The new Honda Jazz is the third generation of Honda’s premium hatchback and marks the fourth model in Honda’s global line-up after Accord, Civic and CR-V. Since it went on sale in Japan in 2001, the cumulative sales of the Honda Jazz has reached 5.5 million (55 lakhs) units selling in more than 75 countries in the world. Intelligent engineering, great packaging and practicality has been the hallmark of this premium hatchback and the new Honda Jazz has carried forward all these unique qualities that has won it much admiration around the globe. The Japanese carmaker is gearing up to launch the new Honda Jazz in India on July 8, 2015. The Jazz will compete with the hot selling Hyundai Elite i20 and Volkswagen Polo. But does the new Jazz have what it takes to outsell the Elite i20 or beat the Polo hands down? We spent an entire day with the new Honda Jazz VX (Petrol), V (Petrol CVT) and V (Diesel) in Goa to unravel the mystery for you. Read on to find out what we discovered.
Design & Engineering
The Honda Jazz has always been appreciated for its intelligent engineering. Based on Honda’s ‘Man Maximum Machine Minimum’ concept, the Japanese carmaker has been successful in achieving great packaging and practicality in the new Jazz. Dimensionally, the new Honda Jazz retains the same height and width as the previous model. However, the overall vehicle length has been increased by 55 mm to 3955 mm and the wheelbase has been lengthened by 30 mm to 2530 mm. This has not only resulted in an increase in passenger cabin and boot space, but also aided in a more stable ride quality.
In order to increase the freedom for the hip-point, the engineers has applied a new fuel tank with a lower profile that retains the same capacity (40 litres) and shorter rear suspension trailing arm, which made it possible to extend the floor rearward, increasing front-to-rear seating distance.
The exterior design of the new Honda Jazz has been based on the Crossfade Monoform design philosophy. The new Jazz looks sporty and dynamic and is sure to turn many heads on the roads. The narrow headlights and front grill blend in well to give the Honda Jazz a wide and intrepid look when viewed from the front. Sharp and well-defined character lines run along the side and lends it a masculine look. The rear features an all-new look with stylish direct LED tail lamps that extends to the tailgate. Along with 15-inch sporty alloy wheels, rear micro antenna, tailgate spoiler, stylish fog lamps and sleek turn indicator on the ORVMs, the new Jazz truly is a looker.
The 1.5-litre i-DTEC motor in Jazz diesel comes to life with a significantly audible clatter. The gruffness increases as you start revving at higher rpm with the noise filtering into the passenger cabin. Clearly, Honda engineers have to add more sound deadening materials as compared to the petrol variant to keep NVH levels in check.
The 2015 Honda Jazz will be available in a range of 7 colours – 5 basic and 2 character colours including a new Sunset Orange colour scheme.
Interiors & Comfort
Step inside the new Honda Jazz and you will be welcomed into a very spacious passenger cabin done up in either beige or sporty black (V and VX trims only) colour tone. The front seats are very comfortable and provide excellent all-round support. The rear seat is good for three people and offers decent under thigh support and backrest resulting into comfortable seating. The newly designed dashboard with piano black finish around the music system, automatic AC with touchscreen control panel, stylish instrument cluster all look very chic and refreshing. However, the piano black surface scratches very easily and may not look as pleasing and shiny after a few months if not maintained very diligently.
The new Honda Jazz features a blue-toned instrument cluster. To the left is the tachometer and gear position. In the centre is the speedometer, which also incorporates an Eco Assist light that changes from green, to blue-green to blue based on the efficiency of your driving style. And to the right is an enlarged information display with data such as current fuel economy, time and outside temperature.
The all new Honda Jazz features a 5-inch monitor audio system with a LCD display. The audio features an in-built handsfree telephone system. The handsfree telephone and audio control switches on the steering wheel give the driver easy access to a range of audio functionalities. An USB and auxiliary input jacks allows passengers to enjoy an iPod, MP3 player or other digital devices for audio entertainment. The top-end VX trim that we tested comes with a 6.2-inch touchscreen audio visual navigation system with normal view camera display and DVD playback.
The new Honda Jazz boasts of a 30 mm longer wheelbase (2530 mm) which has translated into more passenger cabin space and an additional 3 inches of front-to-rear seating room. As a result of Honda’s intelligent packaging, the overall passenger volume is up by 139 litre, front shoulder room has increased by 35 mm, rear tandem distance is up by 80 mm, the knee clearance has been increased by 65 mm and the rear leg room is up by 115 mm making the new Honda Jazz the most spacious car in its segment.
