The compact hatchback segment in India has three important players, namely the Hyundai Elite i20, Maruti Suzuki Baleno and the Honda Jazz. While the i20 boasts of class-leading features and Baleno banks on the exclusive Nexa experience, the Honda Jazz is popular for its spacious cabin and an impressive powertrain. In a bid to make the Jazz more appealing, Honda has garnished it with features that should add more value to the package.
Last year, Honda unveiled the updates to the Jazz sold in the international markets. The kit seemed more premium with the all-LED headlights (similar to the new Honda City), sportier bumpers and a new alloy wheel design. Mysteriously, however, these have been given a miss on the 2018 Jazz for India. The design changes on the new Jazz are subtle in nature. In fact, at first glance, one might confuse it for the previous model. The top-spec variants get chrome handles. While I am not a fan of bling, it is a subjective choice and certainly has takers.
The rear profile gets an update in the form of LED wing lights, that look good but not as premium as the ones on the Hyundai Elite i20. And lastly, the Jazz now gets two new colour shades - radiant red metallic and lunar silver metallic. We believe the international-spec facelift could have made a stronger impact compared to what Honda India has cooked up.
Cabin and features
I have always appreciated the cabin of the Honda Jazz for it offers tons of space and practicality. The 2018 Honda Jazz retains all of that without any change in the dimensions.
The big update is the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink connectivity options. This system has an inbuilt memory of 1.5GB. Additionally, the system also offers 3D navigation. The infotainment screen also doubles up as reverse camera display. This was a much-needed addition considering both its rivals, the Elite and the Baleno come equipped with it. The user interface of this unit is nice and simple. The only issue being the control buttons positioned beside it. The readouts are a tad too small and the touch feel is not exactly premium. Also, the 2018 Jazz comes with rear parking sensors and speed sensing door lock as standard.
Lastly, the hatchback also gets the glowing push start button (similar to that on the Honda City), front centre armrest, central lock switch and a driver side vanity mirror. Features like cruise control and the keyless remote are offered only in the diesel and the top-spec CVT variants.
Surprisingly, Honda has discontinued magic seats from the Jazz, a feature that made the Jazz score more on versatility as compared to the other offerings. The adjustable headrests on the rear seats have been replaced by fixed ones, and that seems like a step backwards for a brand that is usually obsessed with safety.
The 2018 Honda Jazz continues to be offered with a choice between 1.2L i-VTEC petrol, and 1.5L i-DTEC Diesel engines with the same state of tune. The petrol unit makes 90PS at 6,000rpm and generates 110Nm at 4,800rpm while the diesel offering produces 100PS at 3,600rpm and generates 200Nm at 1,750rpm. The 1.2L petrol can be optioned with either a 5-speed manual or a CVT whereas the diesel is available only with a 6-speed manual transmission. We really wished to see the City's 1.5L petrol in the Jazz - which would not only make it more enthusiastic and fun to drive, but would also give the Jazz an edge over its rivals. It was also speculated that Honda was planning to offer the diesel unit with a CVT, sourced from new-gen Amaze.
Honda's petrol engines have always been one of the most refined in its class. The petrol i-VTEC in the Jazz too is a smooth unit at idling speeds. In fact, the car is barely audible at standstill. It is only when the engine reaches mid-range, one can hear the four-cylinder taking larger strides. In comparison to the diesel, the petrol unit of the Jazz feels more enthusiastic to drive but not to the extent of keeping you engaged. One has to really push the engine to its peak to squeeze out its maximum potential. The steering is well weighted and progressive. So are the brakes. Despite the cushy suspension, there is no unnerving nose dive even when coming to halt from 80kmph. Driving in bumper to bumper traffic doesn't feel cumbersome because of the light steering and also the light clutch and the smooth gearshifts. However, if shifting too often is not your thing, the 1.2l petrol engine can be optioned with a CVT unit.
Ride and handling
Doing suspension duty on the 2018 Honda Jazz are McPherson struts in the front and torsion beam in the rear. The system does absorb the undulations caused by uneven surfaces. There is body roll, but not in unnerving amounts. The ride isn't bouncy either. The handling dynamics aren't in the league of the Volkswagen Polo but comparable with the likes of Baleno and Elite i20.
The 2018 Honda Jazz is available in two petrol (V, VX) and three diesel (S, V, VX) trims. Honda has done away with the two base E and S trims on the petrol variant of the Jazz, raising the base price tag by Rs 1.46 lakh over its predecessor.
The 2018 Honda Jazz is priced between Rs 7.44 lakh and Rs 9.09 lakh for the petrol trims and between Rs 8.15 lakh and Rs 9.40 lakh for the diesel variant. Prices of the Hyundai Elite i20 start at Rs 5.40 lakh and go all the way up to Rs 9.21 lakh for the top-spec diesel. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno has slotted in the Rs 5.40 lakh to Rs 8.58 lakh. All prices are ex-showroom Mumbai. While the Jazz has always been a practical and spacious car, the new additions do make it more appealing than before. However, for that price (and compared to its Japanese and European counterparts), it leaves you wanting for more.