Touted as the biggest product comeback of 2015, the new generation Honda Jazz will hope to erase all memories of it's predecessor. Well, may be not all, since the last car was responsible for creating a benchmark for what a premium hatch should be. Spacious, practical and efficient. But since it was largely seen as overpriced, it failed to be a hit for Honda. But a lot has changed since then. Honda has understood the market much better now, and has had experience of playing hardball in the mass segments. And the buyer too now is willing to pay more for more - and a hatchback is no longer seen as a car that can't be really premium. Just take a look at the Hyundai i20's pricing now for instance. The new i20 starts at Rs 5.30 lakh for the base petrol, and tops off at Rs 8.05 lakh for the top-end diesel variant (ex-showroom, Delhi). And the fact that the car is a runaway hit now gives Honda plenty of room to play with.
Also See: All New Honda Jazz Pictures
Honda's 'crossfade mono form exterior' for the Jazz with new sporty elements makes the car now look a bit more appealing than the previous model. Indeed there are some design elements borrowed from the City like the narrow headlights and front grille blending into each other as one. But the mesh on the lower bumper did look a bit incomplete and a clear view of the radiator from that could have been hidden easily. We love that extended belt line all across the side till the tail-lights and the side profile does give it a sporty, low stance on its 15 inch alloys. At the rear, the spoiler is quite prominent and the car has LED tail and stop lamps along with a chrome strip that accentuates the rear styling.
The Jazz has 2 engine options - the 1.2 litre petrol though has been borrowed from the Brio but has a slightly higher power output of 89bhp though is tuned for efficiency. You can opt for either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a CVT with paddle shifters. We did spend most of our time with the diesel variant and so look out for a more detailed review of the petrol twins soon on NDTV Auto. The 1.5 litre i-DTEC diesel engine puts out exactly the same figures (98bhp, 200 Nm) as the diesel City's because of course it's the same motor and also gets the same 6 speed manual. But the downside of the diesel motor is that it doesn't very refined like we saw on the Amaze and the engine clatter creeps into the cabin. Honda claims to have improved the NVH levels inside the cabin but our results were far from satisfactory. The car accelerates easily and since peak torque kicks in pretty low, wading through city traffic will be a breeze also because the peak torque kicks in fairly low.
Also Read: Everything You Want to Know About New-Generation Honda Jazz
Now there was a legitimate concern from potential buyers about the low ground clearance that Honda cars suffer from especially over poorly built speed-breakers in India. The company has looked to address this with a redesigned exhaust system resulting in marginal improvement in ground clearance which now stands at 165 mm, but still lower than what the Swift and i20 offer at 170 mm. The new Jazz's suspension setup feels akin to the old car's, but there is improved stability and comfort in the ride. There is some amount of body roll that gets in as you take the car around wide corners at high speeds.
What you won't notice even if you look hard is the changes to the dimensions of the car which is slightly longer by 55 mm and wheelbase marginally up by 30 mm. So open the doors and you will enter a cabin, which is XXL in space, at least for a hatch this size. And that really is the ultimate USP in this segment isn't it? The wheelbase is longer than the old car's and so space inside the cabin has improved quite a bit. The hatch can easily seat 5 but the centre portion of the rear seat has a raised section which isn't too comfy. Headroom, knee-room, shoulder-room are all quite good but under thigh support in the rear seats could have been better. But we do like how the rear seats recline for that extra comfort but that option is only on the top-end model. The boot space is large at 354-litres and sufficient and the seats fold in 4 different ways - just like the old car's magic seats did.
The dash is very similar to the City's and the quality of the plastics also feel very similar. Beige and black interiors for the base and mid variants, all-black for the top-end spec is how the Jazz will roll. The new 6.2 inch touchscreen with navigation feels easy to use, and there is the really cool touch sensitive Auto AC panel (yes, like the City's again). The interface on this new panel felt responsive but like a new touch phone, you will take some time getting used to the controls. The driving position is low and feels similar to the previous model and the steering wheel has a good feel to it with the usual steering mounted controls. No start stop button folks, in case you're wondering!
The fuel efficiency numbers of the Jazz are impressive with the diesel engine claiming 27.3Km/l, just 0.3Kms behind the newly launched Maruti Celerio diesel, making it one of India's most fuel efficient car. The petrol CVT delivers 19Km/l, while mileage claims on the manual are at 18.7Km/l. Also impressive for a car this size.
The new Jazz will be launched early next month and pricing details will be revealed then. The car builds on the reputation of the earlier model in terms of practicality, space and efficiency but it will boil down to how well Honda plays the pricing card really. The premium hatch segment has changed a lot since the last car launched in 2009... and so the buyer too now is willing to pay more for more. Expect a possible souped up 1.5 litre 110bhp petrol Jazz with a sporty body kit sometime next year.
Also Read Comparison: Honda Jazz vs Hyundai i20