Blame it to the population or the congestion or the economic standing if you like, but there is no shying away from the fact that the Indian automotive market thrives on small cars and hatchbacks. So even after starting off with a mid size sedan in the City and luxury sedans like the Accord and the Civic, Honda finally got a hatchback in its Indian portfolio – the Jazz. It was been a popular model in Honda home country as well as other established markets like Europe and America. In India the Jazz made a disguised appearance by spawning a sedan offering – the second generation Honda City. Having tasted the Indian waters already, the Jazz in its hatchback form finally made its debut in 2009.
Design and Features
For an average car enthusiast, the Jazz will look like a new version of the yesteryear Civic hatchback that was a major hit in Europe and an illegal import in India. But that said, the Jazz looks Japanese right form the word go with its ’manga’ style headlights, a big Honda logo up front and oval fog lamps. Like a typical hatch, the Jazz boasts of a small bonnet, but unlike the rest of its competitors, the Honda sports a large windshield – much similar to its bigger siblings, the City and the Civic. In fact it’s so large and swept back that with the Jazz’s cab-forward form, the combination makes the car appear like an MPV from its side profile – a baby-Innova at that. The inclusion of a high mounted rear quarter-glass further underscores the fact. The taillights are not too intuitive and look a tad old fashioned after being exposed to the units on the Civic and the City. However, they gel well with the high quality paint on the Jazz – making the whole package look premium.
Ironically, the interiors of the Jazz feel more up-market than its immediate sibling, the City. The quality and finish of the plastics in top notch and utterly Japanese. If you are looking for something subtle though, you would be better off in the cabin of a Polo or a Fabia. The instrumentation in the Jazz follows a three-pot design similar to the 2nd generation Honda City, albeit with more spacing between the clocks. The steering wheel comes from the current Honda City and the inclusion of the steering mounted audio controls adds to the up-market feel. Thanks to the large windshield, the car feels roomier than what it actually is. But what’s roomier for sure is the boot. It’s one of the best in the class in terms of space utilization. Add to that the fold ability of the seats and you have a lot of space for your weekend travels. Overall, the Jazz offer decent amount of space advantage over its rivals and feels more like a sedan than a hatch.
Drivability and Comfort
Considering the Jazz is going to do most of its duties with the city limits, there are some issues. The large windshield looks good, but the base of the windshield being far away, makes it difficult for average drives to judge the corners of the car. Further, the grey coloured dashboard that is extended to the far base of the windshield makes its reflection prominent on the glass while driving in the day, thus affecting visibility to an extent. The dashboard’s flow into the centre console tend to dig into your left knee every now and then, specially if you are a tall driver. Apart from these small knick-knacks, the Jazz’s seats are up amongst the best in its class. Rear set comfort too is noteworthy and can seat three average sized adults comfortably.
Like all other Hondas in India, the Jazz too is a victim of body roll under spirited driving. It’s mainly because of the soft suspension. However, this coupled with the skinny tyres, can lead to unnerving maneuvers when you decide to go a tad too hot into the twisties. Further, the rear of the car tends to bounce around when even when laden with two people in the back seat. But restrict the car to the city confines and its light steering will amaze you. She is at ease in the city, once you get used to the dimensions of the car.
The Jazz employs a 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine which puts out 90 horses. This mill takes advantage of the reduced taxes on cars below the 1200cc mark, but sadly the price of the car still remains too high for many. The engine is good for extracting up to 13 kilometers from a litre of petrol depending on your driving style.
Form factor wise and features, the Jazz competes with the Fabia, Polo and the i20. However, at a price tag in the range of C-segment sedans, the Jazz is one car that is hard for the market to digest and it is clearly reflected in its low sales.