It’s a second coming for the Jazz. And, this time, Honda has added a diesel engine to the mix. An affordable price tag could set it on the road to success, which eluded it last time…
Honda has decided to shake up the premium hatchback market by re-launching the Jazz, which originally created this segment. The previous Jazz was launched in 2009, and had many things going for it – a spacious cabin and an efficient petrol engine. But what proved to be a roadblock was its high price and the lack of a diesel option. The reason its price remained high was because the Japanese manufacturer failed to localise the majority of its parts. But the current scenario could be quite favourable, as buyers don’t mind paying a premium for a bigger hatch. Moreover, Honda has overcome its other stumbling block by slotting in its recently developed 1.5-litre diesel mill, which powers the Amaze, Mobilio and City.
Though the Jazz may look similar to its previous model, it’s actually built from scratch and is all-new. The height and width of the car remain the same, but it is slightly longer – which translates into more space for the passengers. The design may not be particularly striking, but it does come across as being sharp and contemporary – which should attract young buyers. And it no longer looks plain Jane, as it has a more aggressive stance thanks to the slim, yet angular, City-like headlamps. The chunky, all-black front grille beautifully merges with the headlamps – while the bumper gets a bold mesh grille with fog lamps. From the side, it looks identical to the previous model – but now has a deep ridge running across the doors all the way to the tail lamps. The downside is that the car’s solid build makes the 15-inch alloy wheels look puny.
When it comes to practicality, no other car in its segment comes close to the new Jazz. The large and wide doors ensure entering and exiting is convenient. The large glass-house makes the cabin feel airy. The tailgate gets a thick chrome strip running right below the rear windscreen, while the new rear LED lamps look like they’ve been inspired by the Volvo V40 Cross Country – but it suits the Jazz. Another ace in the pack is the spacious boot, which has a loading bay that’s low and wide.
Open the door, and a familiar cabin welcomes you. The layout and design is just like that of the City, which is a step up from the previous Jazz. But we’ve been spoiled by the current leader of this segment – the Hyundai Elite i20 – and in comparison the cabin feels less plush and more functional. The first thing we noticed is that the start-stop button was missing – which is not really a big deal, but the slot is there and retaining it would have been a nice touch.
The interiors come in black and beige for the mid variants, and all-black for the top-end of the range. And you really do have to sit inside the Jazz to be amazed by the sort of cabin space it provides. It’s easily the best in the segment, as four six-feet plus adults can stretch their limbs and sit comfortably. But what makes the Jazz special are its ‘magic’ seats. The rear seats recline, while the front passenger chair reclines all the way to the rear seat – which transforms into a sofa that literally lets you put your feet up. The split rear seats can also be folded individually, or dropped completely to increase the boot space substantially. But unlike the previous Jazz, the ‘magic’ seats aren’t a standard feature and are only available in the top-end variants.
The build quality of the cabin is not bad, but the Jazz uses a fair amount of hard plastics. The black plastic makes it look better than it actually is, but it’s no match for the i20 in terms of material quality and refinement. It borrows the City’s light and easy-to-manoeuvre steering. It’s also equipped with a 6.2-inch touch-screen infotainment system, which also has a navigation system. And I have to admit that the touch response of the screen was impressive. But the display becomes difficult to view when the sun reflects directly on it. Again taking cues from the City, the Jazz too comes with a touch panel A/C control, which is a first in this segment. It also comes with a rear-view camera to end your parking woes. Now we’ve talked a lot about how spacious the cabin is, but what makes it an incredible family car are the numerous storage spaces available – including nine cup holders.
As mentioned earlier, the Jazz is now available in diesel form as well – which will be Honda’s breadwinner. It has an output of 98.6bhp, which is impressive. But, as always with this motor, the clatter can be heard in the cabin. And once you cross the 2,000rpm mark, the coarse engine note gets more-and-more audible. Compared to the City, though, the Jazz has better cabin insulation.
The 1.5-litre is a workhorse of a motor, which is very comfortable in city driving conditions. The transmission has short gear ratios – so it’s always in the power-band. On the highway is where the powerplant is found wanting slightly though, as it feels like it could use more grunt. But with a 6-speed transmission, the Jazz boasts of a claimed fuel economy of 27.3km/l – which is class leading according to Honda. The engine performs best in the mid-range though – initially, it chugs along laboriously before it starts to pick up some speed.
The petrol version is powered by a 1.2-litre motor, and comes with an optional CVT (continuously variable) transmission with paddle shifters. This 89bhp motor is linear, but it takes some very positive inputs from your right foot before it really starts to pick up the pace. The gear lever in the 5-speed manual transmission slots in effortlessly, while the light steering wheel and clutch complement each other making the Jazz a breeze to drive.
The CVT is also fairly responsive, and with the paddle shifters you do get that added feeling of involvement. If pushed, however, it does feel a bit strained – as is the case with all CVTs. The power delivery is seamless and smooth though, as expected from a Honda petrol engine. This variant, too, is an ideal commuter car. The CVT is also 16% lighter than the manual, and as a result the former is more efficient – 19km/l to the latter’s 18.7 km/l. The option of an automatic is also where the Jazz scores over the i20.
The Jazz 2.0 continues to have great cabin space, and offers practical features like numerous cubby holes and cup holders, as well as versatile rear seats. Its ride quality has improved as well. It’s a great commuter in the city, as it comes with fuel efficient engine options. The CVT too will play a crucial role for the Jazz. It’s obvious that Honda wants to keep the price down though, and omissions like rear AC vents will certainly be felt.
All in all, the Jazz still remains a very capable hatchback – and we expect it to be priced very competitively as well. But it’ll have to contend with the highly impressive i20, which is making its presence increasingly felt on Indian roads.
India’s first premium hatch
Six years ago, the Honda Jazz was all set to change the hatchback industry by being as spacious as a sedan and as versatile as an MPV. The idea was great, but Honda wasn’t able to get the pricing right. What they did, however, was open up the market – which has since been captured by the Hyundai i20. The new Jazz retains much of what was right the first time around, but it’ll have to work for it because now the customer demands more than ever before!
- Honda Jazz 1.2 i-VTEC
- Honda Jazz 1.5 i-DTEC
Engine: 1,198cc / 4 Cylinders / SOHC
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual & CVT / Front Wheel Drive
Power: 89bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 110Nm @ 4,800rpm
Engine: 1,498cc / 4 Cylinders / DOHC
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual / Front Wheel Drive
Power: 98.6bhp @ 3,600rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 1,750rpm