Ruling the hearts of Filipinos for more than a decade, this premium crossover from the fleet of an elite Japanese auto producer has cemented a special place in not only the Philippines market but all over the world. With its third generation currently on offer, the Honda Jazz looks a strong contender ahead of other premium hatchbacks prevailing in the country. Style, comfort, swiftness and safety, all packed inside a piece of metal named Jazz. During its lifetime, it has undergone two major alterations that were definitely for the good. Initially, with the features it offered, Jazz looked an expensive buy, which eventually with time was rectified by the automaker and now it is certainly one of the best hatches available in the market if you want a hatch with luxury, amenities and style. Equipped with a highly efficient i-VTEC engine under the flesh, Jazz takes an upper hand in the fuel economy department too, which is one of the crucial factors before buying a new car. Available in four different variants in the Philippines, all powered by the same 1.5-litre engine, the Jazz has answered the critics in style over time, which made us book an expert drive test with the Honda in order to evaluate the real Jazz. Hence, we pen down our experience here for our readers to know if owning a Jazz is worth or not.
It’s a known fact that Honda has always been particular about styling of its cars and looking at a rally red Honda Jazz VX+ I wasn’t surprised. The Jazz counted another amazing vehicle in the brand’s fleet, which carries a design language that’s generous in every regard. Sharing the platform with its sibling, City, the Jazz adorns a character that isn’t conventional but certainly has that sparkle that outshines through your eyes. The rally red was indeed giving a vibrant look to the Jazz while its optimum cuts and slashes across the car were just right to blow your mind. The evolutionary approach which the Honda designers had followed in its making is certainly worth praising. Despite unconventional design, the designers have managed to grant it a look that’s good in itself. Although, a bit of MPV-like feel is there when you look at its side profile yet it seems pleasing to eyes. But, one thing to mention here is that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea for sure. Talking about its front, it is dominating from the word go and personally I feel it’s better than City’s, which is stuffed with excess chrome. The black thick slat at the front gave it bold appeal while the strong belt line on its side looked ravishing. In addition to the piano black grille, it had contemporary headlamps, large air dam lower down the bumper and black housing for the fog lamps close to the corners. At the side there were body-colored door mounted ORVMs, bold character lines and nicely crafted wheel arches. The wide piece of metal was fitted with quite alloy wheels measuring 16-inch, which looked fine on the commanding profile of Jazz. While on the base variant you’ll find 15-inch wheels that look quite puny.
At the rear, there is no escaping from the chrome treatment as it adhered a thick chrome slat that connects the vertical reflectors. These reflectors reminded me of Volvo while the peculiar tail lamps added to its individual character. However, the base variant was deprived of the chrome treatment at the rear, which personally I feel looks more subtle and settled. As I’m not a great fan of those thick chrome slats. The third generation Jazz has gone way too sportier and edgier vanishing its cute appeal which we used to see in the prior generations.
It was then time to hit the front seat of the Jazz, which is what we did as I pulled the front door handle to enter in. And guess what, I felt pleasant entering in that cabin. It was all-black, which personally took my attention from the word go. Beige interiors are way too sophisticated and being a young driver I like black, thanks to Honda designers designing it the way young would prefer. The futuristic feel that we noticed outside was carried inside the cabin too. However, the noteworthy point while entering through the door was its 90 degree opening with three stages making the entry and exit just perfect.
Similar to its sibling City, there were some notable changes that Honda has done to make it apart from rest of the models in its stable. Starting from the centre console’s trim style on the passenger side to a folding cup holder at the driver’s disposal just under the A/C vent, gauges style to positioning of the power outlets, everything has got a new flavour. Fit and finish inside the cabin was up to the mark and you won’t see any apparent signs of low quality. Although, plastics looked a bit hard but that won’t certainly fall under the category of low quality.
While sitting on that front seat, few things that were at my disposal and clearly felt include, the wide and big windscreen, large windows, optimum under thigh support and supportive seats with adequate cushioning. Honda has a habit of making its customers happy with those thick seats, which we don’t generally see in case of hatchbacks and they have done it pretty well with this model of Jazz too. The fabric used to wrap the seats and upholstery was of premium quality while the support and comfort offered by those seats were just right for a driver as well as passengers. The placement of controls and knobs were just fine making it a user-friendly car. The steering wheel was same as that of City, but without cruise control option and was quite easy to grab. However, it lacks the reach option while just has a rake provision for the driver to adjust. The instrument cluster was also similar to City with big, clear and easy to read dials. This gen Jazz also has the real time fuel efficiency feature similar to what we saw in prior generation.
