Hondas and I go back decades. Even when I was a kid, my favourite toy was a 1:43 scale Z360. In high school the original City and CRX played starring roles in my demented daydreams, while the uni years had me yearning for an NSX (while also quietly coveting the low bonnet line of the exquisite Prelude 4WS that won our 1987 Car of the Year award).
But now I’m over all the old Honda nostalgia. I’m tired of the inevitable disappointment when a new model is tested and doesn’t live up to expectations. I want to live in the here with a Honda. I want to move forward and make memories in the now.
After the brilliant Kuga Trend TDCI long-termer loaded with advanced driver assistance tech, swapping into a base-model B-segment hatch is exactly what this inner-urban dweller craves. I cannot resist a clever city car. Like the Z360.
The third-generation Jazz is a gentle evolution of the revolutionary original. The famous rear “Magic Seats” and high roof remain, only now the wheelbase is some 30mm longer, the body’s been stretched 76mm and the torsion-beam rear end is more compact, all for an unprecedented 1492 litres of available space. As both humans in my household are cyclists and Romy the Labrador prefers a low floor to gingerly step into, everybody should be happy with the Jazz’s genius packaging.
Infuriatingly for my desire to see Honda in a fresh and progressive new light, however, the preceding model’s rear discs give way to drums and the 88kW/145Nm 1.5 single-cam i-VTEC is unchanged. Honda NZ offers a 1.3 as well as an all-new direct-injection 97kW/155Nm 1.5 (with a six-speed ’box), so why can’t the local mob? Perhaps because ours come from Thailand instead of Japan.
At least the CVT transmission – in lieu of the standard five-speed manual ’box – is efficient enough to lop almost an entire litre off the official fuel consumption average (which is now 5.8L/100km).
In line with a complete redesign, much else has changed – a more aerodynamic body, a stronger yet 60kg lighter platform, overhauled electric steering and suspension – and the value equation has been improved. It may only be a base VTi, but our Jazz includes a reversing camera, modish touchscreen multimedia system, LED lighting, and integrated Bluetooth phone/audio streaming (at last) with 12-volt/USB/HDMI/MP4 outlets, six airbags, stability control, cruise control, reach and tilt adjustable steering, air-conditioning, a trip computer, electric windows and remote central locking.
Let’s see if the latest Jazz also comes with all that old-school-Hondas-are-better baggage. I have six months to find out.
This article was originally published in Wheels December 2014.
Click here to read the full range review on the Honda Jazz.