I am always amazed at peoples’ brand loyalty and particularly a specific model within the range. Just such a brand is Honda.
The CRV is a firm favourite but the one that tops the table in my area is without a doubt the Jazz. My test car was the range-topping 1.5 litre Dynamic Manual and it created quite a stir.
Built at the Tapukara plant in Rajasthan, India, this is the third generation of the Jazz to be launched in South Africa.
Lower and meaner looking than the previous generation, the wheelbase has stretched by 35mm and this is advantageous when it comes to passenger comfort, as well as vehicle stability.
The interior benefits from the ingenious Magic Seat system, the centrally mounted fuel tank, increased wheelbase, a more compact engine bay and a new rear suspension design, all providing a larger cabin.
There’s more leg room for rear seat passengers and luggage capacity is increased to 363l with the rear seats upright and 881l with them folded flat.
A new dashboard carries a binnacle housing three circular instruments, speedometer, rev counter and multi-information display.
The multifunction steering wheel and gearshift knob are leather covered. The centre console is home to the new seven-inch touch screen that works like a tablet and, when coupled to your smart phone, through an HDMI cable allowing you to use your apps.
It also controls the audio system, unfortunately not my favourite as I found it rather tricky to use. As one would expect from Honda, the Jazz is well equipped and includes a fully automatic climate control, Hill Start Assistance and rear parking sensors.
Safety is well covered with front, side and curtain airbags and ABS, EBD, EBA and VSA. The new Jazz drives well and offers good levels of comfort for all occupants but the high revving i-VTEC engine noise is a little intrusive.
Providing 88kW of power with 145Nm peak torque, the 1497cc unit buzzes along quite happily but you do need to make extensive use of the five-speed transmission to keep it on song.
As usual I did not manage to get close to the combined fuel consumption, claimed at 6l per 100km. My average was around the 8l mark.
I felt that the quality of fit and finish was not quite up to the usual Honda standard but why knock it, the Jazz has sold more than four million worldwide and this one is sure to continue the trend.
The Jazz 1.5 Dynamic Manual costs R268 600, which includes a three-year/100 000km warranty and four-year/60 000km service plan.
This is high, compared with other vehicles within the segment, but the added space and specifications make the new Honda Jazz the perfect choice for many in this age of downsizing.