What’s in a name? I guess that depends on how you interpret said name in context of its subject. In our case, the subject was the new Honda Jazz 1.5 Sport CVT which replaces the Dynamic derivative. So the name or derivative if you wish – had us wondering to what extent will the character of the Jazz Sport be… well, sporty?
Known for its uncompromised practicality and quality – I jumped in with some skepticism and hope. I was confident that the practicality is something I needn’t worry about because this was still the giant killing Honda Jazz that is class leading on practicality due to its MPV profile that remains unchanged. This means that cabin space remains one of the best in the class with very good head-room, spacious rear passenger leg room and a boot size that is 359L with the seats up. To put this in perspective, the closest contender to the Honda Jazz in boot capacity is the current Toyota Yaris at 286 litres. With the seats folded down the boot capacity is extended to 889L. The seats still have the rear magic folding seats which fold up to accommodate long items behind the front seats. A feature that I think is highly underrated.
Added to the practicality is a plethora of comforts such as Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch touch screen display, a push-button start key less entry, USB/HDMI connectivity, a reverse camera, electronic mirrors, cruise control and leather covered steering to name a few standard features. Interior quality is also very good with some use of soft-touch materials on the dash. The seats could have done with a tad bit more of thy support. Either than that, the seats were comfortable and the arm rest was a welcome add on.
The exterior has an aerodynamic body styling that includes a new front grill in piano black and chrome trim, a sculpted bumper with black fog lights surrounds, LED headlights and a front splitter with a red trimming. The rear also boasts a red trimming on the rear diffuser and a rear spoiler. The mirrors are a piano black finish which match the gloss black 16-inch alloy wheels. All this makes the Jazz Sport more noticeable and gives it a slightly more aggressive look compared to a standard Jazz. The question however still stands. Do all these sporty aesthetics translate to an actual sporty hatch?
The answer is somewhere between yes and no. Honda has tweaked the suspension to be a bit stiffer and has replaced the rear drums with discs. The other tweak is a power upgrade which boosts the standard 1.5 16V i-VTEC to be more powerful by 10% on torque and power. The differences are notable but not to the point of the pulling power blowing my hair back. This means that the Jazz Sport is not in line with the outgoing Ford Fiesta ST and the new VW Polo GTI. The other Achilles heel from a sportiness point of view is the CVT transmission which is better than most but a far cry from offering that sporty engagement you get with a manual transmission even if you use the paddle shifters.
Does all this mean buyers should be turned off the Honda Jazz Sport – because of a car that is marketed as sporty but doesn’t quiet hit the sporty DNA? Not at all. You can look at this Sport derivative as an equivalent of an M-Sport (BMW), AMG (Mercedes) and R-Line (VW). You get a standard car that has sporty look and sometimes a bit of extra power – but hardly the sporty credentials that we expect from the name – SPORTY.
The upside for the slightly underwhelming power is the fuel consumption. We managed to get below the specified 5.8L/100km. Between traffic and highway driving we were averaging about 5.0 and 5.6L/100km. Very good consumption for a naturally aspirated 1.5 engine.
So then – what you get for R319, 200 is class leading practicality, loads of luxuries, a 5 years/200 000km warranty, a 4 year/60 000km service plan plus a 3 year AA roadside assist. Overall – a good buy, that can potentially sway you from a C-Segment hatch due to its size.