In a segment traffic jam
The segment in which the new Jazz plays is congested to say the least, with most mainstream manufacturers pitting evermore impressive challengers to the throne.
As I discovered, the Jazz is a more utilitarian product than many of its competitors who have shifted to a more “premium feel” approach - where the Honda offers practicality and specification while broadening its appeal.
So where does Jazz fit?
I decided to do a bit of research and as before I took to some of our more prominent shopping malls to ask people firstly, if they knew what a Honda Jazz was, if they did, I would ask them who they could see driving it and finally whether they answered yes or no, I would show them the new one and get some form of a verdict.
The verdict, after 47 people at three shopping centres selected at random across age groups and genders was that people recognise the Jazz as a car for elderly women. Mostly, however, upon viewing the new one, they seemed to change their tune to something more akin to a vehicle for young families.
From an exterior perspective, the new product is certainly a more modern-looking hatchback. It’s more angular, more stylised and, overall, a product I feel will sit far better with the masses than the conservative previous generation. It may not look it but the new car actually has a longer wheelbase yet lighter, which means it’s faster, more economical and has more occupant room.
Much like its predecessor it has the Honda Magic Seat system, which means you can fold the seats flat (including the passenger seat), for more space, fold them upwards to create two loading areas and shift them back and forth, according to you load requirements. This makes the Jazz a very handy family hatch.
Up front, Honda has done away with the enormous buttons and gone for a more sophisticated infotainment-centric hub with a touchscreen set-up. There is an HDMI port, USB, Bluetooth, AUX and 12V catering for most media needs, while the multi-function steering wheel has controls for the radio and cruise control system.
There are no surprises on the engine front with the familiar 1.5-litre four-cylinder i-VTEC unit powering my test car. There’s 88kW/145Nm on tap and even through we’re up on the reef the car still acquitted well with a decent speed of power and a more solid-feeling gearshift action from its five-speed unit than I remember on the new Ballade.
Overall, the new Jazz is a good product; it’s practical, refined, looks great, is well kitted and is a more appealing package, especially to the younger buyers out there.
My biggest criticism of the new Jazz is pricing. The model I had on test was the Dynamic, which is priced at R257 300 (R272 300 for the automatic) including a four-year/60 000km service plan. This has a lot to do with exchange rates leading to price increases within the Honda stable, which is an unfortunate reality.
For the Dynamic manual’s price you can get yourself a top-of-the range Volkswagen Polo TSI DSG, the automatic diesel range-topping Mazda2 and for around R18 000 less, the automatic Ford Fiesta 1.0T Titanium.