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2018 Honda Jazz Petrol facelift First Drive Review

What is it?

The Jazz, although not that successful a car for Honda, has always had its own set of fans. The massive cabin and clever interiors have been its USP and still remains so, to this day. Like the previous generation Jazz, the third generation car which was launched in 2014 was hampered by its high price and an unimpressive list of features. But now with its mid-life facelift, Honda has tried to address these issues and have made minor cosmetic changes too.

To spot the changes made to the exterior of the 2018 Jazz, you would need to look really hard. Upfront the Jazz looks exactly the same as the old car and except for chrome door handles, the profile is the same too. The most prominent new bit is the tail lamps, which now have a wing shaped LED illumination which looks really nice. Overall it will be hard to tell the difference from the new Jazz as compared to the old one and it remains a car that looks clever, but lacks emotional appeal. 

How is it on the inside?

Like the exterior, the interiors too sport very few visible changes. The 2018 Jazz gets the same dashboard with a funky design and a flurry of asymmetric cues. It is well thought-out too, with nice touches including multiple cubby-holes, numerous cup holders and the touch controls for the air-con is intuitive too. Overall plastic quality, although largely good, is still a notch or two below the standards set by some of its competitors.

As before, the brilliance of the Jazz lies in its comfortable interiors. Entry into the massive cabin is made easy by large doors which open wide. Outward visibility is good, thanks to the generous glass area, but thick A-pillars obstruct view. The front seats are set at a good height and are broad with generous bolstering and comfortable over long journeys. But it’s the rear seat which is the real highlight. There is abundance of knee room at the rear and the generous width and flat floor makes it a decent five-seater too. Unlike the old car though, Honda has ditched the trademark magic seats, which is a shame. What has also been omitted are adjustable rear headrests. This a glaring exclusion, as the fixed headrests are too small and won’t help in case of a rear-end collision. The boot, like before, is generous and the low loading lip and wide opening makes loading heavy luggage an easy affair. 

With the new Jazz, Honda has ditched the base E and SV trim. As a result, every variant of the Jazz is well equipped. The top Honda Jazz VX trim now comes with a new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which has loads of features. It comes with 3D satellite navigation, Voice recognition, Mirror-link, two USB ports, HDMI port, 1.5GB of internal memory, Bluetooth telephony with music streaming and much more. It is a well-integrated unit and is easy to scroll through. Honda has also made rear parking sensors and speed sensing door lock standard, which honestly should have been there even on the earlier Jazz. Although the top CVT and the diesel variants get keyless go-and-cruise control, it has been weirdly omitted on the VX petrol manual variant. Overall the Jazz is well equipped but lags behind the competition as it doesn’t offer gizmos like LED DRLs, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers and auto dimming rear view mirror. 

How does it drive?

The petrol Jazz still gets the same 1.2-litre i-VTEC motor, which we have extensively sampled in the old Jazz. Like all modern Honda petrol engines, it is near-silent at idle and has good overall refinement. And like before, it’s available with a five-speed manual or a city friendly CVT automatic option.

Responses at low engine speeds are good and it gets off the line eagerly. But what lets it down is the weak mid-range. This means you will find yourself shifting down every time you want to pick up the pace and this can be a hindrance in some situations; like say, when you want to pull off overtaking maneuvers on the highway. The five-speed gearbox, though, is a delight to use – very light and accurate, with short throws. The clutch is light too, which is a boon in traffic. 

If you don’t like to use the clutch or shift gears too much, Honda also gives you the option of an automatic transmission. The auto 'box works really well in traffic and is quite responsive at low to medium speeds. Being CVT, the Jazz feels jerk free and proves to be a comfortable city commuter. However, ask for more power and the rubberband effect of the CVT gearbox pretty much eliminates the direct link between the throttle and engine responsiveness. Things do improve when you shift to Sport mode or manually select the ratio via the steering mounted paddle shifters. Overall, the automatic works very well in the city but out on the highway, it feels out of its comfort zone. 

Where the 2018 Jazz has improved substantially is in terms of suspension refinement. Gone is the clunky suspension, and the 2018 Jazz just glides over imperfections with surprising ease. It still feels firm, but it´s well judged and it never feels uncomfortable. We also feel this is due to Honda ditching low rolling resistance Michelin’s for MRF’s, as the softer sidewall of the latter gives the ride a softer edge. The Jazz was never meant to thrill around corners, but it does hold its own in terms of the way it drives. Pushing it hard into corners results in the tyres fighting for grip, but it isn’t half as bad as you may imagine from such slim rubber. Even the electric power steering feels quite accurate and makes the Jazz always feels surefooted and stable.  

Should I buy one?

Like before, the reasons to buy the 2018 Honda Jazz are its spacious interiors, practicality, easy-to-drive nature and peace of mind ownership experience. The fact that Honda has improved the ride quality has made it a more complete package. But with competition being fiercer than ever before, Honda should have made more cosmetic changes to freshen up the Jazz and although it offers more features, it still can’t match the Hyundai i20 and the Maruti Baleno in this aspect. The fact that the Jazz is, by far, the most expensive car in its segment, makes its job all the more harder. 

 

Where does it fit in?

The 2018 Honda Jazz petrol is available in V, VX, V AT and VX AT trim levels. Meanwhile, on-road prices range between Rs 8.62 lakhs and Rs 10.53 lakhs depending on the variant. At these prices, it competes with other premium hatchbacks including the Maruti Suzuki Baleno and the Hyundai Elite i20. 

 

Photos by Kapil Angane

Click here for specs, images and on-road prices of the 2018 Honda Jazz

 

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Honda Jazz Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
New Delhi₹ 8.39 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 8.28 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 9.17 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 8.73 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 8.64 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 8.83 Lakhs onwards
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