Honda’s Jazz has offered B-segment customers around the world near unrivalled levels of versatility and simple, yet fun, motoring over the past two generations. It’s even proven to be quite popular here in South Africa.
What’s really impressive is that the Jazz proved to be a hit with consumers of all ages – from young couples to stay at home moms and dads and even the “empty nesters”. Now, the Tokyo-based firm wants to include a more youthful audience to the Jazz’s target market.
Funky new looks
Revealed to local motoring scribes in the valet parking area of Cape Town International Airport, the Jazz certainly stood out next to the multitude of German executives and high-end sportscars littering the basement. Whilst the first and second generation models were by no means dull, this third example certainly is contemporary – representing current out-there design trends.
Honda would like you to believe that the Jazz has returned to the sharp lines and angles of the first model, but the company’s stylists have cleverly created that illusion. In reality, the Jazz retains the overall softer profile of its predecessor, but elements of the bodywork and styling create do add edgy detail – such as the narrow headlamps, boomerang-shaped grille, lightning bolt tail lamps and dramatic swoosh that rises from the front fender, and continues through the front and rear doors into the tail lamps.
What’s not immediately noticeable is that the Jazz’s wheelbase has grown slightly, from 2 495 to 2 530, with minimal growth in the exterior dimensions of height and width. On this model, the range-topping Dynamic specification, the standard 16-inch alloys work well with the minimal front and rear overhangs to create a sporty profile.
Comfortable and spacious cabin
The Jazz’s perceived quality is arguably up there with the segment’s very best, despite the lack of soft-touch surfaces. Because of the increased length in its wheelbase (and other nifty touches such as a lower fuel tank profile, revised rear suspension and revised rear wheelarches), the company’s renowned Magic Seat multi-configuration folding system is put to even better use by way of more interior room for utility space.
The most obvious changes are right up front though, with a flatter facia and two large black central panels that left me rather confused when I first dropped into the driver’s seat. That’s because the larger unit mounted above the other is Honda’s new 7-inch touchscreen display (exclusive to this model) while the other lights up to reveal the ventilation/air conditioning controls upon two turns of the ignition switch.
What it’s like to drive
The Jazz also doesn’t disappoint in its driving experience either. This model is powered by the company’s familiar 1,5-litre four-cylinder motor with VTEC variable valve timing. Essentially, nothing has changed, so the outputs are exactly the same as before, but the VTEC system has been reprogrammed to deliver maximum torque 200 r/min earlier than its predecessor – resulting in improved overall fuel consumption.
Heading out of Cape Town on the R300 and N1 in the direction of Paarl, the Jazz once again proved how lively Honda’s engines are, revving cleanly from low engine speed, with the urgency increasing as the variable valve timing wizardry comes into play. At the national limit, the Jazz was comfortably sipping just over 5 litres/100 km according to the computer’s instantaneous fuel consumption meter.
Surprisingly, Honda’s decided to continue offering the Jazz with a five-speed manual – while most of its rivals have upgraded to an extra ratio. It’s not so much an issue of fuel efficiency (the Jazz averaged just over 7 litres/100 km after some very enthusiastic driving) – but noise efficiency as the 1,5-litre buzzes along at around 3 400 r/min when the speedometer sits at 120 km/h in top gear
Overall, the Jazz is once again a brilliant offering from the Japanese brand, but its asking price is quite steep when compared to the segment stalwarts. Nonetheless, we’re sure it’ll be as successful as its predecessors. Look out for a test in an upcoming issue of CAR.
Power:88 kW at 6 600 r/min
Torque:145 N.m at 4 600 r/min
0-100 km/h:9,9 seconds
Top Speed:180 km/h
Fuel Consumption:6,0 L/100 km
Maintenance Plan:4 years/60 000 km