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The new Jazz goes over bumps and potholes well.
The new Jazz goes over bumps and potholes well.

Honda Jazz in a new avatar

Honda's new premium hatchback is spacious and has a diesel variant too

photoThis is the second coming of Honda Jazz in the Indian market. In its previous attempt a few years back, the Jazz was a hugely competent but overpriced premium hatchback. Due to falling sales, Honda had to eventually pull the plug on it. This time around though, Honda claims to have learnt from its mistakes.

It’s an all-new model built on a new platform but you can still identify easily the design as the one on the previous Jazz. And it’s a good-looking hatchback, except for one thing: The arches above the rear wheels make the tires look thinner than they actually are.

What’s great though is that the Jazz’s design is about more than just looks, it’s got practical reasons behind it. The tailgate extends low on the bumper and the doors open nice and wide. Swing open the doors and you’ll know that one of the car’s strongest suits is its cabin space. The Jazz is easily the most spacious car in its class with ample head-, leg- and shoulder-room for five. The front seats are as nice as in the City sedan, although the rear ones don’t provide enough support and the cushioning is a bit too firm. In the top specification variant, you can adjust the backrest angle.

When it comes to driving environment, the Jazz is much like the City. The chunky steering, the instruments and the basic layout of the centre console are all similar. But visibility from the driving seat is a bit of an issue owing to the thick A-pillars. What you will definitely not have an issue with is the storage space, there are nine cup holders and plenty of cubbyholes.

The Jazz will be available with a diesel engine. It’s the same 1.5-litre i-DTEC unit as in the Amaze and City and makes peak power of 98.6 bhp. The engine comes mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that helps this version of the Jazz deliver a class-best Automotive Research Association of India tested fuel economy of 27.3 kilometres per litre. The engine is never free from that coarse, industrial noise when pushed. Its performance is also much in line with what we’ve experienced from this engine on the City and Amaze. Good driveability is the highlight here. Correspondingly, you can get by in traffic without the need to work the gearbox all that much. Gear-shifts are smooth and slick and the clutch is easy to operate.

Highway cruising ability is good too. This car is best driven in a relaxed manner.

Those looking for performance will be better off going for the 1.2 i-VTEC petrol engine with the manual gearbox. This engine produces 89 bhp. At low revolutions, the response isn’t very strong but the mid-range performance is good. If you press on, you’ll love the steady and strong build of power all the way to the 6,800 revolutions per minute limit.

We drove the petrol Jazz with continuously variable transmission (CVT), and found it quite suited to average city driving. The gearbox responds well to mild changes in throttle. But press hard on the throttle and the rise in revolutions isn’t matched by an equally swift rise in speed. The engine sounds strained at this point and more often than not, you will back off and let the engine get back to its comfort zone in the mid-range.

What’s impressive is that there are paddle shifters placed behind the steering wheel, something not many cars in this segment do.

The Jazz’s handling on the whole is best described as safe and predictable. Typical buyers will like the Jazz more for how easy it is to twirl the steering and the fairly tight turning circle. The Jazz goes over bumps and potholes well but the ride quality gets a little rough around sharper edges.

If space and versatility are what you are looking for, the Jazz makes for the best buy. Helping the Jazz’s case this time around is the fact that it will also be available with a diesel engine, petrol engine and a petrol automatic version. This car comes across as extremely comfortable and well suited to the requirements of day-to-day city driving. It will be launched in early July, and the pricing is expected to be from 6-9 lakh, which will pit it against the Hyundai Elite i20.

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