New Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris vs Volkswagen Polo: interiors
As hybrids, the new Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris should be frugal, but are they as well rounded as a conventional small car such as the Volkswagen Polo? Let’s find out...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
The Jazz has always been an outlier in the small car class, because while its footprint is similar to a Fiesta’s, its driving position is more akin to an MPV’s. Put simply, you sit farther from the road than you do in most rivals, including the two it’s up against here. That makes the Jazz easiest to get in and out of, and while the sit-up-and-beg stance won’t be to everyone’s taste, it’s tough to fault for comfort.
Neither the Jazz nor the Yaris offers adjustable lumbar support, although that’s more of an issue in the latter, because there’s less support for your lower back to begin with. The Yaris’s seat base is also on the firm side, but there’s a bit more side support than in the Jazz to hold you in place through corners. And there’s plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment, so drivers of most shapes and sizes should have no problem getting settled.
On balance, the Polo has the best driving position. You get adjustable lumbar support to help ward off lower back pain on long journeys, and there’s even more adjustment than in the Yaris to help set everything up just the way you want it.
Unlike many modern cars, all three have proper physical buttons and knobs for their air conditioning systems, so there’s no need to faff around with touch-sensitive pads or delve into menus on the touchscreen when you want to tweak the interior temperature. Mind you, the Polo’s controls could do with being a little higher on the dashboard.
All things considered, though, the Polo has the classiest interior. The main part of its dashboard is made from dense, squidgy plastic, and the leather on the steering wheel and gearknob feels surprisingly upmarket for a car in this price bracket. Yes, the interior is quite grey, but if you want to brighten things up, you can always add colourful dashboard inserts for £135.
The Jazz isn’t far behind, though; its interior feels really well screwed together and some of the buttons and knobs actually feel more expensively engineered than their equivalents in the Polo. A smattering of glossy white plastic on the steering wheel and around the cupholders helps lift the otherwise sombre colour scheme, although it’s a pity there’s no leather covering on the steering wheel in SR trim. You need to upgrade to pricey EX to get that.
In this company, the Yaris fails to impress. True, its dashboard is soft to the touch in places, but there’s also plenty of hard, matt grey plastic. Still, as with the Polo, there are at least interior packs available to add some colour should you desire. And it's not that the Yaris feels low-rent by class standards; it’s smarter inside than the latest Hyundai i20, for example.
Let’s start with the positives. The Jazz has the largest touchscreen here (measuring 9.0in) and it responds reasonably quickly to prods. There’s also a proper volume knob that’s easy to reach. Sadly, the screen is angled in such a way that, on a bright day, all you can see is the sky. Honda’s operating system isn’t great, either, so you’ll find yourself plugging in your phone and using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, both of which are standard.
Again, there are some good points. The screen is positioned nice and high on the dashboard, and it’s flanked by physical (if rather small) shortcut buttons to take you directly to the feature you’re looking for. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, too – and that’s a good thing, because it allows you to bypass Toyota’s own clunky operating system. Go for Icon trim and you’ll get a 7.0in screen, as opposed to the 8.0in one pictured.
All things considered, this is the best system here – and curiously, it’s also better than the system fitted to some of VW’s more recent models, including the Golf Mk8. The glass-fronted 8.0in touchscreen is super-crisp and the operating system intuitive and quick to respond. We would prefer proper shortcut buttons instead of the fiddly touch-sensitive pads, but that’s a relatively minor gripe. If you want a punchier sound system, consider Beats trim.
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