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Honda Jazz

Rises above the din of other sub-compact cars out jostling for meager space
| Sep 21, 2006
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WORDS: Allan P. Hernandez

Honda has two sub-compacts out for your money. There’s the City—a peppy, nifty piece of auto that’s great for, say, squeezing between two speeding buses along Edsa. But one with a butt and nose problem. Where the trunk looks to us to be jutting out from the rest of the car, the nose seems to have cut itself off abruptly. While there surely must be an engineering explanation for that, on the outside we see a thing of strange disproportion.

And then there’s the Jazz, which is perfect. That makes it even more strange because the Jazz, in principle, is the City—same brawn under the hood, same wheelbase, same dashboard even. But the Jazz looks way nicer and sportier, and the aesthetic balance is amazing. We don’t know what illegal substances the Honda design team was on when they drew up the City, but we do know that if they did trip out once or twice on the job, they took the right ones when they did the Jazz.

Zero cheese
For starters, they chopped off the trunk entirely, making the Jazz a hatchback. Then they molded a seamlessly extending rear and slapped on wickedly designed rear lights (the ones you don’t replace with atrocious aftermarket parts).

That done with, they forgot the City entirely and went on to craft a body that swept on to the front tip of its nose in one amazing stroke. Looking at the Jazz from its wicked lights—which, by the way, is now designed in the same body color of the car—you can trace the sharp profile of the car all the way to the back. They finished it off with a sporty chin that gives an illusion of a low ride. Then they plopped in a VTEC engine for the 1.5l model and an I-DSI engine for the 1.3. What came out was a car with zero cheese factor.

Because it was now a hatchback, and the Honda team found a way to move the fuel tank under the front seat, there was now more room to play around at the back. They came up with ULT seats.

These are seats that can be folded and slid for the car to be able to take in various cargo. Anything from flowerpots, bicycles, surfboards, a reclining woman can be jammed into a Jazz.

Arcade fire
The Jazz is small on the outside, but surprisingly has considerable space inside. Headroom is ample, legroom is good if you aren’t above 5’7’’. The feel on the steering wheel and the overall drive is tight.

You can actually crank up the jazz to drive like a toy. On the steering wheel you have two buttons placed where your thumbs are supposed to rest. This is the Steermatic button. Press this button and you go into 7-speed mode. You have the + and – for when you want to shift gears. A bucket of popcorn is all that’s needed to complete the arcade feel.

Why do car manufacturers put these things in a car these days? That and stepless acceleration, “normal” and “sporty” drive modes? Well, because technology allows us to. While the universal principle remains that cars are meant to take you from point A to point B, how you get there is constantly changing as we speak. You don’t have to lose sleep not using it, but it’s just there.

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