Little and large: How Honda made room for their new Jazz
First drive in Frankfurt
Published 05/08/2015 | 02:30
It would be a surprise if any new car these days was smaller and had less room. Indeed it is now nearly a mandatory mantra as every new model is rolled out.
Repetition can blunt the achievement, betimes, so I get where Honda's people back in Japan were coming from when they decided to do something about letting you know just how much space there is in the third generation of a car everyone seems to like.
They set about comparing the real-life space in the new Jazz with the current Mercedes S-Class luxury saloon. The latter is a big car obviously (but not necessarily one with a phenomenal amount of interior space).
The upshot is that Honda say their 'little giant' Jazz had more rear knee and legroom than the Merc. I sat in and tried out the Jazz. I don't think they are exaggerating. So let's settle on that then. It's one roomy motor.
And it will cost from €17,395 when it goes on sale in Ireland next month. Prices for higher ES and EX grades have yet to be worked out but I reckon you are looking ar €19,500 or thereabouts for your typically well-kitted car.
You also need to know they have a new 1.3 i-VTEC petrol engine (102bhp, €190/€200 road tax depending on model/trim) which succeeds the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre.
And could I prompt you to watch out for the 'automatic' Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) model (no price on that yet either)? I think it could surprise a few people. It was, in my opinion, much better to drive than the 6spd manual; certainly the engine was less raucous though the manual gearchange was excellent.
Normally I'd avoid CVTs like the plague because they can be slow to respond and create a lot of cabin boom. Not this. I think it's as good as there is out there. It also has lower emissions than the manual.
Back to price. That entry-level figure is €800 more than the old one but, of course, Honda claim the new car is bigger, roomier and a vastly better package. Not to mention being better equipped (cruise control, Bluetooth, electric rear windows and their City Brake Active system).
The Jazz has always been a big favourite in Ireland but faces even more intense competition from the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Note, Volkswagen Polo - the list seems endless.
Few, however, can match it on space - ask Mercedes. And one of the main reasons they've been able to find extra was by repositioning the petrol tank (under the front seats).
Space was the overriding sensation when I got in to drive. All the way through I felt it was a bit like driving a mini-MPV, especially with that large windscreen. The cabin is well improved too, with decent quality materials and a smart layout. It had a comfortable, rather than dynamic, feel to it on the road; the chassis is lighter and they've re-engineered the suspension.
As you probably know it shares a platform with the new HR-V compact crossover which I've reported on here relatively recently.
When it gets here it will have three trim grades. Standard spec (SE) includes air con, cruise control, Bluetooth, City Brake Active, auto lights/wipers, remote audio controls, electric windows, CD/radio with 5ins i-MID.
SE spec adds front/rear parking sensors, Honda Connect with 7ins infotainment touchscreen, electric folding mirrors, a Dynamic Safety Pack comprising forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, intelligent speed limiter and high beam support.
And EX adds smart entry/start, 16ins alloys, reversing camera, climate control, front fogs, six speakers and privacy glass.
Other reasons for all that space: It's 95mm longer and has a 30mm increased wheelbase to give more leg, shoulder and headroom front and rear.
The wide tailgate and low lip height should also make it easy to load stuff - and little tie-downs in the boot (now up to 354 litres) should keep it there. The boot expands to 884 litres with the rear seats down. And more when you drop the front passenger seat-back - the 'Magic seats' facility allows for all sorts of passenger/luggage combinations.
As it doesn't get here til next month it is a 161-reg option. That should give you plenty of time to check out this 'little giant' for yourself. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.