Testdrive Honda unveils a promising hatchback, the next generation Jazz
Honda has taken the wraps off its all-new, next-generation Jazz. The hatchback, although a competitive offering in its segment, failed to take off owing to its high asking price. This time around, the carmaker is determined to make more of an impression.
In its second coming sometime mid-2014, it is likely that Honda will offer it with the 1.5-litre i-DTEC ‘Earth Dreams’ diesel engine as seen on the Amaze and a 1.2-litre petrol engine as well. To keep the Jazz competitively priced, Honda will produce it at its Tapukara plant with a high percent of localisation. And since the new Jazz will share its platform with the new City (to be unveiled this month), economies of scale will further help keeping costs in check. We briefly drove the new Jazz at the Twin Ring Montegi Circuit in Japan and were rather impressed by it.
The new Jazz maintains the basic quasi-MPV hatch proportions of its predecessor. However, the grille is now sleeker, sportier and makes the car look more aggressive than before. Also, the large air-vents on the bumper further enhance its dynamic appeal. In profile, the new Jazz picks up from where its predecessor left off and Honda’s ‘H design’ language blends nicely with the profile of the car.
The prime noticeable differences here are that the new Jazz sports a strong character line that runs across from the rear tail-lamps tapering towards the front along the door handles (which are now pull-type) and terminates approximately where the front door begins. There is also a milder character line thrown in towards the bottom of the doors and both these combined, lend the Jazz a more muscular profile.
The shape of the greenhouse remains identical with minor tweaks. The front quarterglass is now smaller and is in the shape of a triangle. The window line is more raked towards the rear and results in a slightly less glass on the rear door. Also, the glass portion behind the rear door is has slightly diminished in size.
Inside, the cabin has a familiar layout however, the instrument cluster is all-new. The front seats are comfortable, supportive and items such as the cup holder and other commonly accessed bits are ergonomically well placed. The car we drove is the Japanese specification Fit (the Jazz is known as the Fit in Japan) and it featured a large multi-media screen based interface and digital climate control, though these may not make it to India. We noticed that Honda has dulled down the quality on some of the interior bits but you have to remember that this cost-cutting stems from the fact that Honda is aiming to price this car a lot more competitively than its predecessor. Just like the previous Jazz, the rear bench is very spacious. Knee room is quite generous, leaving even six footers with nothing to complain about. Also, the meaty seat squab has more than adequate thigh support too, easily rivalling that of some larger saloons. However, while the almost flat floor is designed to accommodate a third passenger, the slight bump in the middle section of the bench may be a bit uncomfortable over longer durations. Pop open the boot and just like the older Jazz, you’ll be impressed by how spacious it is.
The car we’ve briefly driven here is the Japanese specification 1.5-litre hybrid variant with a CVT gearbox and this variant may not make it to India. Instead, we will get the 87bhp 1.2-litre petrol motor and the 1.5-litre 98bhp diesel motor as seen on the Amaze. As for the car we drove, it felt extremely refined and had a very strong bottom end that resulted from the help provided by the electric motor at lower revs. We hope Honda introduces this motor in India at least as a limited run.
From the brief time we spent with the Jazz, we can safely say that, just like its predecessor, it’s a promising hatchback.
And unlike its predecessor, Honda is expected to be price it competitively (Rs. 6 lakh, estimated, ex-showroom, base variant) and more importantly, arm it with a diesel engine too.