“Honda Jazz is very spacious and the flexibility inside the cabin makes it extremely versatile, while the new and punchy diesel heart comes at the right time,” says Indian motoring website MotorBeam.
One of the premium hatchbacks to enter the country in the second half of the previous decade, Honda Jazz offered a powerful petrol motor, plenty of space and an impressive build quality. However, Honda's unrealistic price tag and the market's shift towards diesel powered vehicles spelt doom for the hatch. With the model having made a silent exit around two years ago, the Japanese manufacturer is now all set to launch the third generation Jazz in the country promising the same attributes, but now with a diesel engine. MotorBeam drove the 2015 Honda Jazz and here is what we think of it.
Unlike its rivals, Honda Jazz has always managed to stand out with its unique identity and the company has evolved the same with the new generation. More like a compact MPV in profile, the premium hatchback gets neat design elements on the front fascia like the angular lines, single-barrel headlights (similar to the City), piano black finish grille and a subtle chrome lining below. The side profile looks big courtesy the large glasshouse area and the black A and B-pillar look very appealing.
There is a strong belt-line moving from the doors up to the funky looking LED tail lights that are reminiscent of the Volvo V40. You also get a chunky chrome bar in the centre with the ‘H’ logo, while the rear bumper gets a rectangular mesh finish on either side to reduce the visual bulk. Giving a sporty touch to the Jazz is a rear spoiler with a centre stop lamp, but the current tyres spoil the show and do feel a tad small. Overall, the hatchback isn’t the most exciting around but will grow on you with time.
Sharing its dashboard with the City, the interiors of the Jazz are almost as wide as the former but with minor changes. The mirror adjustment buttons under the right side AC vents have been shifted to the driver side door next to the power window controls and is replaced by a cup holder. While the plastic quality is good, cost cutting is evident as it misses on auto lock, keyless entry, push start button, rear AC vents and 3 power sockets, otherwise seen on the City. You do get 9 cup holders, steering mounted controls, 6.2-inch touchscreen AVN infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, USB, CD and AUX connectivity (lower trims get a 5-inch screen).
The three-pod instrument cluster is carried over from the City. The wide doors offer easy ingress and egress, while the cabin is finished in black with beige upholstered seats. The top-end VX trim features an all-black interior with black upholstery and gets Magic Seats (a segment first) with four modes – Utility, Tall, Long and Refresh, which offer a whole lot of flexibility. Space inside the cabin is generous with the fuel tank placed in the centre that results into overwhelming legroom and headroom, even for tall passengers.
Thigh support though is lacking and the fixed rear headrests aren’t great either. Another segment first, the Jazz gets reclining rear seats. The boot space is measured at a large 354-litre and is expandable up to 881 litres with the rear seats folded. Honda has provided a 14-inch space saver in spite of the Jazz running on 15-inch wheels.
Available in petrol and now a diesel engine, power on the 2015 Honda Jazz comes from a 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol motor that also does duty on the Brio and Amaze, but is tuned to produce 90 PS and 110 Nm of torque, paired to either a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed CVT transmission. Mid range is the engine's strong point and one does have to rev the motor a little to get going, but performance post the 4000 RPM mark gets enthusiastic. With four people loaded in the car, getting power out of the petrol engine does need a bit of effort.
Coming to the 7-speed CVT, the unit is smooth and comes with paddle shifters, a segment first feature. However, the engine here is an average performer and does not offer the complimenting power. You also get a Sport mode that make the shifts happen a tad quicker. The 1.5-litre i-VTEC from the City is missed.
Coming to the new 1.5-litre diesel engine, the motor makes 100 PS and 200 Nm of torque and is paired to only a 6-speed manual gearbox. The oil burner is a lag free unit but with high NVH levels. Honda has widened the gear ratios on the Jazz for better acceleration with strong low as well as mid-range performance and offers an adequate amount of power, unlike the petrol mill.
The diesel motor has been tuned for higher efficiency and returns an ARAI certified 27.3 km/l, making Jazz India's second most fuel efficient car. Fuel efficiency on the petrol stands at an ARAI certified 18.7 km/l on the manual and 19 km/l on the CVT.
Honda has updated the third generation Jazz with a new chassis, suspension and steering wheel while the overall weight has reduced by 11 kgs over its predecessor. A typical Honda trait, the suspension setup is on the stiffer side that result into sharp bumps being felt inside the cabin, but the overall ride quality is good. Given the height of the Jazz, body roll is evident, but the hatch feels very much in control and handles nicely. The steering wheel is light at low speeds and weighs up evenly at high speeds.
While not in the league of Fiat Punto or Volkswagen Polo, it is quick and you do end up having fun around the bends. Compared to the predecessor, Honda has worked on improving the ground clearance that makes the underbelly less prone to scraping, courtesy of the changed exhaust layout around the wheelbase centre. Braking performance did feel inadequate due to the smaller Michelin XM1 tyres on our test car which do not provide the needed grip levels to stop the car from triple digit speeds.
The 2015 Honda Jazz gets a 5-star rating from Australian NCAP (ANCAP), but the international spec model comes with side airbags that aren’t offered in India. However, you do get dual front airbags and ABS as standard on mid and top-end variants while the build quality is appreciable as well. The Japanese auto giant currently has close to 240 service outlets in the country and the overall service is largely good by the dealers.
One of the best sellers in Japan, the third generation Honda Jazz certainly packs in quite a punch with overwhelming space and flexible storage options that seldom remind you of its hatchback proportions. The car is decently loaded as well in terms of features and definitely holds a candle against the segment leading Hyundai Elite i20. It all now depends on how Honda prices the Jazz which will truly determine the success or failure of this otherwise very capable offering.