Honda: 2014 Jazz RS Sport review

Honda: 2014 Jazz RS Sport review

You know the advertising campaign for a new Honda model works when you wake up in the dead of night having just dreamed about that particular car.

In the case of the new Honda Jazz range it seems to be advertised in every newspaper, magazine and billboard, plus every man and his dog also seems to be reviewing it including us. With the appearance of a stylish shoebox many light car punters would discount the all-new Jazz before taking one out for a test drive, which is a a big mistake from where we sit.

2014 Jazz RS Sport interiorFirstly, Honda engines are little power packs that are smooth and sip fuel ever so gently. Because of their good pricing and competitive specification, we feel that Honda cars should always be included in decisions around those wanting practical motoring, rather than an ego driven eccentric.

This is the third generation of Jazz (launch story here), the first one turned up to much applause in 2001. Known as the Honda Fit in USA and Asia, our market found this sub compact very appealing due to its Tardis like nature of being small on the outside and big on the inside.

It was soon pressed into work by the toughest of the tough, aka New Zealand courier drivers. Survive the unique punishment of this role, and your car will gain instant urban street-cred, which indeed the Jazz did. The third-generation Jazz feels like Déjà vu, its a complete blank sheet of paper revamp that was plotted to bring 2014 Jazz RS Sport magic seats2014 Jazz RS Sport engineback the original design philosophy of Jazz, but not rest on its laurels. The purity of the original is there but so is the progress.

Spec

For our reviewing purposes Honda NZ supplied us a brand new Jazz RS Sport in automatic transmission (really constantly variable transmission or CVT) in the stunningly brilliant sporty Blue. At $28,400 consumers are onto a good thing and if you hadn’t noticed all the advertising, it’s an all-new model from the ground up.

The Jazz RS Sport has a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine with CVT or 6-speed manual gearbox, aero bumpers and skirts, 16 inch styled alloy wheels, with sports suspension, seating and steering. Safety features include City Brake Assist when you need it, and daytime running lights to make sure others see you, and to this list I would add Hill Start Assist to abate any road rage in your rear view mirror.

Tipping the scales at 1070kg and 40 litres to fill the tank, the 5.4L/100km claimed is a 25% improvement on previous models and we can see this being achieved with cruise control standard, as well as economy spectrum lights on either side of the rev counter to assist with heavy footedness.

Power2014 Jazz RS Sport dashboard

Maximum power is rated at 97kW/6,600rpm power and with a torque figure of 155Nm/4,600rpm the Honda engine plays it straight, that’s until you floor the accelerator pedal, and then it fair boogies. There is so much new in the engine department we suggest you dig deeper if you want to be impressed.

However the best bit is this is all done with 91RON petrol so even the most miserly of motorists can enjoy a guilt-free driving experience.

Inside

Sliding inside is a treat with firm supportive seating and a clever colour palette that is sporty but useful without any hint of Bogan-ism. Fit and feel is up to the normal high quality expected of a Honda with a dash of spice not found in the usual corporate decisions of other brands.

The touch screen audio is easy to navigate but a lack of a CD player shows market targeting to Mister and Miss Now Generation and not the generations before.2014 Jazz RS Sport boot open

Experience

The drive is sporty but not too harsh, with handling that would match many brands at five times the asking price, so maybe this new Honda really is a Giant slayer.

We found the performance was awesome for this class of car and even the CVT version gets going when driven correctly.

2014 Jazz RS Sport hatchThe steering is precise and winding twists and turns are welcomed, with good brakes in the supporting role. Hill start assist is appearing on more small cars, and it certainly is a benefit around busy undulating cities like Auckland and Wellington.

Verdict

The Jazz is not just a car. It’s a statement of owner smarts. With loads of versatility you can not only justify this purchase but also have fun along the way.

It’s a trendy fashion statement to appeal to the pretty young things, and the young at heart but all the while its exceedingly practical in use. Honda has once again shown they are a consumer driven automotive manufacturer by packaging a good product at a realistic price.

The rear area with magic seating that contorts itself out of the way is exceptionally clever giving acres of space for all kinds of loads.

Not so good: I am being really picky here but the OEM audio head unit was slow to kick in the reversing camera and then a wide fisheye perspective make reversing trickier than it needed to be. And no CD player, really?

The open road noise on Kiwi tar and chip surfaces was invasive as always but this comes down to OEM tyre choice.

The alloy wheels do look like they were put on the wrong model or missed a stage in painting. Maybe an up spec to those from the Mugen model would help, as they look fresh and fit for purpose.

Bottom line? Still love this car!

Price $28,400

Pros

  • Great specification for the price
  • Maintains the unique selling point of Jazz
  • Fun to drive

Cons

  • Fish eye reversing camera presents a challenge
  • Didn’t like the alloy wheel design
  • Why no CD player?

Words and pictures:

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