Month four has been a tough one for my Jazz long-termer, though mercifully not because of any unexpected damage or breakdown. For a change.
The fact is, to look at, sit inside and drive, the Thai-built Honda supermini is the very opposite of a driving enthusiast’s car, and it is constantly berated for it. Every Wheels Magazine journalist who’s driven the latest Jazz has moaned about how fussy the styling has become, how lifeless the steering feels, how loud the suspension is, and how jittery the ride can be.
I can totally see what they mean. I always find myself ironing out the silly ugly creases in my mind’s eye, longing for more feel and precision behind the wheel, and wishing for a quieter and more supple chassis. And it’s not just after driving the latest Mazda 2 or Volkswagen Polo, either. Even old-timers like the Ford Fiesta and Suzuki Swift highlight the Honda’s dynamic deficiencies.
An extended drive along one of my favourite ride and handling test routes only magnified the deadness of the steering while at the same time exposing other issues, including poor wet-road braking on the eco-centric Bridgestone Turanza 175/65R15 tyres (or do we blame the switch from rear discs to drums?) and doors that actually flap in their frames over rougher surfaces.
Whatever happened to the all-pervasive Honda engineering of the past?
Yet I remain a fan of my Jazz, reminding all the doubters of its world-leading packaging versatility, strong, smooth and efficient drivetrain, seamless around-town operation, decent air-con, excellent storage, superb all-round vision, high resale, low running costs and – by no means least – incredible value for money.
To live with the Jazz is to really learn to appreciate its many plus points. After a long, hot day, you can just sit back and enjoy the sensory deprivation experience that is the effortless Honda’s forte. Like a dose of Panadeine Forte, soon the commute headache just fades into the distance. You don’t even notice the tyres droning or the busy ride after a while.
So, mindful of its disappointing dynamic limitations, I remain a lone voice when it comes to extolling the VTi’s virtues.
PING THE DONKEY
If, like me, you’re prone to speeding without realising it, the Jazz’s initially annoying but now reassuring audible speed warning is a licence saver. I admit I can’t figure out how to switch it off, or change it from the 60km/h setting, and I won’t check the owner’s manual until I figure it out myself so the chime will most likely stay, but I don’t care. This annoying little gadget has saved me hundreds of dollars in fines already. Probably. Thanks, Jazzelle.
This article was originally published in Wheels March 2015.
Click here to read the full range review on the Honda Jazz.