Jazz all that
One of Honda’s longest serving cars is still its best
THE term poverty pack’’ special no longer applies to even the cheapest kids on the city car lot. Honda’s Jazz Vibe is an example. The Japanesebuilt car starts at $15,990 and, performance apart, has most features buyers hope to see in a new car. It’s also easy to drive, has stand-out looks and the best resale value in the class.
Competition is intense at the starter car level. The Jazz is up there but Mitsubishi leads the pack with a $12,990 Mirage. Most makers operate in the $15,000-$16,000 range and it is here the Jazz finds its rhythm.
Standard gear includes 15-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, climate-controlled aircon, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The five-speed automatic adds $2000 and includes steering-wheel mounted paddleshifters— not that lightning gearchanges are a priority for the 1.3-litre engine.
The Honda is dated but not unduly disadvantaged against even its newest rivals, which shows how good the original package was.
The 1.3 is midstream in terms of fuel use and performance,
making the 1.5 fitted to upperspec models a better proposition for enthusiastic drivers.
Long, steep uphill runs with four aboard tests the Vibe but urban driving is a breeze, especially with the reasonably intuitive five-speed auto.
A little car with a big boot is always handy. Throw in the Jazz’s unmatched ability to flip and fold the rear seats flat and it becomes a home-shifting mini-mover when required.
The interior looks old school — and not in an intentional Mini kind of way— with hard plastics and monochrome displays. On the flip side, occupant stowage space is right up there and all-round vision is a strong suit.
Six airbags, seat-belt reminders and rock-solid chassis make the Vibe a strong performer when you need it to be. ANCAP awarded it five stars in 2011 noting that ‘‘ the passenger compartment held its shape well (in the offset crash test). There was a slight risk of serious chest and leg injury for the driver.’’
Honda gets the most out of the 1.3. Still, performance is the only area where the little Honda lags class leaders such as the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta.
In its home environment of tight suburban streets and traffic light queues, the Honda has few peers. The elevated front seats give a commanding view of the road; the steering is light without being dead and it accelerates OKoff the lights, courtesy of a typically revvy Honda engine.
The ride is firm but that doesn’t, sadly, translate into a sporty chassis. This is built-topurpose transport for everyday drivers who don’t want to pretend they’re at the local track. And it excels at it, taking a pair of lanky teenagers and their giant backpacks without contorting occupants or luggage.
Practicality dictates what most light car owners buy and it is hard to go past the Jazz on that front. It’s well built, versatile and comfortable— just what most owners want.