New Honda Jazz: Hatchback competes against Elite i20 and Baleno, perhaps its biggest rival is the Amaze sedan

By: | Published: August 6, 2018 12:47 AM

The Honda Jazz, called the Fit globally, has undergone mid-life update. Changes aren’t extensive, but are these enough to keep the interest alive in a segment dominated by Maruti Suzuki Baleno and Hyundai Elite i20?

Compact, cute, curvaceous, clever—you can use a number of adjectives to describe Honda’s premium hatchback, the Jazz.

Compact, cute, curvaceous, clever—you can use a number of adjectives to describe Honda’s premium hatchback, the Jazz.

First launched on June 10, 2009, the Jazz opened up a new segment in India. Here was a hatchback that was as spacious as most sedans and as versatile as most MPVs.

It was a practical car for urban Indians—parking it was a breeze, the cabin was well-appointed, and the ride comfortable. But there was no diesel-engine option and even the entry-level model cost a steep Rs 6.98 lakh. Not many people bought it.

On August 18, 2011, Honda increased the car’s localisation levels and dropped the price of the entry-level model to Rs  5.5 lakh. But that couldn’t revive the product.

In March 2013, the Jazz was discontinued, having sold a paltry 23,000 units in four years.On July 8, 2015, Honda re-launched the Jazz, for Rs 5.31 lakh. Called the Fit globally, the new car looked futuristic, and was armed with a diesel engine, too. While it had formidable competitors—Hyundai Elite i20, and later Maruti Suzuki Baleno—the car finally got the attention of buyers.
Three years later, last week, the Jazz got the mid-life update. We drive it in and around Delhi.*

What are the changes?
There aren’t many. The new Jazz gets subtle exterior styling elements, including the rear LED wing light and chrome door handles, and two new exterior colours—radiant red and lunar silver.
Inside the cabin, the top-end variant gets the 17.7-cm touchscreen infotainment system with audio, video and navigation—called the Digipad 2.0, it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The car finally gets the smart key system and the engine start-stop button, which illuminates in white and red. And there is a keyless remote control for infotainment.

While the maps—powered by MapmyIndia—have street-level detailing, this feature is gradually getting redundant, because these maps don’t give you real-time traffic update, and you’d often end up using Google Maps on your smartphone, especially if you are stuck in traffic or usually drive during peak traffic hours. The MapmyIndia maps, however, can be of help in the hinterland, far away from major cities—they are very detailed.

Cruise control is available in petrol CVT and diesel MT models. The CVT gets paddle shifters to manually change gears, if one wants to.

Engines are the same—1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine (90PS and 110Nm) and 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine (100PS and 200Nm). Honda claims it has improved the NVH levels of the Jazz, which were anyway very low in the petrol. The CVT we drove is quite fuel-efficient—Honda claims 19kpl in ‘ideal’ driving conditions; we got 14.4kpl in peak traffic hours. The petrol manual has a claimed mileage of 18.7kpl, while the diesel, mated to six-speed manual transmission, will give you a claimed 27.3kpl.
The car has excellent manoeuvrability, with a 5.1-metre turning radius, and has a ground clearance of 165mm.

New safety features include standard dual airbags, ABS with EBD, and rear parking camera with sensor. While the rear parking camera displays a wide angle image (and has three image display modes), the image itself is of poor quality—all it perhaps needs is a better quality lens. The new Jazz also gets the speed-sensing auto door lock—a very important safety feature.
Ex-showroom, Delhi, prices of petrol start at Rs 7.35 lakh and those of diesel start at Rs 8.05 lakh. The petrol CVT, which was earlier available in VX trim, is now available in both V (Rs 8.55 lakh) and VX (Rs 8.99 lakh).

It’s compact, cute, curvaceous, comfortable and clever car for city conditions. However, while the Jazz competes in the premium hatchback segment against the Elite i20 and Baleno, perhaps its biggest competitor is the new Amaze sedan, often parked next to it in Honda showrooms, and which is priced lower, from Rs 5.8 lakh onwards.

*We drove the VX CVT petrol, priced Rs 8.99 lakh.

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