July 30, 2014
What’s Hot: Sharp new design (inside and out), versatile 'magic seat' interior.
What’s Not: No fully-integrated sat-nav, front seat travel lacking.
X-FACTOR: Fresh and breezy, with more than a dash of youthful appeal, Honda’s Jazz is now even better.
Vehicle Style: 5-door light hatchback
Price: $14,990 ($16,990 drive-away for VTi manual) to $22,490 (VTi-L)
Engine/trans: 88kW/145Nm 1.5 petrol 4cyl | 5sp man or CVT auto
claimed: 6.2 l/100km (manual), 5.8 l/100km (automatic)
tested: 6.8 l/100km (automatic)
The Jazz is back, with a sharp new design, more space, reduced weight and improved efficiency, and a modern features list designed to appeal to tech-savvy younger buyers.
And that’s precisely the plan, with Honda chasing a demographic skewed to twenty- and thirty-something women, rather than the middle-aged downsizers who have been the Jazz’s traditional buyer.
Our first taste showed it to be just as easy to drive as its predecessor, but with a fresher, more contemporary cabin.
Features like Honda’s nifty 'magic seats' have been retained, giving the Jazz an impressive cargo-carrying capability.
Will they dig it, those younger buyers? Maybe, maybe not, but regardless of your age we reckon the breezy new Jazz is definitely worthy of your attention.
- VTi: Reversing camera, Bluetooth phone and audio integration, 4-speaker audio, 7-inch colour touchscreen, cruise control, manual air conditioning, LED headlamps, power windows and mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels, Magic Seats
- VTi-S: 16-inch alloys, power folding wing mirrors, foglamps, climate control, six-speaker audio, leather steering wheel and shift lever.
- VTi-L: Leather upholstery, heated front seats, reverse parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, rear centre armrest
- Luggage capacity: 350 litres with rear seats up, 906 litres with rear seats down.
Seat cushioning is firm, and the front seats could use a few centimetres more rearward travel.
Subtle re-positioning of interior hardpoints means there's more headroom, shoulder room, legroom and a bit more space between passengers.
In its default five-seat configuration, there's space aplenty for two adult passengers in the back, and legroom is especially generous.
Backseaters enjoy an extra 115mm of legroom when compared with the previous Jazz, and 20mm more shoulder room (35mm more shoulder room for the front seats).
The back rest also adjusts for recline, a rarity in the segment.
Then there are the Jazz’s magic seats. They fold flat with the boot floor, or alternatively you can flip the squabs up to carry tall items behind the front seats.
Fancy turning your car into a recliner? Lay the front seats flat and sit on the rear seat, legs outstretched. Fold the front passenger seat down, and you can stow a surfboard or two.
Other handy features include having three cupholders for the front passengers, a bottle holder in each door and, on the VTi-S and VTi-L, a large centre console box that contains a 12V and USB outlet and can accommodate a full-size iPad.
The seats-up luggage capacity of 350 litres is also a strong selling point for the new Jazz, as it rivals the cargo volume of hatchbacks in the next largest size class.
But as well thought-out and commodious as it is, there are a few aspects to the Jazz's cabin that don't make total sense.
One is the A-pillar, which, despite having an auxilliary quarter window is still too thick and can obscure vision through corners.
Another is the absence of soft surfacing on the door armrests, even on the top-grade VTi-L. The centre console box gets a fabric or leather-covered lid that acts as an armrest, so why do the doors miss out?
And if you're spending big on the VTi-L, you may be miffed to discover that a fully-integrated sat-nav system isn't offered.
Honda's Display Audio system is capable of interfacing with a navigation app, but it's reliant on the driver owning an iPhone 5, paying $49.95 for the nav app and also having said phone plugged in via not one, but two cables at all times.
Not exactly the most convenient system, but at least it means even the base model can have a sat-nav capability if the above conditions are met.
But in a segment where most drivers opt to use a portable navigation device, that's not necessarily a handicap, and as far as appealing to the target demographic's preference for space, versatility, equipment and style, the new Jazz scores highly.
ON THE ROAD
- 88kW/145Nm 1.5 litre petrol inline four
- 5 speed manual or CVT automatic with paddle shifters and 7 pre-set ‘gears’
- Front wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension. Revised suspension settings for 2014.
- 15-inch steel wheels and 175-section tyres on VTi, 16-inch alloys and 185-section tyres on VTi-S and VTi-L.
Confined to urban and semi-rural areas on the launch drive, we only had the opportunity to drive CVT-equipped versions of the VTi and VTi-L.
The 1.5 litre petrol - a development of the outgoing Jazz’s motor - puts out a modest 88kW and 145Nm, but thanks to the CVT transmission it doesn't feel too slow.
The gearbox also behaves a little differently to other CVTs, going through defined 'stepped' gears like a conventional automatic when the accelerator is floored, but smoothly changing its ratios like a regular CVT under light throttle inputs.
It's a good gearbox and has the efficiency bonus of having a 19 percent wider ratio range than the outgoing five-speed auto, but we were disappointed that we weren't able to sample the base model manual.
As for fuel economy, we saw an average of 6.8 l/100km after a day of driving - 1.0 l/100km higher than Honda's claim for the CVT-equipped Jazz.
Ride comfort is good, with the skinnier tread and taller sidewalls of the base VTi being marginally more supple over rough roads. It can feel a little firm over sharp road imperfections, but it's no deal-breaker.
Suspension settings have been changed, with increased caster angle up front and a thicker swaybar, as well as lightened components (all up, the new Jazz is roughly 25kg lighter than before).
The roads we drove around the Gold Coast presented few dynamic challenges, however the Jazz turns in crisply.
There's plenty of body roll, but we'll have to save a more in-depth dynamic analysis for a longer loan.
ANCAP rating: The 2014 Honda Jazz has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, emergency stop lighting, hill start assist and six airbags are standard across the 2014 Jazz range.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The light hatch segment is ultra-competitive, and the segment leaders sell in high volumes. That said, the Jazz’s spacious cabin, load-carrying capability and sharp entry-level certainly give it an advantage over its less space-efficient and more expensive competitors
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Jazz has been a consistent high seller for Honda Australia (though supply has constrained sales this year), and the all-new model looks set to continue this trend.
The lack of proper sat-nav on the range-topping VTi-L is a disappointment, but the Jazz shines brightly enough in other areas to compensate.
Indeed, with parking sensors, climate control, cruise control, a reversing camera, leather, heated seats and other goodies as standard, the VTi-L is still reasonably good buying.
But it's the lower end of the range that will provide the bulk of sales volume, with the Jazz VTi expected to account for around half of all Jazz sales - the majority of them being for the automatic variant.
And even though it’s the entry point, the VTi still impresses.
The interior is modern and highly functional and you still get the Display Audio touchscreen interface, along with cruise control, Bluetooth, a reversing camera, LED headlamps, a HDMI input and two USB inputs.
If you’re okay with rowing through a five-speed manual, you can get the above for $16,990 on the road - that’s less than the most affordable Hyundai i20 five-door’s retail price, and certainly competitive with other top sellers like the Toyota Yaris and Mazda2.
We’re looking forward to spending more time behind the new Jazz’s wheel, so stay tuned for a more in-depth review.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- VTi manual - $14,990
- VTi CVT - $16,990
- VTi-S CVT - $19,790
- VTi-L CVT - $22,490
MORE: 2014 Honda Jazz Revealed