The original Jazz introduced in India in the year 2009 was an attempt by Honda to provide a premium, high quality and feature loaded big hatchback for the masses. It had everything going in its favor –looked great, had enough space to shame quite few sedans and came equipped with features that every customer would every desire or require. However, the only sore point in the complete package was its pricing. At over Rs 7 lakh, the Jazz didn’t seem to make sense for Indians. In our country, no matter how huge a hatchback is, consumers are still not mature enough to shell out sedan rivaling money for it.
Over the years, the Jazz’s sales never picked up. And hence, to finally take on the rivals like the Hyundai i20 and Maruti Swift, Honda did the unexpected. Sure, we all knew the upgraded Jazz would be hitting the showrooms soon with a slashed sticker price but no one would have imagined the kind of reduction Honda did to the Jazz’s pricing! The Jazz range now starts at Rs 5.5 lakh for the base or the ‘S’ version and yet comes with goodies like ABS, twin air-bags and steering wheel controls for the audio system. The ‘Select’ and ‘X’ variants are priced at Rs 5.75 and Rs 6.06 lakh (ex-showroom prices). So is the Honda Jazz the best value for money premium petrol hatchback? Read on to know more…
The Honda Jazz’s wheelbase, at 2500 mm, is longer than cars like the new Maruti Swift, Nissan Micra, Tata Indica Vista, Volkswagen Polo and Toyota Etios Liva. This means that there is more room on the inside for passengers. Infact, Honda has taken the “Man Maximum Machine Minimum” concept to a new level with this hatchback. Step inside and you are greeted by vast amounts of space, enough to shame quite a few sedans out there in the market. The quality of interiors (plastics and panels) is something that Honda is known for the Jazz scores top marks here.
Touch and feel any part of the console or the fascia and you are bound to be impressed. The design of the cabin is modern and has great touches like cubby holes for keeping knick knacks, integration of the audio system et al. Ergonomics are top notch and the view of the road ahead great. The climate control is manually operated unlike say the top end Nissan Micra or Hyundai i20 but nevertheless, its rotary dials are fuss-free and easy to operate. The front two passengers get clever glass holders in front of the air-con vents to keep drinks chilled and the twin glove boxes add to the practicality front.
The new Jazz gets new Amber coloured stereoscopic dials that look terrific at night, new beige black theme for the seats (on Jazz and Jazz Select) and reclining rear seats. The top end X version gets electrically retractable outside rear view mirrors and the audio system now comes with USB as standard. Another feature in the Jazz’s cap is the class leading boot space of 384 litres. To put things into prespective, Honda’s own City has just 5% more boot space! Jazz’s magic seats are another plus point and flip / fold in various configurations to suit different needs and applications.
At 3900mm in length, 1695mm in width and 1535mm in height, the Jazz was always a large hatchback in the segment. Infact, its road presence is good and a few colors like the “Rallye Red” shown here really make it stands out among the usual crowd of premium hatchbacks. The front has a typical cab forward stance with a dynamic forward leaning design with a small bonnet area. This lends the Jazz a very sporty look when see from the front three quarters as well as from the side and this in turn helps liberate space inside.
The bonnet as well as the side profile of the car has crisp design lines across their individual lines which add character to the car. The A-pillar has a sleek angle which carries onto the middle of the roof, followed by a slight depression in the angle of the rear end of the car. Glass area on the Jazz is huge which gives the interiors an airy feel. The 175/65 wheels on 15-inch rims or alloys (as per the version) fill the wheel arches pretty well.
The upgraded version of the Jazz has a few changes on the outside. These include new front grille, newly designed bumpers, new headlights with silver and black matt finish and new chrome garnish (in the Select variant). These changes go a long way in making this hatchback look even more premium and stylish. Infact, we are sure consumers who will buy the base variant will adorn it with after-market low profile alloy wheels. Among all the high end hatchbacks in India, the Jazz surely looks one of the best. The Select and X versions come with newly designed alloy wheels as well.
The Jazz continues to be powered by the same 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine that was specially designed for the Indian market. Although Honda could have used the fabulous 1.5-litre unit from the City, but that would have resulted in Jazz not enjoying the tax benefits that come associated with a hatchback under 4m and an engine not bigger than 1.2-litres. Honda hasn’t done any changes to the power-plant and this indeed is a good step.
At 90PS, it puts out the maximum power among all the similar sized engines in the segment although the torque rating, at 110Nm, is short of the likes of the Hyundai i20 and Maruti Swift and further, it comes at a higher engine speed of 4800rpm. Nevertheless, the Jazz feels great to drive in city and only on the highways above speeds of 120km/h or so does the engine starts feeling a little breathless. That said, in everyday driving, the engine responds well and like any other typical Honda unit, is super smooth and silent and the drive by wire throttle responds well to the driver’s inputs. The ARAI fuel economy certification is on the lower side at 16.7kmpl though the on-board driver information display for fuel economy will certainly help owners get the maximum out of this engine. The motor is mated to a 5-speed gearbox with a positive shift action.
One of the biggest traits of the Jazz is the way it feels to drive. Not only is it very spacious on the inside, giving its passengers a feel of a big car, but the way it drives in a composed and settled manner also lends the same expression. It has saloon like comfort and handles pretty well for its size. It may not be as fun as say the Polo but has a balanced compromise between comfort and handling. There is a hint of body roll but it’s well controlled and the Michelines (we think it’s the only hatchback in the segment to come with such premium tyres) work very well in making the car stick to the road.
The steering is light and good for slow speed usage. We have seen a fair amount of fair sex behind the wheel of Jazz on the road and this simply goes to show how easy the car is to manage in typical city conditions.
Hit the highways at triple digit speeds and the Jazz feels safe and secure. High speed lane changing doesn’t make you nervous either. All the three variants come with ABS which further makes you feel comfortable at high speeds in tricky driving conditions like rain.
The new Honda Jazz starts at Rs 5.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the base or the S version, Rs 5.75 lakh for the Select version and finally Rs 6.06 lakh for the top end ‘X’ version. Even the entry level base model comes with features like ABS, Air-bags for driver and co-driver and steering wheel controls for the audio system. Honda has really done a very praise worthy work by slashing the Jazz’s price by around Rs 1.75 lakh! Without a doubt, the new Jazz offers terrific value for money. It has everything that a typical consumer in this segment is looking for. Design wise, it wins our hearts. On the inside, space is class leading with the biggest boot around. Feature list is impressive and the petrol engine is smooth with good power though lacks fuel economy as compared to key rivals.
As a complete package for someone looking at a premium petrol hatchback packed with features, there is no denying the fact that the new Jazz is our pick of the lot. For example, the Jazz is Rs 20k more than the petrol Hyundai i20 Sportz yet has more features. Similarly, the Jazz is as much as the top end Maurti Swift ZXI but has better quality interiors, more space and ofcourse a better brand value!
The Honda Jazz finally will get the success it has always deserved. And we hear that the waiting period is already started running into months within a week of its launch – do we need to say more?