When the Honda Jazz was first introduced within South African borders during 2003, it had already outsold the very popular Toyota Corolla across international waters back in 2001, making it easy to boast its popularity with foreign markets and stroll straight into the hearts of the South African population.
The all-new, third generation model is no different and, with a few positive changes here and there, Honda has adapted a very welcomed sporty look to the Jazz.
This time around, although still unmistakably Honda, they’ve done away with the familiar rounded shape and have instead recreated a vehicle that really does make you look twice. It’s far more aggressive, angles are sharper and there is just an overall athletic feel about the shape, which will no doubt appeal to a younger-than-usual crowd, too.
But looks aren’t the only improvement on what was once considered a sensible family car.
A tapered roofline and pronounced wheel arches, slightly longer wheel base and a rather clever layout all add a lot to the comfort and drivability of the Jazz, giving the impression of higher levels of sportiness and versatility.
Honda has been determined to hold on to its ever popular Magic Seat System ever since the first generation and along with that, they have also improved on rear legroom in an attempt to add to what was an already comfortable interior.
The feel of true Honda can be felt throughout the vehicle, meaning that Honda have always strived to ensure full comfort, convenience and usability of the dashboard and its functions for its occupants.
Honda has always kept comfort at the forefront of their vehicle design, but safety is also at the top of the priority list; the new construction incorporates Honda’s latest generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering front body structure, which has been designed to meet the most stringent crash safety standards, and by thinking of the vehicle as a whole, and not just the sum of its parts, it made sense to adopt a monocoque structure which, in turn, creates an equal ratio between higher rigidity of the vehicle and reduced weight overall.
And all this, coupled with a longer wheel base which increases ride quality and better handling, both comfort and safety work happily hand-in-hand within the Jazz.
You’re never stuck without a little bit of ‘umph’; whether you pick the highly efficient 1.2 liter, four-cylinder engine, or 1.5 liter four-cylinder model, as both options are kitted with Honda’s i-VTEC intelligent VVT system, offering that readily available trademark Honda performance.
Of course, you’re not likely to find yourself picking up any red light to red light sprint challenges on the roads, but the system works well and efficiently when overtaking is required, which is more than enough.
With either of the transmission options; the five speed manual, or the CVT alternative, both naturally front-wheel drive, the new Jazz offers South Africans seven models across two engines, two transmissions and four specification level choices.
* The 1.2 Trend in a manual gearbox is your most affordable option. Even though it is the entry level option, it still comes standard with colour-coded bumpers, electrically-adjustable mirrors, air-conditioning, remote central locking and a full-size spare wheel. It also boasts Honda’s famous Magic Seat system, which allows the rear seats to be tipped up vertically to create a generous loading area. Other features include integrated alarm/immobiliser system and an MP3/WMA-compatible audio system with AUX and USB inputs.
* One step up from that is the Jazz 1.2 Comfort, which comes with a choice of manual or CVT transmission, depending on personal choice. A funky little feature within the CVT option is that it can be operated in fully automatic mode, or in manual override mode using the shift paddles on the steering column. Externally the Comfort has fully colour-coded bumpers, door handles and mirrors and also swaps the Trend’s 15-inch steel wheels for alloy ones. The integrated audio system is fitted with two front and two rear speakers, while audio controls are situated on the multifunction steering wheel. Cruise control and Hill Start Assist are standard features of the 1.2 Comfort CVT.
Moving up on the list, the various 1.5 litre engine options offer a choice of four Jazz derivatives; * The Jazz 1.5 Elegance can be ordered with either manual or CVT transmission and both options are fitted with a 5 inch digital display and an intuitive interface that integrates the audio system, Bluetooth telephony, trip computer and more. Leather trim steering wheel and gearshift knob add some luxury, along with fully automatic climate control and cruise control.
Exterior features, such as front fog lamps and automatically retractable mirrors with integrated indicator repeaters offer just that little extra.
* The range-topping 1.5 Dynamic offers the same two transmission choices, but is fitted with 16 inch alloy wheels, a 7 inch touchscreen display featuring HDMI input and app-inspired display, climate control and cruise control.
We are very confident that, while the choices between models may seem a little daunting to first-time buyers, looking at this as a positive with a range of options is a plus.
Honda never disappoints and the new Honda Jazz just proves as clear evidence that their reputation still runs strongly after 15 years on the market.
Honda Jazz Trend (R185 300) – Honda Jazz Comfort (R211 000) – Honda Jazz Elegance (R241 900) – Honda Jazz Dynamic (R257 300)