If you are in the market for a good looking, well-engineered, relatively compact car on the outside but one which also offers a roomy cabin, then the new Jazz from Honda is a car to look at. It follows Honda’s man maximum, machine minimum principle to free up every centimetre of cabin space for occupant comfort. But has the Jazz got other qualities as well to ensure that it will stay ahead of its main rivals?
In their bid to cut development costs most carmakers share platforms for various body styles and Honda is no different. The Jazz is based on the same platform as the current City and that’s why both cars look so similar from the front end. The headlamps are similar as well. Honda has refrained from using the big chrome grille from the City and this gives the Jazz a sporty look. From the side the Jazz looks like a miniature version of the Mobilio and this MPV-like stance helps liberate acres of room inside the cabin. The rear isn’t as stylish as the front of the car. That said, Honda have tried to liven things up by offering reflectors positioned above the tail lamps.
The first thing I told myself as soon as I entered the Jazz’s cabin is, that this car will shame every rival for sheer space inside the cabin. Not only is the Jazz the most roomy car in this segment, it will blow away many cars from a segment or two higher for sheer cabin space and comfort. Where the Jazz also excels is in the seat comfort department. The cushioning is excellent as is the support from both rows of seats.
The dashboard is exactly the same one as on the City and this gives the car a funky and unique personality on the inside. The top-end version gets the touch panel for AC controls. Quality is at par with most rivals, but the Hyundai Elite i20 certainly has the edge in materials as well as the ‘feel-good’ factor. The Jazz though boasts of the biggest boot in this class, it can accommodate 354litres of luggage. The rear seat back folds down as well to give you a bigger loading area. The top-end VX version gets the ‘magic seats’ where the seats can be folded away in three different arrangements for greater cabin flexibility.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The Jazz will come with Honda’s tried and tested 1.2-litre petrol as well as the 1.5-litre diesel engine. Both the engines are shared with other cars in the Honda India range. The petrol develops 89bhp while the diesel generates 98bhp of power. Fuel economy rather than outright performance is what both engines are tuned for. The petrol will deliver 18.7kpl in manual version while the diesel will return 27.3kpl. There is also a CVT-automatic on offer, which will deliver 19kpl economy.
Performance from the petrol motor is pretty good considering its small capacity. The engine is smooth for the most part and even when you rev it hard, the cabin remains a quiet place to sit in. The five speed gearbox is a smooth unit and offers direct and positive shifts. This i-VTEC motor loves to be revved and does so without any fuss.
The diesel engine suffers from turbo lag below 2,000rpm and is very lazy below that mark. Its noise levels are very high as well, especially when you compare it with rivals like the Hyundai Elite i20 and even the Maruti Swift. The cabin becomes even noisier when you rev this motor hard. The extra sixth gear on the gearbox gives the engine great flexibility and helps it achieve the stellar fuel economy.
Ride and handling
Honda engineers have done a good job with the car’s ride. It soaks in the bumps well at slow city speeds and only the worst patchwork roads make their presence felt in the cabin. High speed ride is good as well, and even though the Jazz isn’t as rock solid as a VW Polo, it feels well composed on most surfaces. Handling is sure footed but there is plenty of body roll when you push it hard into a corner, which means keener drivers will have to look elsewhere for thrills. The light steering makes it easy to punt this car around city traffic.
Safety and features
You get two airbags as well as ABS as part of the features list if you choose the top versions. There is also Bluetooth for the stereo, steering mounted controls, automatic climate controls as well as rear parking camera among other things on offer. Surprisingly a start/stop button is missing as is a switch for the central locking.
Honda seems to have hit the nail on the head in the premium hatchback segment. The new Jazz offers plenty of space, decent features and the versatility of a car much bigger in size. The diesel version is brilliant for economy too. All that with the Honda badge means that residual values will be strong and you will get good value at the time of resale. Honda might just have a big winner in the new Jazz.