There is something ridiculously mischievous about the Honda Jazz Sport.

As anyone with a single grey hair will tell you, the Jazz is a seriously sensible car. But level-headed does not have to mean lack-lustre and the Sport trim version of the Jazz is anything but boring.

Building on the clever packaging of space inside the four-metre long, five-door, five-seater, the third-generation Jazz wears a bolder new Honda ‘family face’ and has stronger styling than its more cuddly-looking predecessors.

Step up to Sport trim and the looks grow even edgier – in comes a thinner front splitter beneath the lower grille and a diffuser below the rear bumper, both finished with a sporty red accent line.

Add a tailgate spoiler, side sill skirts, LED headlights, front fog lamps and gloss-black 16-inch alloy wheels and you have a distinctively different car.

Inside the refined and well-finished cabin, the pinstripe pattern upholstery and leather-wrapped, multi-function, steering wheel and gear knob are given a lift with orange stitching.

The sporty styling is backed up for the first time by a more powerful 1.5-litre engine developing a maximum 130 horsepower that when driven sensibly will happily return about 50mpg.

With the latest generation Jazz, Honda has been careful to maintain all its best attributes as this car is a global best-seller, with more than seven million sold worldwide since it was first launched 17 years ago.

And a star among those features is the clever use of interior space. A low-profile fuel tank mounted under the front seats frees up underfloor space beneath the so-called ‘magic seats’ in the rear.

The seats – which split 60:40 – can be adjusted in a number of ways to make the most of the space. For maximum cargo, the rear seat back folds forward as the seat base lowers into the rear passenger footwell, creating a 1.5m-long flat floor.

The front of the rear seat bases can also be lifted and locked vertically to leave a cargo height of 1.28m from floor to ceiling, allowing tall objects to be carried behind the front seats.

The front passenger seat back also folds back to a horizontal position, while the rear seat back folds forward, forming a ‘tunnel’ to accommodate items up to 2.48m long.

All this versatility is matched by the use of high-quality soft-touch materials and lots of technology on every Jazz including cruise control, automatic LED headlights and the City-Brake Active safety system, designed to help avoid or mitigate low-speed collisions.

The system uses laser radar technology to scan the road ahead, automatically applying the brakes if an imminent risk of collision is detected.

A more advanced collection of safety systems is available as an option on the entry-level model and fitted as standard on mid and upper grades including forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition system, intelligent speed limiter, lane departure warning and a high beam support system.

Just because the Jazz is popular among more mature drivers doesn’t mean they are being left behind with technology. The Sport comes with Honda Connect an app-based interface with ‘pinch, swipe and tap’ functionality identical to that of a modern smartphone, giving fast access to Internet-based services, including real-time traffic information, news and weather, social media, and Internet music stations.

It also offers options for syncing with smartphones and other personal multimedia devices: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, and MirrorLink – which ‘mirrors’ the screen of a connected device, allowing it to be operated through the seven-inch touchscreen.

So while the Jazz remains a thoroughly versatile, practical and trusted contender, it will also earn some respect from much younger drivers.

Auto facts

Model: Honda Jazz 1.5 i-VTEC Sport Navi

Price: £18,265 as tested

Insurance group: 19 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 47.9mpg

Top speed: 118mph

Length: 405.1cm/159in

Width: 198cm/77.7in

Luggage capacity: 12.5 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 8.8 gallons/40 litres

CO2 emissions: 133 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 90,000 miles