September 09, 2014 @ 04:52 PM

Preview: Next-gen Honda Jazz tested Thailand

It is said that the first impression are the most important one because it lasts for a long time. If that is the case, then the Jazz made a good one.

Words: Chris Ng
Photography: Chris Ng and Honda

It is said that the first impression are the most important one because it lasts for a long time. If that is the case, then the Jazz made a good one.
About 200 kilometres south of Bangkok lies a delightfully pleasant beach resort town called Hua Hin. Unlike most other beach resorts in Thailand, like Pattaya or Phuket for example, sleaze is almost absent here. I say almost because one might find the place if one looks for it hard enough; but let’s not go there.
There’s really not much going on here so the atmosphere is one of idyll relaxation; your typical beach town. Still, there are places where tourists can flock to, some more oddly-themed than the other. There’s one that’s dedicated to sheep while another bears the architecture of the Mediterranean – all hawking wares made in Thailand. Oh, and let’s not forget the two large Premium Outlet that avid shoppers would think they are in shopping-heaven.
And if you’re asking, no, I’m not shopping. However, I can imagine that the car that I am in – the third generation Jazz – will spend a huge chunk of its life around the city and car parks of shopping malls. The small dimensions of this hatchback have already bestowed onto the Jazz talent of flexible maneuverability and squeezability in tight places. 
That said; I am nowhere near the city. Instead, I am stopped just off the right-most lane (read: the fast lane) and I’m trying to make a U-turn. It is a simple enough maneuver except that I can’t decide if I should merge with the opposing traffic on the right, middle or left lane. Does the Jazz have the power for me to get up to speed quick enough for the fast lane? Or should I err on the side of caution and pick the left? The person who designed this six-lane highway was either very drunk or wanted to test the resolve of the human spirit.
Using the Honda City as a yardstick – both cars share the 1.5-litre iVTEC engine – then the 10.8 seconds I need to get to 100kph isn’t quick enough to safely put me on the right lane. The many very-rapid large lorries and gargantuan tour busses that ply the highway make the merging even less safe. Imagine yourself trying to make a U-turn on the Federal Highway and you’ll step right into my shoes.
A slight break in traffic and opportunity opens a window. The smart choice would be for me to get on to the left lane; I take it. At an instant, the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?” popped into my head. No time to do an introspective and search for an answer, it is a beach town so plenty of time to meditate later.
Right now, I can only rely on the engine’s punchy low revs and the smooth CVT transmission to help me clear traffic. Made it with at least two seconds to spare, yet blaring honks from possibly angry drivers pass me by. Oh yeah? You have an equally nice day too, buddy.
As illogically dangerous as it may seem, it is a traffic system that somehow works. I count my blessing for not starting (or continuing) the statistic. Alright, back to the Jazz.
Merging back to the highway is a task that’s easily accomplished. The little hatch picks up speed with relative ease and quickly settles into a swift, gentle cruise. It’s quiet too, wind noises are nicely kept outside, although the tyre and road noise have somehow found their way inside. Still, it isn’t too much of a bother because a good conversation or good music will make you forget the noise. Does anyone still drive alone without the stereo turned on?
The ride is comfortable enough. That said, Thai’s tarmac is better maintained than what you would get in Malaysia. Still, nothing is perfect; there are patches of rough undulations that catch the suspension napping, more so in the back than in the front. While the driver might feel that the spring and dampers have plenty of travel, it is the rear passengers that have to content with the firm suspension, absorbing some of the road in their behinds.
Alas, all of the drive is done on the very long and very straight highways. Where have all the yawning curves and the tight bends have gone? Pity.
That the Jazz does feel like a shortened City comes as no surprise. After all, it is the Honda City that is based off the Jazz that you see here. The ample legroom and the comfortable shoulder space are all too familiar, with the exception of the Jazz offering more head room. Combine that with the Ultra Seats, which allows the bench to fold up, it is possible for a three-footer to stand inside without needing to hunch.
Some measurements for you to digest: the Jazz is 3,955mm long, 1,694mm wide and 1,524mm tall. This makes the Jazz 460mm shorter from nose to tail; evident with the lack of a boot. And this hatch is 1mm slimmer while being 54mm taller when compared to its sedan sibling. And if you must know, the third generation Jazz measures about the same as the second-generation Jazz; the new one only 55mm longer.
Overall, this new Jazz seems to have shed its cutesy looks of the previous generation. The new one looks to have matured. Chiseled flanks and wrap-around lights injects a sporty vibe into the metal, even without wearing the body kit. 
While the exterior forges its own design path, the interior mirrors all you can find in the City, with a few exceptions. The Jazz you see here is specced for the Thai market; ours will be slightly different. 
What can be confirmed is that the Malaysian-specced Jazz will not come with paddle shifters – when was the last time you used it with a CVT, eh? The top-spec Jazz V will be offered with a seven-inch display audio, touch panel air conditioning, smart entry with push start button, six airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist and ABS; to name a few. The other two will be the mid-spec Jazz E and the base-spec Jazz S, which deletes some of the items that comes in the V. 
The one thing left on everyone’s mind is just how much this hatchback will cost. The lowest Honda Malaysia has ever priced the Jazz is at RM74,813.50 (OTR with insurance) and sources say that the third-generation Honda Jazz will not stray too far. If that is the case, then the new Jazz will be playing all the right kind of music.

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On Sale
To be confirm
1,497cc, PGM-F1 (Programmed Fuel Injection), i-VTEC, inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves, 118bhp@6600rpm, 145Nm@4600rpm
Continuous Variable Transmission, front-wheel drive

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