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Honda brings the new Jazz with a better ‘fit’

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 24, 2018

Third time lucky? The third generation Honda Jazz offers a compact upgrade. (right) Automatic shifter in the CVT variant(below) Premium trim elements are available for the dashboard. S MURALIDHAR

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It will be here in less than a month. And this time the Jazz has better build, better equipment levels and a diesel mill to take on the competition.



Honda hesitated initially to bring the Jazz to India because it shared the same platform as that of the City making it expensive by the average prices for B+ segment hatchbacks of that time. Despite knowing that this kind of pricing formula can’t work for India, Honda went ahead and launched the car here after attempting to source components from Thailand - its other Asian manufacturing hub. The result was a price that still put the Jazz beyond reach for most premium small car buyers. In fact, sales of the Hyundai i20, which was launched just before the Jazz debuted, picked up substantially after the Jazz’s price announcement, because the i20 suddenly seemed like such good value. More importantly, the Jazz missed having a diesel engine in its arsenal.

But the Honda Jazz became an aspirational icon, it still is, and is probably the reason why current Jazz owners swear by the car. Now, finally, after what seemed like an interminable wait, the third generation Jazz is set to join the fight. And Honda is confident that it won't be making the same mistake of out-pricing the car, thanks largely to the 95 per cent localisation that it has managed for the Jazz. The official unveil of the new 2015 Jazz is due on July 8 this year. But we got to test drive the new car in Goa and here are our first impressions.

Design

In terms of design, the Jazz has the classic Honda profile. Steeply raked A-pillar, short stubby bonnet with sharply sloping slab, cabin mid-forward position and the wheels set at the extremities of the car are all features that can make one identify it to be a Honda even if the badge is hidden. The car is now just shy of the 4 metre length. Compared to the previous model, the new Jazz is 55mm longer and its wheelbase is 30mm more. Surprisingly though, the new model looks more compact than the predecessor. The other dimensions of the new Jazz remain the same as the predecessor’s. Viewed from the side, the new Jazz is strikingly Honda with its gradually rising shoulder line and a deep cut waistline that ends at the tail-lamp, and curves down to form the haunches, much like in the City and Mobilio’s design. The rear features large tail-lamps and a tail-gate that cuts deep into the rear fender offering a low loading height into the boot. Scoops cut out from the front and rear fenders give the Jazz an aggressive new stance. Chrome elements are prominent in the two-layered bonnet grille with the metal strip and at the rear where the chrome garnish visually enhances the width of the car. The new Jazz’s paint job is excellent and it now has a signature sunset orange body colour. We personally liked the Carnelion Red that also sits so well on the Honda City. 15-inch alloys fill out the wheel arches well. Luggage capacity is 354 litres and can be expanded by folding down rear seats. The rear seats backrest can also be inclined by about 5 degrees to allow back-benchers a more relaxed seating position. Six-footers will find that the roof is also tall enough to give them comfy accommodation unlike a few other hatches.

The cabin is a big change in fit and finish quality and the quality of materials used. This looks so much like the Honda quality we have come to expect.

A driver-oriented layout for the dashboard, a digital instrument cluster with changing LED prompters to tell you if you are driving economically and a central infotainment system with an option of a larger 6.2-inch touchscreen system are the highlights. Steering mounted controls, a touchscreen climate control system and more premium elements on the dash are available depending on the trim. The theme of the cabin is black and grey with two different seat trims.

The amount of legroom at the rear is the big surprise element in the new Jazz’s cabin. Much of the additional wheelbase has been leveraged to increase kneeroom. The fuel tank profile has also been reduced to ensure that the cabin’s floor is flatter allowing for an increase in the track length for seat adjustment.

Performance

The new Jazz’s petrol engine is the 1.2-litre i-VTEC generating 90PS of peak power and 110Nm of peak torque. This engine is paired with either the 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT (continuously variable transmission) gearbox. The engine is the predictably refined with the manual gearbox offering slick, short shifts. The CVT is as much a delight use, thanks to the steering-mounted paddle shifters that are being offered by Honda, finally. So, even if you find the eco-conscious CVT a bit too slow to kick down and help you with the overtake manoeuvre, you can now take control, blip the paddles and go down the gears and drive on. This works in both the regular Drive mode or in the Sports mode.

The diesel engine on offer is the 1.5-litre i-DTEC in the same state of tune and with a reworked 6-speed manual gearbox as is currently on offer in the Honda City. Generating 100PS of peak power and 200Nm of peak torque, this engine is quite a gem in terms of how tractable it is and the amount of low end torque available from as low as 1,400rpm makes it very useable in city driving conditions. It was a bit noisy in the City’s cabin and it continues to be so in the Jazz too. But the clatter of the diesel engine and general noise levels are very much tolerable at low rpms. It is only past the 2,500 rpm levels that the noise starts intruding.

Bottomline

The Jazz’s ride quality is also a good balance of stiffness and accommodation. There is almost no body roll and the Jazz’s steering also felt quite precise for a car in this class. We would have liked a wider tyre, but with the car still focused on delivering good mileage this would have been a problem. Talking of efficiency, the petrol Jazz has a claimed rating of 18.7 kmpl for the manual and 19 kmpl for the CVT variant. The diesel Jazz is said to be capable of delivering 27.3 kmpl.

The Jazz is finally looking super promising with its build quality and overall appeal. Honda officials claim that they are absolutely sure that they will be pricing this new model aggressively thanks to localisation. We will wait to see if they keep their promise. We expect prices to range between ₹6 lakh and ₹11 lakh.

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Published on June 18, 2015
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