Friday, March 30, 2018

Bucket Seat: Honda Jazz

When car manufacturers take a current model that they have on the market and slap the word "Sport" to the end of it, it more often than not means that they put some bigger rims, added some sporty cosmetic changes to the body, maybe some racing stripes, brushed aluminium and fake carbon fiber bits but the engine remained the same, so what is the point then? Instead of "Sport" they should say "looks sporty". Now with disappointments like this on the market, you can only understand the excitement when I learned that the Honda Jazz Sport I was getting on test actually had it's engine tweaked and to top it off, it also had bigger rims and sporty looks, with fake carbon fiber bits! I know it sounds like I'm being sarcastic but I'm genuinely not, you see while I like driving big cars, these small hatchbacks with tight turning circles and punchy engines are quite fun to drive, hence my tie with the Jazz Sport was very much cherished.


The Honda Jazz Sport was launched concurrently with its bigger brother, the Civic Type-R, while the difference between the two performance hatchbacks is vast, the Jazz Sport does have its own array of talents that still make it a charm. The car itself is still a basically a Honda Jazz, while it is considered a hatch, the shape makes it look like a mini MPV, but credit to the Honda design team who really did a great job on taking a car that looks like a typical soccer moms car and making it look aggressive. From the blacked  out 16" multi-spoke rims, the lowered front end splitter with fogs, LED front head lamps, to the sporty rear diffuser and wing, this car seriously looks the business and with the read I had it in, gave it that devilish appeal. Even on the inside it looked great! It came with aluminium racing pedals, racing style seats, carbon fiber themed dash with red outlines and paddle shifts for the CVT automatic gearbox. Overall the car certainly looks the part, befitting of the sport badge and name.


The Jazz Sport effectively is replacing the "Dynamic" derivative from the line up, with it using the same 1.5L engine from the Elegance, but while that model's engine only produces 88kW and 145Nm of torque, the Sport's engine has been tuned up to spit out 97kW and 155Nm of torque. Trust me, while these numbers may seem small, it certainly adds a lot of punch to a car of this size. Honda really have something special with this i-VTEC DOHC, 16V engine which they dub "Earth Dreams Technology", since the power it delivers, is also very light on fuel and great for the environment with the g/km CO2 emissions being 133. The only downside to the car is the gearbox, the 7 speed CVT automatic gearbox may help in achieving that low fuel economy but it holds back so much potential. One can't help feel how much better this car would have been in a 6 speed stick shift, in fact when driving this car, one itches for it. I tried the paddle shifts out in sport gear but still, it just suppresses that engine. 


Don't be fooled by its size, the Jazz Sport is super comfortable, for both the drive and his occupants. It all comes down to the compact size of the engine which increases cabin space, as well as the efficient rear suspension layout which doesn't require large wheel wells which normally compromises space for the rear seats. The Magic seats as Honda called them is an innovative seat mechanism which can be configured in a number of ways to accommodate a variety of tall and long objects. Rear seats split in 60/40 offering both seating and extended cargo space. The boot size is 359 litres with the rear seats up and a whopping 889 litres with the seats down. The car comes with climate control air-conditioning with a dedicated control panel for ease of use. The cars interior styling takes a lot of its design from the Type R and it's evident in its sporty look.


The large 7" touch screen infotainment screen is easy to use and controls the radio, bluetooth phone controls, and auxiliary inputs which range from iPod/USB to HDMI. The car sound system comes with 6 speakers and is not that shabby. The multifunction steering wheel is also well equipped and gives most of the controls at the drivers finger tips so he isn't easily distracted while driving. The car also comes with PDC's and rear reverse camera which displays on the 7" touch screen display. All windows are electronically controlled and the car has folding side mirrors. The car also benefits from Honda's smart keyless system with a push start button that glows red.


I really liked this car, and my time spent with it was heaps of fun. The price is a bit to stomach though, granted car prices are high all round, one has to look at the pedigree from the brand to justify the price. And Honda is a name that has not only been around for so long but one that has proven to be reliable, safe and holds a good resale value. This Sport version is a charmer of note though, while the gearbox may disappoint the purist, for many the auto gearbox would be  perfect option for their use. It really is an energy pack small hatch, I won't go as far as calling it a hot hatch because that may upset a few folk but it certainly delivers both on styling, comfort and excitement. 


 1.5 liter, i-VTEC 16V
 Gear Box
 7 Speed CVT gearbox with paddle shift
 Top Speed
 5.6 L/100km

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