A few months ago I published the road test of the Honda Jazz
from our Down-under correspondent John Weinthal. John was enthusiastic about the
Jazz (also known as the Fit in Japan, and there are a couple of these Japanese
imports floating around, though the only obvious difference is just the name
badge on the rear).
After some research I found that the Australian Jazz is not
exactly the same as the Thai Jazz, with different engines being the major
difference. The Australian versions have 1.3 and 1.5 litre VtiS engines, while
the local counterpart has the i-DSI designated 1.5 litre engines. The Aussies
get around 105 BHP from their top engine, while we get 88 BHP from ours
(currently - there is a more powerful one coming, I believe). So it was with
interest that I took a Honda Jazz, complete with the 7 speed CVT (constantly
variable transmission) with sequential manual over-ride, for a two day test.
is a tendency for all testers to look at any test vehicle and give it the
critical analysis from all points of view. Did it go fast? Does it have
acceleration like an FA 18 Tomcat? Does it stick to the road like dog poo to
your sandals? Will it carry 13 golf bags and a baby grand piano? Can you drive
it across the Sahara Desert and will it look good in the executive car park? For
my money this is the wrong way of looking at any car. A Honda Jazz will never
win a Grand Prix, nor will it win the Paris-Dakar rally! And forget the baby
grand. What this vehicle really represents is an inexpensive family shopping
trolley, with the asking price ranging from 542,000 baht up to 679,000 baht for
the fully loaded version with all the bells and whistles. So that is how I
looked at testing this car. Is it a good shopping trolley?
is no getting away from the fact that this funky little car has eye appeal.
Everyone seems to like the chunky ‘verticality’ of it, and its ‘cheeky’
look reminds me, in some silly way, of the response we all had to the first
Morris Mini’s 40 years ago.
It is a true five door, with decent sized openings to even
get farang-sized folk in and out of the front or rear seats easily. For Thais it
is a breeze! The rear hatch is also large and gives good access to the loading
space in the rear, and it lifts high enough up that you are not continually
giving yourself concussion every time you go to the supermarket.
Outside it looks small with its droopy snoot, but inside it
is amazingly roomy. Even three up across the rear is not too squeezy, and the
front chairs are large, adjustable and comfy. You can also get a sensible
seating position for the driver where you are aligned well with the pedals and
the steering wheel is within reach. At the bargain basement prices, don’t
expect seats with electronic memory built in, but the seat position can be
changed manually with little hassle.
So far so good, but very quickly some dislikes became
apparent. First off, the A pillar is enormous. Undoubtedly you can probably
bounce down the road on your lid and be perfectly safe, but I really did find
that too much on-coming traffic could hide behind the very thick pillar. If
nothing else it makes you look twice, I suppose.
The next gripe came from the co-pilot. No vanity mirror! Here
we were in one of the top of the line models and the passenger could not attend
to her lipstick without attacking the driver’s rear view mirror. And yet the
driver’s sun visor had one!
After a few kays in the CVT auto I found another omission. A
driver’s left foot rest. Another small thing, but definitely one for creature
comforts. Remember that this is no stripped race car; this is a family shopping
The compulsory visit to the supermarket showed that the
little Honda Jazz has a good tight turning circle, and it was possible to
wriggle into even the smallest parking spots. Shopping trolley definitely got a
tick there. However, when it came to loading the rear, there is no flat floor
access, but a lip for everything to be lifted over first. A black mark for that
one, but minimal. Otherwise loading was a breeze, and if needed, the split rear
seats could be folded down to increase the load capacity. There are also lots of
small cubby holes in the front to put items such as mobile phones and other
Mention must be made of the simple user-friendly controls.
How sick I am of electronic finger stabbing at some piece of plastic fascia to
get volumes up and down, change ‘modes’ and air-conditioning temperatures
and the like. The Jazz has simple rotary dials that are easier, quicker and less
likely to malfunction. Another tick in the report card for the shopping trolley.
John Weinthal, in his report on the Aussie CVT auto version
Jazz, had felt that the power was marginal and had written “I’d try the
five-speed manual gearbox before buying. The manual gear change would deliver
more useful performance and possibly even better than the auto’s outstanding
fuel economy.” By comparison, my Thai test vehicle also had the 7 speed CVT
auto, and (on paper) smaller horses than the Australian variant. To be honest,
from the shopping trolley point of view, the power was perfectly adequate, and
the auto delightfully smooth. I did have a play with the 7 speed sequential
over-ride and quickly gave it up. Interestingly, so did tester John Weinthal,
who wrote, “The sequential mode is entered by pressing a button on the right
side of the steering wheel. From there on virtually instant and ultra-smooth up
and down changes are made by pressing plus and minus buttons on the left or
right hand side of the steering wheel. It is effective and occasionally it might
be more useful than just novel, although after a few practice plays I rarely
bothered to exercise the sequential function.” Agreed. The fully automatic
mode was much better. In fact I would go so far as to say that I wouldn’t even
contemplate the manual gearbox. In our traffic, why would you want to?
I did give the Jazz a quick blast to Bangkok and it would sit
happily at 130 kph on the motorways and even a quick sprint to 160 clicks was
easy (sorry Mr. Policeman, that’s a misprint, I meant to write 120 kph!).
Brakes and road-holding were fine and the fuel economy was good and the Jazz
drinks the cheaper 91 octane only.
Jazz was the top selling car in Japan last year, and I
believe it is probably now doing the same here. It is a very good shopping
trolley cum family runabout. I could own one, but it would be the auto version,
and in fact Mr. Honda can keep the 7 speed sequential mode and give me back the
difference in price!
As I mentioned at the top, this is no race car, but it was
never designed to be one. In the horses for courses stakes, however, the Honda
Jazz is a definite winner!