Jazz puts in a boot

Honda aims for young and old with a grown-up ver­sion of a favourite hatch, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive Honda City -

IN THE light-car class, hatches rule. But Honda has taken a leaf out of the Toy­ota Yaris book and in­tro­duced a sedan ver­sion of its Jazz, called the City. Toy­ota’s pop­u­lar seller is not the only tar­get, though. The 1.5-litre City also has de­signs on the Holden Ba­rina, Kia Cerato, Hyundai Ac­cent, Kia Rio and Nis­san Ti­ida sedans.

Though Honda is not aim­ing to eclipse the Yaris, the City is a clear sig­nal that the com­pany is em­brac­ing younger buy­ers and re­tirees who want to down-size without los­ing lug­gage space or the fun fac­tor.

Like the Jazz, the Honda City shares plenty, in­clud­ing 1.5-litre four-cylin­der en­gine and sus­pen­sion. The big dif­fer­ence is the styling and the big boot.

Honda has given the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior a more ‘‘grown-up’’ look that is both dis­tinc­tive and sporty in the light-car seg­ment.

It gets a strik­ing grille, slim-line head­lights and a pro­file that Honda calls ‘‘ar­row­shot form’’.

At the back there are ob­vi­ous styling cues from the larger Honda sedan fam­ily.

The City’s ex­cep­tion­ally roomy boot holds 10 litres more than a Holden Com­modore Omega.

At 506 litres with a 60/40 split fold rear seat the boot is big­ger than even the Ac­cord (450 litres) and Ac­cord Euro (467 litres).

Two mod­els are avail­able, the VTi and the VTi-L, with prices start­ing at $20,490 for the VTi and $22,990 for the VTi-L five-speed man­u­als. The five-speed au­to­matic adds $2300.

As ex­pected of a Honda, both mod­els are com­pre­hen­sively equipped.

The VTi gets power win­dows and mir­rors, cen­tral lock­ing and an iPod/MP3-com­pat­i­ble sin­gle in-dash CD stereo.

The safety kit in­cludes anti-skid brakes, brake as­sist, dual front, side and cur­tain airbags and front seat­belt pre­ten­sion­ers.

Elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol is on the agenda but is un­likely to be avail­able for 18 months, ac­cord­ing to Honda spokesman Mark Hig­gins.

ESC is not a high pri­or­ity in the Asian mar­kets where most of the Ci­tys sell, he says.

‘‘It also needs to be cal­i­brated and tested in our con­di­tions.’’

Though not yet crash-tested, the City can hope for only a four-star rat­ing without ESC.

The Aus­tralian New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram re­quires ESC to be in­cluded to achieve the max­i­mum five-star rat­ing.

The VTi-L adds tilt and tele­scopic steer­ing, 16-inch al­loys, chrome door han­dles, fog­lights, bet­ter trim and leather steer­ing wheel.

the Honda City is com­ing here af­ter be­ing a big sales suc­cess over­seas.

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