Design Review

The Jazz made a lot of noise when it was launched – here was a hatchback, traditionally a poor man’s car – that cost more than a few sedans! Is it worth the hype? Sure, the Jazz has traditionally sold for a premium in markets around the world, but that hasn’t stopped it from selling well, thanks to its practicality. India, however, is a very different market, as manufacturers have learned at some point or another. Will its practical nature manage to outweigh the decidedly impractical price tag?

 

Design

You won’t mistake the new Jazz for anything but a Jazz, but the changes are in the details. At the front, you’ll see the chrome ‘mustache’ grille. The bumper is new as well, with creases running down from the middle of the headlamps to the bottom. It doesn’t gel with the rest of the front of the car, but it does lend a little bit of aggression to the front.

From the front three-quarters the Jazz looks a little rear-heavy, but the full effect of the monobox design hits you when you view it in profile. The large glass area is also on full display from the side, and on the top-end variant, the alloy wheels lend a sporty touch. There aren’t any strong lines in the Jazz; a small crease that runs from front fender flare to tail-lamp and a second one that starts off as the rear wheel arch and melts into the front door. There is a lightcatcher at the bottom of the doors, but again, it isn’t a strong, muscular addition.

From the rear three-quarters, the Jazz looks as wide as it is tall, with wide hips tapering to a relatively slim roof. There are new details on the Jazz’s rump – notice the new chrome strip above the registration plate? There also is new detailing in the tail-lamp lenses, although you won’t see it unless you get up close to the Jazz’s posterior.

Honda has retained the non-offensive look for the new Jazz, and it will appeal to those of a practical bent of mind – which is the target market for the car. No complaints, then, other than the front bumper that looks a little out of place compared to the rest of the design

User Experience Review

Nearly all the qualities of the City, minus the three-box design

 The Jazz is, in a nutshell, the most practical hatchback you can purchase today. The dashboard is the familiar asymmetric design from the preceding model, with the twin gloveboxes, single-disc audio player and large usable AC control knobs. The slider for switching from fresh air to recirculate is an anachronism and Honda needs to change it.

The steering wheel is nice to hold and has audio controls on it. The top-end X variant we have here has height adjustment for the driver’s seat and tilt-adjust steering, so finding a comfortable driving position was a cinch. We do wish the steering telescoped as well as tilted – other premium hatchbacks like the Fabia and Polo offer this feature, and it goes a long way in making drivers at the extreme ends of the height scale comfortable.

The mirrors are large and show enough of the road behind, but the fly in the ointment is the rear high-mounted LED stop light that prevents a tall driver from seeing far enough behind in the rearview mirror. This gets especially bad on highways, where speeds are high and you need to see as far as you can in the mirror.

There is a surfeit of storage space in the Jazz’s cabin, with as many as ten cupholders distributed around the interior, most of them reachable from the driver’s seat itself. The monobox design means that headroom is plenty – and that ramrod-straight rear means that the plentiful headroom is carried over to the rear seat as well. There’s an incredible amount of space in this car; it has more than enough for six-footers to lounge about.

The large windows lend a helping hand to the impression of space, but come summer and that air-con will have to work overtime to keep the cabin cool. Invest in good sun film, you’ll appreciate it during the summer.  The seats are spacious thanks to the width of the Jazz, and getting in and out is a breeze what with the doors that open wide and the seat height, which lets you walk in and out of the car.

The boot is appreciably large for a hatchback and it will take in enough luggage to compete with the best of the hatches. However, the ace up the Jazz’s sleeve are the ‘magic seats’ that let you carry more luggage through flexible folding. You can fold them flat, or lift the seat base to make them give you space for vertical storage. This takes the versatility of this car to a level that the competition cannot match.

Performance Review

Nearly all the qualities of the City, minus the three-box design

The Jazz has a modified-for-India 1193cc petrol engine that generates 90PS and 110Nm and is equipped with i-VTEC. In predictable Honda fashion, it’s a high-revving unit that forms most of its oomph in the mid-range and top end. That’s not to say that it’s gutless at low revs; it is really drivable no matter where in the rev range it is.

 

It is surprising even by Honda’s high standards on two counts: one, the Jazz usually retails with a 1.5-litre engine or a 1.3-litre one in markets worldwide. The 1.3 has lost a few ccs in the endeavour to duck beneath the 1.2-litre excise benefits, but it’s still very peppy considering the Jazz is a big, heavy car. Two, the Jazz engine is more refined than the City’s engine, which gets really noisy once it crosses the 3000rpm mark.

 

However, once you’ve got up to speed, the Jazz can put a big smile on your face. The electrically-assisted steering wheel is accurate and weighted well, if slightly artificially, and the gearbox offers crisp, positive shifts and short throws, which makes keeping the hornet of an engine on its toes an enjoyable job. At no point does the Jazz feel unable to handle anything you throw at it, with progressive understeer at the limit. Even here, one can feel that an upgrade to grippier compounds from the stock Michelin Energy XM1 tyres will yield better braking and handling results.

 

That said, the Jazz does get tiring to drive on long trips, because overtaking needs to be planned to compensate for the engine’s relative lack of power. A steady cruise at high speed can also get tiring due to the engine’s noise intruding into the cabin.

 

Fuel efficiency is really good at 16.7kmpl, accounting for the small-displacement engine and big, heavy body.

Verdict
The last verdict we wrote said that the Jazz was priced uncomfortably close to the City. As this is being written, the City is being offered with discounts of up to Rs 66,000, but the Jazz range now begins at a price of Rs 5.84 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai, and goes up to Rs 6.44 lakh for the all-singing, all-dancing X variant. That is incredible value for money, and not just for a Honda.

Need we say more?