Honda Jazz

NZ Today - - ON MOTORING -

Also known as a used im­port un­der the Fitt moniker, the lat­est and third gen­er­a­tion of Honda Jazz was re­leased in early July.

Be­fore at­tend­ing the Na­tional Field Days in June I went to the Jazz Press launch, at a swanky win­ery north of Auck­land, to lis­ten to Honda’s PR team brief mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists on its new toy.

It is an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant model for Honda as the small ve­hi­cle seg­ment hots up with in­creas­ing em­pha­sis on re­duc­ing fuel bills, with­out los­ing the tech­nol­ogy and ver­sa­til­ity that is now ex­pected of the mod­ern car.

Avail­able in hatch only with two mo­tors and four mod­els, the big­gest news is that not only has the price dropped from the pre­vi­ous Jazz, the elec­tronic wizardry is stan­dard across the whole range. So you’ll have a 7-inch touch screen, re­vers­ing cam­era and Sat Nav, Blue­tooth with mu­sic stream­ing, cruise con­trol and com­puter along with steer­ing wheel mounted con­trols, heat ab­sorb­ing glass and al­loy wheels on the Honda Jazz S base model, 1.3 litre, 73kW, 119Nm, $23,700 au­to­matic.

I love the space that Honda has found in­side. 363 litres in the boot is class-leading, cou­pled with the ‘magic seats’, Rears can have bases lifted for a flat floor space for tall ob­jects, the seat­backs fold flat and even the front pas­sen­ger seat folds for­ward to give 2.2 me­ters of length; enough for a surf board. 5 star ANCAP rated the safety fea­tures in­clud­ing 6 airbags and ESP are all in­cluded.

We got to drive only the big­ger mo­tored 1.5 litre 97kW 155Nm mod­els, the RS, RS Sort and RS Mu­gen top­ping off the price list at $29,500 man­ual. All the 1.5s are avail­able in both man­ual and an ex­tra $1400 for the Auto.

Sadly, like more than 90% of all cars, the up­take will be in au­to­matic.

I got to drive the wild black RS Mu­gen 6-speed man­ual, which has a Sports Kit, Aero Bumpers, Sports steer­ing and sill gar­nishes. Also, as in the pic, it is fit­ted with a $900 sports ex­haust sys­tem that aids low down ac­cel­er­a­tion and sounds fan­tas­tic at 7000rpm. I drove it west from High­way 16 that con­nects Auck­land with He­lensville, turn­ing off to sam­ple the hills and curves that reel in the road to Muri­wai Beach; oh so quickly when you have a per­for­mance ve­hi­cle. Neu­tral han­dling on 17inch al­loys can switch to a lit­tle over­steer on sharp cor­ners when brak­ing through the curve. I found though that while you can pro­voke it, to in­duce some ex­cite­ment, it was easy to place and stay on your patch of the blacktop!

The big­gest seller is likely to be the budget 1.3, which is any­thing but. We didn’t get to drive it as it has not hit our shores yet. I liked the ad­ven­tur­ous colour se­lec­tions like Vi­o­let Yel­low and Or­ange that make a wel­come change from the bor­ing sil­vers and greys we get dished up at present.

Honda is bet­ting the farm on a num­ber two po­si­tion [up from three] and with this car priced in­cred­i­bly sharply, lav­ishly equipped and in­clud­ing a new five-year War­ranty they might just do it.

Honda Jazz’s lined up for press.

Bright colours avail­able on new Honda Jazz. Note twin ex­hausts on Mu­gen.

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