The new Honda Jazz also offers a class-leading 354 litre of luggage space and a convenient luggage room and offers ease of luggage loading. And with the flexibility of the Magic Seat (available in the top VX grade only), which folds and flips up, the Jazz has the versatility to adapt to a wide variety of passenger and cargo-hauling needs. The four configuration modes of the Magic Seat are utility mode, tall mode, long mode and refresh mode. Fold the rear seat forward and the Honda Jazz provides and enormous 881 litre of luggage space.
Performance & Handling
The new Honda Jazz diesel is powered by a 4 cylinder, i-DTEC engine displacing 1498 cc mated to a 6-speed manual gear box. The diesel engine produces 100 PS of maximum power at 3600 rpm and 200 Nm of peak torque at a low 1750 rpm.
However, the 1.5-litre diesel is quite powerful and responsive. On the move the engine exhibits very little turbo lag and the power delivery is linear. Even at low speeds and in high gear the engine doesn't knock or stalls and pulls well from low revs, making it ideal as a city car. The new 6-speed gearbox is smooth and the gear slots in with precision. In the interest of better mileage, Honda has opted for 6 gear ratios, with both 5th and 6th gear being very tall.
The car handles decently well and remains poised at high speed. Traction is good and there is no body roll while negotiating corners. A redesigned front McPherson strut suspension and high rigidity H-type torsion beam rear suspension setup ensures a plush ride quality.
The new Honda Jazz petrol is powered by a 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine displacing 1198 cc mated to either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT). This petrol engine which also did duty on the earlier Jazz and the present Brio hatch delivers 90 PS of maximum power at 6000 rpm and 110 Nm of peak torque at 4800 rpm.
The 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine is silky smooth, however, it turned out to be grossly underpowered, and runs out of breadth far too often. While overtaking and on open stretches you will realise that the new Honda Jazz petrol lacks the punch much to the disappointment of an enthusiast. The 5-speed manual transmission too appears to be a bit notchy. The increased wheelbase in the new Jazz results in a better handling and ride quality.
The newly developed CVT (available on V petrol trim) was slightly more fun to drive and claims to offer better mileage in comparison to its MT sibling. The new CVT has a 19 percent wider ration range, allowing the engine to operate at the optimum rpm level for maximum efficiency and driving pleasure. The CVT transmission can be controlled with steering mouthed, dual-mode paddle shifters. The system has two modes. D mode is fully automatic, however, the paddle shifters can be used to shift the transmission up or down, such as downshifting for greater braking while descending a steep hill. For spirited driving, S mode includes 7 preset ratios and will maintain the selected ratio until the driver operates the paddle shifters again. In the S mode, the system will only shift automatically to prevent over-revving or lugging of the engine.
Honda claims that the 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine mated to the 5-speed manual transmission delivers an ARAI-ratified fuel efficiency of 18.7 kmpl while the same powertrain mated to the CVT returns a mileage of 19 kmpl.
The Japanese carmaker also boasts that the 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel motor delivers a fuel efficiency of 27.3 kmpl. And although we didn’t get an opportunity to conduct a proper mileage test, however, nevertheless Honda engines have always been champions of efficiency, setting the benchmark, and we expect the new Jazz to be no different.
The new Honda Jazz features front dual SRS airbags and comes equipped with anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic brake distribution (EBD). The ABS is an important safety features in the Indian driving conditions, especially during monsoon, and modulates braking power at each wheel to help the driver retain steering control during emergency heavy braking. EBD automatically optimises braking force between the front and rear wheels, helping ensure that the vehicle stops in the shortest distance possible. The V and VX trims get rear parking camera but no parking sensors even on the top VX variant.
The Honda Jazz is intelligently engineered and very well packaged. Kudos to the Honda engineers for the brilliant packaging and practicality on the new Jazz. It also looks very modern and stylish and is sure to turns many heads on the road. Fit and finish is great. The interior is very spacious and tastefully done up. And with the flexibility of the Magic Seat (available in the top VX grade only), which folds and flips up, the Jazz has the versatility to adapt to a wide variety of passenger and cargo-hauling needs. The 1.5-litre i-DTEC is powerful and responsive resulting in a joyous drive. The 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol is disappointing due to inadequate power, but nonetheless offers a silky smooth drive.
Pricing as always will be a key factor, and Honda Car India is said to have learned its lesson by pricing the previous Jazz too highly. This had led to the company having to discount the car heavily to move sales, which killed the perception of the Honda brand and put off many existing Jazz customers. This time however, Honda is said to be looking at a very aggressive price, thanks to a comprehensive localisation programme, of over 90 percent in comparison to the previous 72 percent, which should see the prices of the new Honda Jazz starting at around the Rs 5 lakh mark for the base petrol and breaching the Rs 9 lakh barrier for the top-end diesel.