FEATURE STORIES

All That Jazz

All That Jazz image

Text: Iñigo S. Roces / Photos: Iñigo S. Roces | posted November 05, 2008 00:00

The new Honda Jazz Northern experience

"All that Jazz," it's a cliche that writes itself. What better way to talk about all the Jazz can do with the least amount of letters? Not surprisingly, it's what Honda called their recent event; entailing a two-days in North Luzon, no doubt chock full of driving and experiencing the all-new Jazz's abilities.

I was beginning to wonder if they were getting a head start on another Xtra Mile Challenge without Petron's knowledge. After all, the North was where the all of the Xtra Mile events began and that we, perhaps, might be the unwitting participants of another one.

It was all set up too well, almost like a trap. We were flown to Ilocos, picked up at the airport, and treated to lunch at the Honda Cars Ilocos Norte dealership. We were booked in very the cozy and newly opened Playa Tropical resort. Four new Jazzes in 1.3 and 1.5 trim were parked and waiting. The cars were packed with water, junk food and chocolates. Finally, a full itinerary of driving and sightseeing was scattered throughout the two days.

Of course, scattered in between the drives were challenges where participants could experience the Jazz's abilities first hand rather than read them in a brochure. A Packing contest, photo op and fuel economy run, all tied together with an Amazing Race style set of clues and challenges turned the event into a friendly contest. We'd soon find out why they insisted we eat so much as the challenge would burn all of the calories away.

The first challenge was the Utility game. The object was to load some 20+ long, small, and large boxes into the car. Stacked the way they were outside the car, it didn't seem possible, yet the Jazz's ULTRA seats (for Utility, Long and Tall mode), when folded in the right way makes it all possible. Items as long as 2.4 meters or as tall as 1.2 meters can easily fit, given you fold the right seat. A handy tip is to load the largest and bulkiest items first as the smaller ones can easily be squeezed in later.

With all of that done, we proceeded to drive to the many sights and challenges, leaving the packages behind, of course. Taking the passenger seat this team around, it's easy to get comfortable in the Jazz. A cupholder sits right at the corner by an aircon vent to keep things cool. In fact there are about eight cupholders in total, more than you'll ever really need. The dash has a double glove box, with a recess in between the two for small change. More storage spaces are scattered throughout the car with bins, recesses and even an under seat box if you look hard enough.

In the center is a very modern console, looking like something right out of a boom box. Arranged much like the new Civic, the controls are easy to acclimatize to.

The ride is greatly improved as a revamped suspension system keeps it afloat over bumps and makes the Jazz more comfortable than before, even with 16 inch wheels in the 1.5.

Getting in and out of the car for challenges, you really begin to appreciate how easy ingress and egress is. The rear door can open as wide as 80 degrees, while the trunk has a lower loading lip and a larger gate.

After a couple of challenges, I got to drive it, and could quickly set the car to a perfect position. The seats, though fabric, are comfortable yet support like a sport seat. The wheel adjusts for both reach and rake. The very slanted windshield makes the car feel like a sports car, while the quarter panel takes care of the old corner blindspot.

As for the driver's side dash, instruments are separated into three bezels with the speedo in the center. The wheel itself is obviously from the Civic, complete with audio controls and paddles when in the 1.5.

Under the hood is a choice of 1.5 or 1.3 liter engines available in 5-speed auto or manual. Both now produce more power than their predecessors and promise better economy too. The 1.5 liter with auto is easily the best choice as the combination of power and fun are at their best in this variant. The throttle is controlled with drive-by-wire technology while systems like grade logic control and shift hold keep the car in the same gear in inclines or turns. Paddle shift is always on and you can change gears even without shifting down to 'S'. After a while, it will revert back to normal 'D' mode while 'S' has gives you full control.

We stopped for a photo op at Paoay church in Laoag, and the break gave us a chance to better admire the new Jazz's form. The entire new shape was designed to produce a forward leaning look that both increases cabin space and improves aerodynamics. This forward shell also makes the car more friendly to pedestrians in the event of a collision while still standing up to a front impact collision thanks to a more rigid shell. Dual SRS front airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist add to the safety list.

Of course, the real success of the Jazz lies in its fuel economy and the second day granted us a taste of this ability. After filling up in the same Petron station where the Xtra Mile Challenge began, the 65 kilometer leg was accomplished within an hour and 45 minutes. A big help here was the multi-information display integrated into the center dial. A whole range of fuel consumption readout are accessible with just one button. Instant is always on display while the trip meter, average and even range can be brought up to display. The results were truly remarkable with a high of 30.4 km/L (2.17 liters consumed over 65.8 kilometers) even with a 1.5 liter engine. Of course, these cars were driven with a conscious effort but even conservative estimates suggest that the new Jazz can achieve an easy 16 km/L under normal driving conditions.

The two day test drive was certainly the perfect test bed for the new Jazz, mixing in a lot of sights and eats, great stopovers and a great mix of straight and winding mountain roads that combine to become a torture test that the Jazz effortlessly took on.

The Jazz has unquestionably gone through a lot of changes, all which served to improve an already great car. There are a lot of reasons to get a Jazz, but most of all because it can do nearly all you'll ever need of a daily driver. Saw what you want about small cars, this one is big on abilities. It really is "All that Jazz."