Honda has excelled itself with the fourth generation Jazz – transforming the supermini into a distinctive-looking machine with a cool and funky vibe.

The changes seem likely to broaden the car’s appeal and should attract younger buyers.

The new Jazz comes in two versions – the standard hatchback (pictured below) and the Crosstar, with its raised ride height and crossover-inspired appearance.

South Wales Guardian: The standard hatchback version of the Honda Jazz (left) and the Crosstar variant of the Jazz (top left and top right)

We tested both variants - and were impressed by each of the flavours.

Great fuel economy and practically are obvious strong points, while the Jazz’s entertaining handling is perhaps one of its less-expected attributes.

Both varieties are the same under the bonnet, with power coming via an ultra-efficient 1.5-litre petrol hybrid engine with twin electric motors and a little lithium-ion battery.

The Jazz is self-charging, so no need to plug in, and returns fantastic fuel economy figures of 61.4mpg on the official combined scale. In a variety of uphill, down dale driving conditions, I found 50mpg well within reach even when not driving with economy in mind.

The transmission is of the automatic (CVT) variety and - although not viewed favourably by some driving purists - does a decent enough job in getting the power to the Jazz’s front wheels when you need it.

South Wales Guardian: The hatchback version of the Honda Jazz

Part of the car’s secret to achieving such great economy is the intelligent powertrain, which automatically decides which of the three drive modes to use, depending on the circumstances.

It means the Jazz runs on pure electric where possible, especially at lower speeds and in traffic, before switching itself to ‘hybrid’ or ‘engine’ modes as more power and performance is required.

From an ease-of-use point of view, it means it’s a straightforward hybrid to drive as you don’t have to think about changing mode or changing gear.

The only real decision you have to make is whether you want to push the gearstick down to B Mode, which increases the regenerative braking when you take your foot off the accelerator. This then harvests energy that would otherwise be wasted and increases the battery charge.

It feels a bit odd using it on the flat as the car slows down quickly when you take your foot off the accelerator, but it’s well worth engaging B Mode when travelling down steep hills, then enjoying the satisfaction of watching the charge increase.

The Jazz will get you from a standing start to 62mph in under ten seconds, which feels pretty nippy and strikes a good balance between performance and economy.

It feels grippy through the tighter corners, with little by way of body roll or lean meaning it feels well-planted on the road.

Looks-wise, an extra side pillar in between the windows towards the windscreen is a distinctive feature, and the car has an all-round contemporary look.

The Crosstar (pictured below) is orientated towards those with active lifestyles, adding increased ride-height, unique body styling and wheel designs, water-resistant upholstery and integrated roof rails.

South Wales Guardian: The Crosstar version of the Honda Jazz

New bolder styling includes a new front grille design, black cladding around the wheel arches and 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels.

Once inside, the magic seat system - which sees the seats flip up - makes the roomy interior into an even more flexible space.

The dashboard is well laid-out and features a new 7.0-inch digital driver’s display and a very user-friendly 9.0-inch central infotainment screen.

The sound system is also of good quality, with a powerful eight-speaker set-up.

The boot is also a good size, offering just under 300 litres of space, which quadruples when you put down the back seats.

With the changes made to the Jazz, Honda has produced a gem of a car that's spacious, efficient and fun.

Honda Jazz Crosstar EX

PRICE: £23,445 on the road

ENGINE: 1.5i-MMD

0-62 MPH: 9.5 seconds

TOP SPEED: 108mph

EMISSIONS: 89g/km

ECONOMY: 61.4mpg combined

TRANSMISSION: CVT front wheel drive