CAR REVIEWS

2004 Honda Jazz 1.3 M/T

2004 Honda Jazz 1.3 M/T image

Text: Raymond D. Young / Photos: Raymond D. Young | posted July 10, 2004 00:00

Jazz Reflections

Let's face it; Filipinos aren't really fond of hatchbacks. They'd rather buy that base model sedan for the sole reason that it has a boot to boast. With this premise, most car manufacturers even fret at the thought of releasing their hatchback offerings, for accompanying it is the premonition that it will not sell well, unlike the car buying public on the other side of the globe.

But this did not stop Honda, the local hatchback pioneer via their ultra-popular EG Civic hatchback of the 1990s, in releasing their Jazz variant in our local shores. Otherwise known as the City's sibling for they share the same platform and technologies, the Jazz possesses a handful of styling cues to differentiate it from the less assuming, albeit competent sibling.

The Jazz, in a nutshell, is a showcase of Honda's expertise in small car development. It is a concrete example that even small cars can be representatives of the company's car building experience and technical know-how gathered throughout the years. And naturally, Honda would excel at this field. Back when the time that the Civic was just a subcompact vehicle that won the hearts of frugal American motorists, it was a medium for Honda to showcase new technologies such as the environment-friendly CVCC engine and the compact front-wheel-drive configuration on the time when propeller shafts driving the rear wheels were the norm. Up to this date, every Honda vehicle is a showcase of the company's breathtaking technologies which makes them a leader in their own respective categories.

The Jazz's visual differences include the totally radical front end, as evidenced by the three-dimensional headlights with greater glass area compared to the City's. As the Jazz is a hatch, the side profile differences are very obvious. In fact, only the front doors are shared with the City, after that it's a different story. But it's the inside that matters the most, for it is bound to deceive the eye and the senses.

Adopting the Zenshin body concept, Honda engineers were able to offer more space than what the limitations of exterior dimensions could offer, just like any apartment on upscale Tokyo. The gas tank is made compact, and then positioned under the driver's seat, which made way for a more flat and low floor. This effort alone yielded more headroom and leg room that even exceeds than what traditional sedans could offer. Another space-giving technology of the Honda Jazz is its ULT (Utility, Long, and Tall) seat concept, wherein the seats can be folded and tumbled as the need to carry more arises.

Space issues aside, the Honda Jazz offers a good driving position, although once is forced to sit low in the cabin with no height adjustment to tinker with. Just like any Honda, controls are ergonomically positioned and require the least effort to establish contact with, the very tactile shifter included. The driver's seat also offers an excellent view of the road ahead despite the seating height, all in almost minivan-like fashion. Small need not be weak when it comes to safety as the Honda Jazz has dual airbags, ABS, and EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution) which will come in handy during emergency situations.

Driving the Honda Jazz for quite some time returned a great driving experience. All driving pedals always provided great feedback, thereby increasing driving confidence by a hundredfold. The EPS (Electric Power Steering), another cutting edge technology from Honda, provided well-weighted, sharp steering response and feedback although it sometimes border on the heavy side. The engine, on the other hand, is another iteration of Honda's i-DSi (Intelligent Dual Sequential Ignition) technology, wherein two spark plugs are employed per cylinder that guarantees complete combustion of every gasoline feed. Coupled with the slick, short-shifting five-speed manual transmission, the Jazz provides spirited and excellent acceleration around town with acceptable fuel consumption figures of 11-13 km/liter on mixed cycle driving.

These features, accompanied with very good looks, had earned Honda of unseating the current favorite as far as the Japanese Car of Year Award is concerned. With very good looks, able performance, miser fuel consumption, and large interior space to boot, it will definitely give sedan patrons the second thought on making their vehicle purchases. Hatches are definitely the pre-requisite formula for garnering more pogi points, especially in a style-conscious country of ours. Shun the stigma that hatchbacks were a waste of road space because of their limited interior space and owner-centered attributes, for the Honda Jazz can be the next compact family car as well.