New Honda Jazz hits a sharper note
By: Dave Abrahams
Cape Town - The Honda Jazz has always been one of the most versatile and practical cars in its class, says Honda SA director of operations Graham Eagle, but it's never been really cool. Until now.
Speaking this week at the South African launch of the third-generation Jazz - sold as the Fit in its home market - he said that Honda’s design brief had been to create a car with the same or better interior space and seating flexibility, inside a slightly smaller envelope with sleeker, more sharp-edged styling - and in fact the windshield of the new Jazz is so steeply raked that the profile of the bonnet and screen are very nearly continuous.
A longer wheelbase shortens the overhangs and benefits ride quality while harder edges and strongly marked wheel-arches replace the previous generations' softer curves. The longer wheelbase has also allowed some clever re-packaging, providing an additional 80mm between the hip points of the front and rear seats, and some extra foot-room for rear-seat occupants under the front seats.
The rear seats are also slightly set higher than on the previous version to improve the view from the peanut gallery.
The fuel tank, however, is still in its unusual position under the front seats - which is what makes possible the Jazz' signature 'Magic Seat' folding system, that converts this little MPV from a bus into a van - or back again! - in about as much time and with as much effort as it takes to say, “Abracadabra!”
The cabin has also been given a slightly edgier look, with black upholstery and soft-touch charcoal finishes, underlined by silver-finished trim accents. A new dashboard and instrument panel are centred on three clear, circular dials with blue backlighting, with a multifunction steering wheel as standard across the range.
The new Jazz will be available in South Africa in a choice of four trim levels, starting with the Trend and Comfort models, each with a front-loading CD system complete with auxiliary and USB ports as well as Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony.
The Elegance model has a five-inch colour display, while the flagship Dynamic trim replaces that with a seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system.
Front, side and curtain airbags are standard across the range, as are ABS, and an electronic stability programme, that uses data from monitors measuring wheel rotation, vehicle speed, steering input, lateral acceleration and yaw rate to apply braking force to one or more wheels independently while adjusting throttle input to minimise loss of traction.
The new Jazz also has motion-adaptive electric power steering that uses vehicle speed and steering angle data to detect instability and nudge in the right direction with gentle steering inputs.
TWO ENGINES, TWO TRANSMISSIONS, SEVEN MODELS
The familiar 1.5-litre i-Vtec petrol four is back, delivering 88kW at 6600 revs and 145Nm at 4600rpm, taking the new Jazz from 0-100 in 9.9 seconds - or 10.6 with the stepless CVT transmission - at a revised-cycle estimate of just under six litres per 100km.
The previous 1.3-litre version, however, has been replaced by an all-new 1.2-litre I-Vtec four for which Honda quotes 66kW at 6000 revs and 110Nm at 4800rpm, good enough to hit 100km/h from rest in 13.5 seconds (14.3 if you insist on CVT) and on to 175 (174) km/h, while warming the globe at a combined-cycle rate of 5.6 litres per 100km.
1.2 Trend - R179 900
1.2 Comfort - R204 900
1.2 Comfort CVT - R221 900
1.5 Elegance - R234 900
1.5 Elegance CVT - R249 900
1.5 Dynamic Manual - R249 900
1.5 Dynamic CVT - R264 900
The new Jazz will be available in South Africa from the beginning of February 2015. Prices include three-year or 100 000km warranty and, on all variants except the 1.2 Trend, a four-year or 60 000km service plan; your Jazz will need to go home to Mama every 15 000km.