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Honda Jazz CVT

2003-11-24 07:42

John Oxley

And after driving it at the power-sapping Reef - with three big 'okes on board - we can tell you it's a real goer that offers amazing performance despite its 1 339 cm3 capacity.

The new models is dubbed Jazz 1.4i-DSI, and Honda has put its own unique spin on the CVT concept - which has been around for decades - by positioning the clutch between the gearbox and transmission rather than between the engine and transmission, as on other cars which use this belt-drive system.

The net result is that there is much smoother takeoff than found in other CVT 'boxes (a notable example being Audi's Multitronic), and none of the hesitation we have previously encountered.

The new auto Jazz joins the 5-speed manual version which is a finalist in the 2004 SA Guild of Motoring Journalists' Car of the Year competition.

Continuously Variable Transmission is smaller and lighter than traditional automatic transmissions, and it works differently too.

Instead of moving in a series of gear changes as the car's speed increases and decreases, the CVT moves through its paces in one exceptionally smooth and stepless motion.

Effective ratios

By using belts between the two pulleys - their flanges can be brought closer together or further apart - the diameter at which the belts engage with the pulleys varies continuously. This changes the effective gear ratio.

CVT allows the selection of an infinite number of gear ratios within a certain range. This means that the engine works more efficiently, because it stays in the optimum rev range for a particular driving situation.

The obvious benefits are outstanding fuel efficiency, coupled with the comfort and simplicity of driving an automatic.

But there's more to the CVT in the Honda Jazz than meets the eye. Depending on your mood, you can choose between "D" (Drive) and "S" (Sporty) mode. "D" is for general driving around town whereas "S" gives you the rapid acceleration you want when required.

And if you want to take even more control while driving the Jazz CVT, simply press the "7- Speed mode" switch on the steering wheel and activate the manual mode.

Changing up and down is easy and effortless too. The "+" button on the steering wheel shifts up through the ratios, whereas the "-" button brings it down again. To return to the "normal" CVT is only a matter of pressing the "7-speed mode" lever again.

Under the Jazz CVT bonnet is Honda's four-cylinder unit i-DSI engine, originally developed for the Insight hybrid car.

Intelligent Dual Spark Plug Sequential Ignition, or i-DSI, was designed to ensure outstanding fuel consumption and the cleanest possible exhaust gas.

Power and torque figures are 61 kW and 119 Nm, while the Jazz achieves around 5.8 litres/100 km consumption in the city cycle.

Peak torque

The peak torque of 119 Nm arrives at 2 800 r/min, but 110 Nm is already available at half that engine speed.

Another energy saving measure is EPS or electric power steering for the rack and pinion, which means it only draws power when the steering is actually being used. The turning circle is only 9.4 metres.

More technical highlights include anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist (EBA) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD).

The Jazz's main point is its impressive cabin space and the flexibility it provides. To achieve this Honda raised the floor under the front seats to provide room for the petrol tank.

This freed up extra vertical space at the rear of the car. The result is class-leading rear passenger room and 323 litres of luggage space which can be increased to 1 323 litres with the rear seats folded down.

Front suspension is by MacPherson struts, while at the back there's a torsion beam axle with very compact coil springs which also saves space to increase cabin room at the rear.

Another clever feature is the doors, which open in three stages. In the first stage there's a 500mm aperture for confined areas, while at its maximum opening there's a 970 mm aperture for effortless entry and exit.

There's plenty in the way of comfort and convenience features too, and storage spaces include cup holders, under-fascia shelves, the usual glovebox, and door pockets.

Interior materials used are of good quality, although perhaps not on par with some of the latest European rivals.

Standard features include power steering, dual airbags, central locking, front-loading CD player, electrically adjustable side mirrors and power windows.

The impressive stereo is integrated in the centre console, which also features the easy-to-use air ventilation controls. The speedo, rev counter and fuel gauge are in three huge dials in front of the driver.

  • The Jazz CVT costs R136 000.

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