JAZZ REVIVAL Lurgan Mail

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Honda CR-V Hybrid

JAZZ REVIVAL

Published on Tuesday 11 March 2014 06:18

Ten Second Review

Honda has played safe with the latest Jazz, keeping the basic formula the same but tweaking and refining the car’s detailing. As a result, it’s a little better looking, more efficient, even easier to live with and better to drive. There can be no denying it’s a very accomplished package.

Background

I’m still trying to figure out why this happened. The Honda Jazz should, by all established rules, have become the sort of cheeky supermini car adopted by twenty and thirtysomethings. Instead, it became the sort of car you wouldn’t think of getting into without a disability allowance, a travel blanket and two Werthers Originals to be taken four times a day.

Yes, it was easy to own, easy to get in and out of and easy to drive, but since when have the younger generation passed up on an easy life?

The Jazz has steadily improved since its low-key introduction in 1984. That model only lasted a year before vanishing and we then had to wait until 2001 to get the bigger and better version that was the foundation for the model’s success. That car was replaced in 2007 with an all-new car that didn’t look drastically different but which offered a more flexible seating system and better efficiency.

The latest Jazz is a refinement of that car with incremental tweaks right across the board.

Driving Experience

One Jazz tradition prevails. You’ll search in vain for a diesel model, Honda instead playing a three engine line up that consists of an 89bhp 1.2-litre unit, a marginally more zesty 99bhp 1.4-litre model and a clever petrol/electric hybrid version which uses technology from the Insight to offer city drivers something occasionally silent to glide around in.

All three engines have one thing in common. They’re uncannily smooth and the transmissions are also beautifully engineered. Go for a manual model and you’ll have a car that you’ll want to flick up and down the box just for the fun of it, while the dual-mode CVT automatic (you can set it as a quasi-7 speeder if you tire of the gently rising and falling drone of the conventional CVT mode) is extremely effective and more efficient than a conventional manual with torque converter. Visibility out of the Jazz is excellent and this latest model improves ride quality and aims to reduce wind noise at speed via some aerodynamic refinements.

The steering has been adjusted to offer a bit more feel at motorway speeds.


Design and Build

Honda has opted for an evolutionary rather than extreme design update; sleeker front and rear bumpers as the key styling changes. The bumper and air dam assemblies have also been designed to reduce drag as the airflow passes over the Jazz’s body and to avoid turbulence when the air detaches from the rear. These styling improvements aid aerodynamic efficiency on all Jazz models helping the Cd figure to fall from 0.336 to 0.330.

The projector headlights also give the latest Jazz a sharper look.

Inside there’s additional chrome and the option of leather, which makes the cabin feel a little more upmarket and the instruments have been revised with orange backlighting unique to the petrol powered variants, while the Hybrid version uses blue lighting to differentiate it. The quality of the dashboard materials (already pretty good) has also been improved.

Otherwise it’s much as before. The retention of Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’ system — where the back seats can be folded down into the footwell in one fluid motion with the headrests in place — is very welcome. Lift up the rear seat cushion against the rear seat back and there’s a tall protected space in the rear seat footwells for items like plants.

This model also gets rear seats which now recline 73mms to increase rear passenger comfort.

Market and Model

Prices remain in the £11,000 to £18,000 bracket, slightly more than you’d pay for mainstream rivals like Ford’s Fiesta or Vauxhall’s Corsa. Still, it’s a difference you’ll probably get back in a higher resale value when the time comes to sell.

Instead of the sprawling line up of different engines and trim levels that are offered by rival manufacturers, Honda likes to keep things relatively simple with its models. The Jazz has one bodystyle and two mainstream petrol engines with a select group of trim options. Standard equipment includes a CD stereo with MP3 compatibility and speed-dependant volume control.

The petrol-engined cars follow an S, ES, EX trim walkup while the hybrids are badged HS, HE, and HX. Leather seats are standard on the Jazz Hybrid in HX trim and available as a £1,250 option on the 1.4-litre petrol EX model.

Safety has been a major concern in the design process of the Jazz. The car features Honda’s ACE body structure which works to help avoid crash situations where larger vehicles ride up over smaller ones. Standard safety equipment looks very generous with dual front and side airbags plus full length curtain airbags on all models.

Cost of Ownership

Honda has worked at improving the economy and efficiency of the Jazz but the gains made aren’t huge. The 1.2-litre engine manages a combined fuel economy figure of 53.3mpg and carbon dioxide emissions drop to 123g/km. Choose the 1.4-litre petrol engine with a manual gearbox and the emissions are pegged at 126g/km while fuel economy is a still creditable 51.4mpg.

The Hybrid is the model to look for if you’re keen on reducing day to day bills, getting average of 62.8mpg and emitting 104g/km. Your savings will be even larger if most of your driving takes place in the city, where the Hybrid’s electric advantage comes to the fore.

The Jazz has always done well in terms of residual values, largely because the … ownership profile means that cars are usually serviced on the nose, driven sympathetically, cover low mileages and aren’t destroyed by kids or borrowed by teenagers.

Summary

Honda has long been a company that follows its own groove, refusing to be swayed by short-term marketing trends and with the Jazz, it has hit upon a formula that Understandably, it has been reluctant to make radical changes to something that works so well. Which is why this generation Jazz plays safe. The only danger is that so subtle are the upgrades, many may fail to appreciate the work Honda has put in.

The current Jazz will continue to appeal to its core market of … owners looking for an easy driving, reliable vehicle, but the hybrid model may well reach out to a new group of customers who want a smart eco vehicle that doesn’t sacrifice practicality for green credibility. In summary, the Jazz might be ‘sticking to the knitting’ but I suspect that it’ll do very well as a result.

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