognise the Crosstar from the Jazz.
I was parked at a major store in Enniskillen and a man approached me, by the way a BMW X3 driver, signing the praise of my little Honda, a former owner who was in a way missing the car. We both agreed that while it was not the most attractive set of wheels it was a hugely practical vehicle. I went on to tour in one of my favourite counties, Donegal, and it proved ideal for all the items I carried. Adding to the everyday usability, there is more than 1,200 litres of load space, truly excellent for this size of vehicle.
A major element is Honda’s e:HEV hybrid technology which continues to be specified as standard on both the Jazz and Crosstar, good news now with a 10kW increase in power for a smoother, more refined driving experience. The two-motor powertrain has been upgraded to increase responsiveness and drivability while maintaining the exceptional efficiency for which the e:HEV system is renowned, with CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency remaining the same as before. With 107bhp and a slick auto transmission, no complaint from me re performance.
Behind the wheel either in town or on the open road, I discovered that the Crosstar was brisk and surprisingly great fun. Some of our rural roads can present a challenge, not with this member of the Honda family, very competent and comfortable; of course I would expect nothing less. As my week progressed and my enjoyment level hit new levels on famous rally roads in Donegal at the end of my loan period I knew I was going to miss this little gem. With a well appointed interior there is the addition of a new transmission tunnel edging and a revised black water-repellent seat fabric, while the cup holders positioned at the outer edges of the dashboard are now finished in the same gloss black finish to compliment the new dash and door panel material. In all models and grades the collar trim for the gear switch selector is also upgraded to silver, while the door switch trim now receives a matte finish consistent with other touch points. Technology is key with the modern vehicle and intuitive in-car connectivity offers flexible infotainment, WiFi hotspot and My Honda+ app keep you connected on the move and a range of connectivity packages also enhance the ownership experience.
Summing up, the Crosstar scores highly in practical terms and with such compact dimensions it came as a major surprise and, I must not omit, a raft of safety systems.