It’s one of Honda’s most popular models, sold in 123 countries and as of September 2013, a staggering 4.87million units have been sold worldwide. It’s called the Fit, but we know it as the Jazz. Introduced in 2001, it’s built in eight countries (including Japan) and speaking of which, there are over 2million of them running around Japan alone.
It was an instant success story over here too, and with good reason. It’s hard to not like the ‘jazzy’ little Jazz. Cute looks aside, it was able to fill a very important niche market here, the ‘what do I buy next after my Saga’ niche. yes, I just made that up, but seriously, the Jazz is the kind of car that first-time car buyers would love to have but can’t afford, and the one that second car buyers aspire to get.
It’s also the perfect second family car, for despite its diminutive looks, the Jazz is actually remarkably spacious on the inside. It’s the perfect car for soccer-moms and small families, as well as the up-and-coming executive that needs a trusty and reliable runabout, and while it’s stable-mate the CRV has dibs on that term, the little Jazz can really hold its own when the chips are down.
AF recently had the opportunity to have a quick drive of the new Jazz, slated to make its way here early next year, and if first impressions are crucial, I’m happy to note that Honda have yet another winner on their hands.
The first thing that really jumps out at you about the new Jazz is just how sporty it looks now. Despite having a ‘green’ hybrid version, it’s clear that Honda really injected a helluva lot more sportiness in the overall design element. It’s still a compact, but I’d venture to say it looks more like a sporty hot-hatch now, something you’d not be ashamed to park next to a Golf GTi. No, I’m not on medication.
In terms of interior, Honda has done yet another excellent job with this 3rd generation Jazz. While there’s a bit of a minimalist approach in terms of kit, there’s a lot that other car companies can learn from the intangibles like tactile feel, even for a car that’s about as far from the upper-luxury class that one can get. Ergonomically, the new Jazz is spot-on brilliant. Its aforementioned diminutive exterior aside, it’s astonishing just how much space there is in the car.
The engineers have further refined the car’s unique ‘centre fuel-tank’ layout, while utilizing an all-new platform that is both more rigid than its predecessor, as well as lighter too. So in addition to maximizing interior space, the overall lighter Jazz also contributes to some very impressive fuel consumption figures, especially for the DOHC iVTEC 1.3L CVT version (there’s also a Hybrid and a 1.5L CVT version) which returns a claimed 26km/L, a figure that actually rivals some of Honda’s own previous generation Hybrids.
Speaking of Hybrids, the new Sport Hybrid Jazz is particularly impressive. First off, the engine is mated to a 7-speed i-DCD or Intelligent Dual-Clutch Drive (transmission) w/paddle shifters, and its job is to channel combined power from both the 1500cc engine and powerful electric motor to the front wheels.
Churning out close to 137bhp of combined output, this ‘hybrid’ still manages to return an astounding combined fuel-consumption figure of 36.4km/L, the highest in Japan for a hybrid vehicle. Stats and consumption figures aside, it was the actual drive that made me want to sign the dotted line straight away.
It’s really quite remarkable just how well put together the new Jazz is. Its ergonomics are faultless for a small car, and bear in mind, at 190cm in height (let’s not discuss width) I am really not a big fan of small cars that make me feel claustrophobic. No such sensations in the Jazz thankfully; as mentioned its exterior size totally belies the abundance of space inside.
Beyond that, it’s the intangible that comes to play. The new Jazz feels reassuring to drive, it feels solid, stable and secure, something I’d never imagined I’d hear myself say about a small compact car. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but somehow the designers and engineers at Honda have taken the reassurance and security of a big sedan and shoehorned it into the Jazz.
It’s lighter than its predecessor, but the thus tuned suspension makes it feel stable and comfortable at the same time. It’s also a lot quicker off the mark thanks to the lesser mass. NVH is also something of a bane for small cars, there’s only so much room to add insulation and sound-deadening materials, but again, somehow the Honda engineers have found a way to cram in more. Cabin insulation is simply superb for a car in this category.
Hot on the heels of the new Odyssey (launched at KLIMS last month) the new Jazz is due to hit our shores as early as the first quarter of 2014 (it was officially launched in Japan in September), and it’s going to make some serious waves in the compact car segment. It’s the one to watch out for. Well done Honda!