New Honda Jazz band

The three up­graded mod­els have more power but are less fuel ef­fi­cient, writes KEVIN HEP­WORTH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive Honda Jazz -

THE sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the Honda Jazz has had its fan­fare, and the mu­sic is ex­pected to be just as sweet this time round.

The new Jazz is still belt­ing out the same tune that helped the orig­i­nal sell more than 2.5 mil­lion ex­am­ples, but this time the Aussiebound mod­els are a lit­tle off-key.

Big­ger, sharper, more pow­er­ful, heav­ier and a tad less fuel-ef­fi­cient, the new Jazz will also be miss­ing any hint of an elec­tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gram (ESP), de­spite the life­sav­ing tech­nol­ogy be­ing avail­able in Europe and Ja­pan.

‘‘We would have liked it, ab­so­lutely, but I don’t think it will cost us sales,’’ Honda Aus­tralia se­nior di­rec­tor Lind­say Smal­ley says.

‘‘There are a cou­ple of rea­sons we can’t get it at the mo­ment.

‘‘First, we have a dif­fer­ent en­gine and trans­mis­sion con­fig­u­ra­tion for the Asia-Ocea­nia re­gion (1.5-litre en­gine and stan­dard au­to­matic). ESP is de­signed for the Euro­pean-spec with a 1.4-litre en­gine and CVT trans­mis­sion, the same as in Ja­pan.’’

Sec­ond, he says, ESP is not seen as much of an is­sue in Asia.

How­ever, it will be avail­able within 12 months.

Honda has stuck with the three­model strat­egy for the Jazz, start­ing with the GLi at $15,990 (plus $2000 for the au­to­matic)and $19,170 for the VTi man­ual or $21,490 for the five-speed au­to­matic.

Top­ping the range is the VTi-S at $21,590 ($23,920 auto).

The en­try-level model comes with a new iVTEC-equipped SOHC 1.3-litre four-cylin­der en­gine putting out 73kW and 127Nm, up 12kW and 8Nm over the out­go­ing model.

Brak­ing across the range has been up­graded with stan­dard rear discs re­plac­ing drums. But the base car still comes with only two airbags stan­dard. Side and cur­tain bags are a $1000 op­tion.

Gen­er­ally, stan­dard equip­ment lev­els are high for the light-car class, with rake-and-reach ad­justable steer­ing wheel, 15-inch steel wheels, power win­dows and mir­rors, cen­tral lock­ing and a sin­gle-disc four­s­peaker MP3-player com­pat­i­ble au­dio sys­tem with speed-sen­si­tive vol­ume con­trol.

There are plenty of stor­age nooks and cran­nies and the sim­ple-fold rear seats al­low fo rea­son­able lug­gage.

Step­ping up to the VTi and VTiS brings a new 1.5-litre SOHC i-VTEC en­gine with 88kW and 145Nm. For an ex­tra $3200 the VTi adds steer­ing wheel au­dio con­trols, an in­for­ma­tion dis­play and alarm.

Go to the top of the class and the VTi-S adds 16-inch al­loys and more ag­gres­sive ex­te­rior styling with a sports grille, side skirts and new front and rear bumper treat­ment.

In ad­di­tion to 16-inch al­loys, the VTi-S gets a sports grille and front and rear bumpers (think Type-R shape and treat­ment).


THE in­te­rior of the Jazz was and still is a rea­son­ably comfortable place to be. The ad­di­tion of reach and rake ad­just­ments to the steer­ing — cou­pled with rea­son­able seat ad­just­ment — make it sim­ple to find the best drive po­si­tion.

Seats are comfortable without be­ing out­stand­ing and most of the er­gonomics in the cabin are at the front of the light-car seg­ment.

Di­als are large and easy to use and in­for­ma­tion de­liv­ery is sim­ple and to the point.

Some of the in­te­rior trim — the plas­tics in par­tic­u­lar— show signs of cost­man­age­ment, but the car is de­signed to sell at the lower end of the new-car spec­trum.

The short (very short) launch drive pro­gram con­cen­trated on the city en­vi­rons that most of th­ese cars will travel in, and only the 1.5-litre was of­fered for as­sess­ment this time.

Power is not a big fac­tor in cars of this style, but the Jazz quickly shakes off any sug­ges­tion it’s a slug.

Away from a stand­ing start the car will hold its own in city traf­fic.

Around town the steer­ing is light and pre­cise enough but a long way from be­ing en­gag­ing. Miss­ing is the pre­vi­ous model’s con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion, re­placed by a five-speed au­to­matic.

Changes are smooth and the ra­tios gen­er­ally sen­si­ble.

Around town the tall fifth gear is rarely utilised for long. It may well come into its own when cruis­ing, but adds to hunt­ing be­tween fourth and fifth in city driv­ing.

Honda’s en­gi­neers claim to have stiff­ened the Jazz for tor­sional rigid­ity but they have also been busy re­fin­ing the sus­pen­sion set­tings.

Gone is the un­set­tling ‘‘bounce’’ from the pre­vi­ous model, a good thing in the city, where speed bumps and poor road sur­faces will test any dampers.

Big­ger across the range: the Jazz is wider (20mm) and longer (55mm) but no higher and has ex­tra legroom for rear-seat pas­sen­gers.

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