NEW JAZZ ROCKS IN: This is the third generation of Honda's small MPV and boy has it changed! High-tech facia run from a smart phone, more cabin space and plenty go. Image: Honda SA
• Eye-catching, sexier styling
• Larger cabin, class-leading space
• Longer wheelbase good handling
• Six air bags - across the range
Honda SA used a couple of hours’ drive through the summer-brown backlands of Cape Town, the West Coast and Paarl to show off its “all new” Jazz at the end of January 2015.
They’re only due in showrooms sometime in February and in fact we journos were driving the only units to have arrived here – each a Jazz 1.5 i-VTEC Dynamic which is available in five-speed manual or with a constantly-variable “auto” transmission which comes with steering-column paddles to switch through seven pre-set CV ratios.
I was driving a manual unit for which you’ll get R100 change from a quarter of a million bucks; the CVT costs R264 900 and for sure some people might question such prices. But consider that you’re getting just about every car “extra” on the planet at this level and remember that prices start at R179 900 for the Jazz 1.2 Trend.
GALLERY: 2015 Honda Jazz Honda Jazz 1.5 Dynamic
The whole range seven models comes, of course, with Honda’s commendable reputation for reliability; they’re also rather more attractive than the outgoing range, as well with more rear legroom and – at least the unit I was driving – come with no switches (rotary or otherwise) because everything from phone through aircon to audio tuning is done on what looks like a vertical iPad.
The screen, like an iPad and similar products, reacts to touch, pinch and swipe movements and use of an HDMI cable will transfer the functionality, including satnav and apps, of an iPhone to the 18cm facia screen
Honda is comfortable with the way the car has changed: “It combines a striking new exterior design with a more compact footprint, yet offering more interior space, enhanced interior appointments and greater overall efficiency.
“This the third-generation Jazz is a significant step up from its highly successful, and hugely popular, predecessor but remains true to its core attributes of value and functionality.”
An all-new monocoque construction, Honda says, is lighter but stronger and more rigid “which in turn allows substantial upgrades of the suspension and steering”. The wheelbase is longer (by 30m) with consequent benefits for ride quality, directional stability and handling.The front structure, Honda explains, was designed “to meet and exceed the most stringent crash safety standards, to enhance passenger protection in a collision”.Honda SA’s Graham Eagle (after all these years he’s pretty much the face of the brand!) said at a media presentation at Gape Town airport ahead off the backlands drive: “The Jazz is our most important model – remember, it was launched in South Africa in 2003 and brought safety features not seen until then, along with the CV transmission.
"It was great for the ‘buy-down’ market (those approaching retirement, for instance) but now the car is more dynamic for younger buyers. However, we believe it will still attract the earlier buyers.”
'COOLER AND MORE EMOTIVE"
Honda’s data claims 72% of buyers have returned over the years for another Honda – “which is way above the market norm. And the fresh appeal will start to attract younger buyers, particularly young mothers, with most customers opting for the mid-range 1.5-litre Elegance models (R222 000-R235 000)”.
“Not only is it the world’s most functional compact,” Eagle promised, “it’s now a lot cooler and emotive.”
A hybrid Jazz is being built (along with South Africa-bound units) in India at modern plants but its introduction here has been delayed indefinitely while demand from Japan is sated.The ‘Magic Seat’ system, described as “a key feature of the Jazz from the word go”, continues to, Honda says “deliver a level of flexibility unique in this segment”. Basically, the rear seats fold, tumble and pack in a wide range of combinations – hence the attraction of the car for young mothers burdened by all the mod cons to meet the demands of a modern youngster.
Compared to its – Honda’s words – “softer, more rounded, predecessor, the new Jazz is linear and assertive with streamlined front end, very raked windscreen and sculpted flanks”. No argument from me: it is a brilliant-looking car, especially with the addition of a slice of a fold down each flank.
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
Two engines are available: a new 1.2-litre four-cylinder and the 1.5 four-cylinder which has been carried over from the previous model, each fuelled efficiently by Honda’s i-VTEC “intelligent variable valve timing”. Front-wheel drive only.
“The arrival of the all-new Honda Jazz is a milestone event for the South African market,” Eagle asserted. “The Jazz already enjoys an enviable reputation for flexibility, safety, efficiency and quality but this third-generation sets new benchmarks.
"The new Jazz excels, delivering an exceptional compact motoring experience that also reflects strong value.” (Prices beneath the image."
NO QUESTION THE HONDA JAZZ IS STILL ABOUT FUN: The body-side creases erase the car's previous blandness, the colours are cool (Wheels24 went straight for this one at the launch) and the cabin finishes and equipment are, what the heck, awesome. Image: Honda SA
The new Honda Jazz range will be in showrooms in February 2015 through Honda Motor Southern Africa’s national dealer network. All models except the entry-level Trend come with a four-year or 60 000km service plan. Service intervals 15 000km.
Honda Jazz 1.2 Trend - R179 900
Honda Jazz 1.2 Comfort - R204 900
Honda Jazz 1.2 Comfort CVT - R221 900
Honda Jazz 1.5 Elegance - R234 900
Honda Jazz 1.5 Elegance CVT - R249 900
Honda Jazz 1.5 Dynamic - R249 900
Honda Jazz 1.5 Dynamic CVT - R264 900