New Honda Jazz taken for a spin

By CARSIFU | 3 July 2014
The Honda Jazz was originally introduced as an affordable alternative to compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) motoring, serving perhaps as the stepping stone to the larger Stream.

As it was initially brought here as an imported model it was priced at RM100,000 so the affordable part was not obvious.

When Honda Malaysia included the Jazz, which is promoted as the Fit in Japan, on the local assembly line with the extension of the plant in Ayer Keroh, the affordable part was finally realised.


That saw more than 3,500 units of the Jazz being sold here last year since the CKD (complete knock down) model was made available.

This year, a similar number of units had already been sold by May, paving the way for the launch of the third-generation model which was introduced in Thailand more than a month ago.

For a preview of the latest Jazz, we were naturally brought to Thailand, Hua Hin in particular, to experience the car which is made in that country.


While Thai Honda customers get to choose from six variants, the Malaysian buyer would have half that number to consider - these will range from a basic model to a high-spec Jazz.

The Hua Hin drive was done in the three variants with equipment and fittings that would be similar to the Jazz range to be introduced in Malaysia.

The basic body profile of the Jazz has evolved over the two previous generations and the recent styling is just about the best yet.


We like the aggressive sweep of its waist line, that looks like a bolt of lightning from the rear to the front, and it complements the aerodynamic flow of the Jazz’s roofline.

The front may bear some similarity to the new City, which is not bad as the boldness in the nose design and the sporty touches and design of the lower bib.

It gives the new Jazz a brash and youthful stance that sums up its visually dynamic appeal.


The rear is quite well done with reflectors on the hatch door blending nicely with the light clusters and lower ‘islands’ in the bumper section to sort of balance the front visage.

The roof spoiler varies from a slight bib for the basic and mid-range variant to a decidedly more aggressive unit that fans out in the top range version.

The engine powering the new Jazz model is the same as that in the latest City, this being the 1.5-litre SOHC (single overhead camshaft) i-VTEC unit and the Jazz engine output is rated at 120PS and 145Nm, virtually identical.


Channelling the engine power to the front wheels is an advanced CVT (continuously variable transmission) that Honda has developed under its Earth Dreams Technology to achieve the “perfect” combination of power and fuel economy.

The gearshift is similar too, with an ‘S’ for sporty mode and an ‘L’ for low gear that should serve its function best when going downhill.

When ‘S’ mode is selected (the engagement is sequential in that the gearshift moves in a straight line up and down), the CVT is electronically controlled at a certain ‘ratio’ that has the engine speed above 3,000rpm.


This is the point at which a lot of torque is developed by the engine and response to accelerator pedal pressure is more immediate, providing a quicker uptake of road speed to pass or drive through winding roads.

We certainly enjoyed this experience during the Hua Hin drive, feeling the readiness of the engine to provide that ‘oomph’ to pass when opportunities came along.

The new Jazz cruised easily up to 140kph with the engine running quite lazily at about 2,200rpm in seventh “gear,” which is electronically set.

As we were accelerating, we could hold the accelerator constant to have the engine turning at 4,500rpm and yet had the Jazz continuing to pick up speed: it was an interesting combination of engine and transmission operation.


At 140kph or thereabouts, wind noise was largely subdued, although wind rustle from the A-pillars and door mirrors was noticeable from the front seat while some rustle from the roof section and road roar was heard when seated at the rear, but we could carry a conversation without having to raise our voices.

The aerodynamic improvements to the sweeping body profile appeared to have made the wind turbulence being noticed.

The intrusion of road roar at the rear probably had to do with the paring down of padding and the hatch door panel as a cost factor to make the new Jazz attractively priced.

The level of roar varied according to the tarmac surfaces and was not intrusive to the point of affecting comfort: it was similar in the area of wind turbulence.

Being Thai models, the Jazz variants that we drove were running on Bridgestone Turanza tyres (the local option available in that country).

We did not get to feel its dynamic qualities through winding stretches apart from a loop and a few fast sweepers but we believed the new Jazz should be as good as, if not better than, the previous model in handling.

When going over bumps, the rear provided a harder ride than the front and the driver had to make a conscientious move to ride speed bumps slowly to avoid jolting the rear folks.

The MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension gave us a comfortable ride on the highways that comprised mainly our drive route.

We also found the interior spacious enough for four and the rear seats can be folded to extend luggage space.

There appears to be no provision for a retractable or foldable top cover for the rear luggage area, which again may be another cost-cutting factor.

Nevertheless, the new third-generation Jazz impressed in retaining the fun driving factor, which should appeal to the younger set who wants a compact MPV as a lifestyle statement.

The new Jazz will be launched in Malaysia in the middle of this month.