The funky A/C controls were ditched and now the centre console was easy and clutter-free. Lower down the console was the feather-touch air conditioning system, which was nice and easy to operate once you get you hands on the same. Honda has always been popular for its air conditioning systems and this too didn’t disappoint us.
On the entertainment front, it had an inbuilt audio system with 7 inches screen that looked well-integrated in the dash. The audio system offered the ease of Bluetooth, USB and HDMI connectivity. The touchscreen wasn’t really user-friendly and seemed to be an old-fashioned one due to its deprived off capabilities. It didn’t offer video playback, satellite navigation and even DVD compatibility.Honda could have done more to make it user-centric but they decided opposite to it.
Jazz is popular for its practicality and there were immense storage compartments to justify that statement. Yes, there were certainly ample of them, 9 in total cup/bottle holders. Four of them account for each door, two cup holders under the center console in addition to the space which can easily hold your smartphone of 5-inches if placed flat. Next to the handbrake you have two more storage compartments, one was deep while the other was shallow for your knicks and knacks. Behind the handbrake were the two spaces for accommodating bottles. Glovebox wasn’t really deep but offered a fair space to equip your essentials. The highlight of all was the space just under the driver’s side A/C vent, which helped me to keep my wallet. In addition to these, there was a 359 litre cargo space sufficient to hold baggage for your weekend getaways or trips. This space can be further be increased by folding down the rear seat in 60:40 configuration or completely fold down the seats flat to get a massive 1492 litres of space.
Finally, the segment you as an auto enthusiast would like to read and know how it exactly feels driving the latest Jazz. FYI, Jazz in the Philippines market comes with a 1.5-litre SOHC i-VTEC engine that can churn out a max power of 120 PS at 600 rpm alongside a peak torque of 145 Nm at 4800 rpm. This engine was mingled to a seven speed CVT gearbox, which was a part of the first generation Jazz but as a token of surprise the company took it away from the second generation model for the 5-speed automatic transmission system. It was a bit of surprise that Honda ditched the incredibly efficient CVT but now with its inclusion in the third gen model, Jazz looks on track once again. The 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine allied to a CVT transmission would be an ideal combination you can have if you wish to glide your car through city’s congested roads. The engine is refined, smooth and responsive at the same time and you won’t feel anything fishy while driving the new Jazz especially in city. Smooth acceleration, incredible fuel economy and relaxed drive, that’s what you can expect from this groovy hatch. However, the only concern which haunted me while driving it was the frontal visibility around the corner. The fat A-pillars and glass design made it difficult to view the traffic ahead creating several blind spots while the IRVM did its best in indicating the rear traffic but due to thick rear pillars the visibility was hindered to a great extent. You need to be cautious while reversing this hatch into a parking slot.
The Jazz has been fitted with a reliable and tweaked suspension, which aids in improved ride quality extensively. The ‘thuds’ sound through the holes or crashing into potholes is past for the Jazz. You won’t feel unpleasant while driving over the bumps or the potholes as the stiff ride quality has been managed brilliantly by the brand. No more jerks or the fear of holding up in the holes, Jazz has everything covered now and it won’t sag like earlier anymore. We moved it through the corners at a certain pace in the city, around the roundabouts hoping that it won’t disappoint us and yes the result was satisfactory, there wasn’t any body roll issue. It looked stable, in control and gripped to the surface at all instants.
At high speeds, the ride quality was competent like never before. It wasn’t nervous on expressways and was easily rolling through the plain stretch of roads confidently. Even at 120 Kmph, the car looked in shape. Although, comparing it with the VWs and Fords would ask for more from the Japanese brand as it still lacks the solidity offered by these brands on high speed roads. Most of the time, handling was clinical. The steering wheel was easy to grab and was apt for city driving but on high speeds its performance looked a bit wavered. It is optimally calibrated steering wheel and isn’t a hydraulic system. Perfect for city but lacks the rigidity over expressways.
Shoes on which Jazz ran were acceptable and the sense of holding the surface was always there. But the drum brakes at rear shattered our spirits. At least for the top end variant VX+, it should come with four discs. However, the company covered the controllability part by blessing it with features like Hill Start Assist, Emergency Stop Signal, Stability Control in addition to the standard safety features like Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD).
Honda has developed a car that dominates the market on certain points namely, premium quality, style, sportiness, practicality and fuel efficiency. With a myriad of features, stylish structure and supreme interiors, it can certainly be on your cards if price isn’t an issue for you. It nearly touches the 7-digit price mark for the top-end variant, which makes it overpriced compared to the competitors prevailing in the market. If you are looking for exceptional quality packed inside a piece of metal with structure that can easily maneuver through city streets, then go for Jazz without any second thought.