Honda's hot hatch has been given a major upgrade. Welcome the new Jazz 1.5 VTEC.

The same power plant that powers the Honda City VTEC is now under the hood of the Honda Jazz. The 1.5-liter VTEC engine gives the Jazz a more exhilarating performance with 110 Hp and 142.1 Nm as power and torque figures, respectively.

This gives Honda Jazz buyers the option to go economical with the current 1.3-liter i-Dsi engine of the S variant or go power tripping with the new 1.5 liter V variant. Both frugal engines are EURO4 emissions compliant, with the 1.3 S variant having the capability of doing 1,114 kilometers with just one full tank of Petron XTRA Unleaded, as piloted by ace driver Pocholo Ramirez. Worth mentioning also are the remarkable fuel consumption figures made by the Honda Jazz owners themselves on 2004's Amazing Fuel Eco.

Standard equipment of the Jazz 1.5 V include a new design 15" alloy wheel set with 185/55 R 15 tires, a body kit consisting of chin, side and rear skirts. Differentiating the upgraded variant even further are the rear-mounted sports antenna and a high-mount stop lamp.

Interior-wise, the 1.5 V Jazz has a new interior with two-tone black and gray upholstery, with the black hue dominating the overall color scheme, further differentiating itself with the dominant gray scheme of the 1.3 S variant. The ULT seating concept of the Honda Jazz extends its flexibility even more by accommodating almost every kind of cargo. The driver's seat of the 1.5 V variant also has a height adjuster that will accommodate any type of driver regardless of height.

Transmission choices for the Honda Jazz continue to be between the slick-shifting 5-speed manual and the 7-speed CVT transmission, which provides automatic transmission convenience minus the shift shock. Disc brakes all around take care of stopping duties for the 1.5 V as well. Two new colors are also available for both the 1.3 S and 1.5 V variant, which are Iris Red Pearl and Nighthawk Black. Other Jazz colors such as Vivid Blue, Silverstone Metallic, and Taffeta White are still in circulation, with the white color being exclusive for the 1.3 S and the Silverstone Metallic will be exclusive for the 1.5 V variant.

SRP for the new Honda Jazz is now PHP 632,000 for the 1.3 S variant with manual transmission and PHPH 672,000 for the 7-speed CVT variant. For the 1.5 V variants, manual and CVT transmission command a price sticker of PHP 712,000 and PHP 752,000, respectively.

On a different tune that night, Honda was also happy to announce to the members of the motoring media that the well-loved Honda Media Challenge is staged to make a comeback, with the Honda Jazz 1.5 V as its weapon of choice. This exciting and fun-filled event will surely be a perfect testing grounds for Honda for its new hatch offering.

The Honda Media Challenge was first conducted on 1998 and went on for six years until 2003. The year 2000 saw Thai media drivers participating in this local event, eventually earning for the event a page in the Asian issue of Newsweek on 1999.

The Honda Media Challenge is recognized by the FIA through its affiliate Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), wherein passing participants are issued FIA-accredited racing licenses.