JIMS: HONDA JAZZ

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Upping the compact car ante

Honda’s Jazz range has undergone a series of styling and detail changes to enhance its already compelling credentials. The focus of the changes is on maintaining core Jazz attributes such as versatility, practicality and reliability, while also enhancing fuel economy, emissions, ride comfort and style.

The arrival of the latest Jazz range also heralds the return of the highly regarded CVT gearbox. The suspension and steering have been fine-tuned to improve ride refinement, stability and handling.

NEW NOMENCLATURE

The latest Jazz range sees the introduction of revised nomenclature. The line-up now starts with the all-new, manual-transmission Trend model, powered by a 1 399 cc four-cylinder engine.

Standard features include front and side airbags, ABS brakes with EBD and EBA, remote central locking, a four-speaker sound system with CD front loader and MP3 capability, air-conditioning, power steering, electrically operated front windows and mirrors, and Honda’s renowned rear Magic Seat.

One notch up is the Jazz Comfort, which has the same engine and offers all the standard features of the Trend. However, it adds a leather-trimmed, multifunction steering wheel, and electrically operated front and rear windows. Alloy wheels replace the Trend’s steel versions, and the door handles are colour-coded.

The Elegance, which slots in above the Comfort, offers an even more comprehensive standard features list. It’s also more powerful, thanks to the fitment of a 1 497 cc four-cylinder engine.

Exterior updates include the fitment of front fog lamps, while the interior gains curtain airbags, in addition to front and side airbags. The audio system gains an iPod connector, and the exterior mirrors can be retracted at the push of a button.

The range is headlined by the Executive model, which features exclusive extras such as a panoramic roof with electrically retractable sunshade, auto wipers with rain sensors, auto headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The Jazz IMA Hybrid is only available with the CVT gearbox, and offers a standard features list similar to the Elegance petrol-engined model.

FRESH EXTERIOR STYLING

Honda has given the Jazz’s distinctive coachwork a subtle nip and tuck. The new front and rear bumpers emphasise the car’s sleek shape, while an aero-styled grille augments the redesigned bumper. These changes improve aerodynamic efficiency.

All Jazz models share new sleek, projector-style headlights, while several new colours have been introduced, too.

Inside, the most noticeable change is the adoption of a darker dashboard material, combined with a new seat fabric to enhance the ambience of the cabin.

The improved Magic Seats feature seatbacks that can recline by 73 mm, boosting rear passenger comfort. The Magic Seats offer multiple seating and load-carrying configurations.

PROVEN MECHANICALS

The Jazz Trend and Comfort models feature a 1 339 cc four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC variable valve timing and fuel injection. Power and torque maximums come to 73 kW and 127 Nm respectively.

The Elegance and Executive versions are fitted with the more powerful 1 497 cc four-cylinder i-VTEC engine. It produces 88 kW of maximum power at 6 600 r/min, linked to a torque peak of 145 Nm at 4 800 r/min.

The new Jazz range offers a choice between a five-speed manual gearbox, a five-speed automatic gearbox, and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) unit. The CVT is available on the Comfort, while the normal automatic is offered on Elegance and Executive versions.

The CVT now includes a torque converter, like a conventional auto gearbox, but uses a drive belt running on a conical pulley to offer an infinite number of stepless ratios for improved driveability and fuel efficiency.

Both CVT and automatic transmissions can be operated via shift paddles behind the steering wheel, allowing instant manual gear selection for enhanced driver control.

SUPPLE, RESPONSIVE CHASSIS

The suspension on the 2011 Jazz features revised settings to increase ride comfort and improve handling. The steering has also been given additional resistance to improve “on-centre” feel, for greater drivability.

The basic chassis of the Jazz Hybrid is identical to that of the standard Jazz, however, the anti-roll bars and damper tuning have been optimised for the 70 kg weight increase over the petrol car. The result is an improvement in ride comfort over the 2008 Jazz, increasing refinement, particularly over poor road surfaces.