When Honda Cars Philippines introduced the all-new Jazz in the middle of last year, many were surprised that the pricing of the top-spec variants were already comparable to models in the larger compact car class (i.e. Civic, Altis, et al). Be that as it may, there are two other more affordable variants of this third generation Jazz (known as Fit in other markets) and this is one of them: the 2015 Honda Jazz 1.5V.
The Jazz 1.5V sits just below the VX and VX+ versions, serving as the mid-grade variant of the range. In terms of looks, Honda’s designers penned the all new Honda Jazz around what they call the ‘Exciting H Design’ and ‘Crossfade Monoform Exterior’ concepts. The front end of the car has certainly been changed, and gets a fascia that seamlessly aligns the headlights and the grille for a more aggressive effect. The front bumper has also been changed significantly, though the car retains its sporty hatchback profile and is finished off with a curved tailgate with modern details like LED taillights, among others.
The sporty and futuristic design statement of the Jazz is featured on a body that has grown over the previous generation. This new Jazz measures in at 3,955mm long, 1,695mm wide and 1,525mm tall with a wheelbase of 2,530mm. If you’ve also noticed, this particular example is wearing Honda’s optional Modulo bodykit that includes the chin, spoiler and skirts.
Inside, Honda designed a cabin around concept of a ‘Sophisticated Futuristic Cockpit’ to generate a rather premium feeling dashboard. Quality is top notch even for this mid-grade variant as many surfaces are soft to the touch, the buttons feel solid, the gaps are very consistent and the details do well to accent the premium look.
Unlike before, the seats have been significantly improved for comfort; Honda is also highlighting the superior space and versatility of the Jazz’s interior as it still carries the U.L.T. system (Utility cargo mode, Long cargo mode and Tall cargo mode) as well as a new ‘Refresh’ mode.
This being a mid-grade version, gone is the touch screen LCD and the touch-activated climate control panel. Instead there is a conventional 2-DIN audio unit and a conventional manual airconditioning. Honestly speaking I prefer this one as it’s far simpler but loses very little of the functions of the top-spec variant, as you still have an aux port, USB input and even Bluetooth; all while still slashing a significant chunk off the price.
At the heart of this Jazz is a 1.5-liter SOHC 16-valve i-VTEC engine. This L15A motor appears to be a carryover from the previous one and makes 120 PS at 6,600 rpm and 145 Nm at 4800 rpm. It was a little odd that Honda didn’t opt to launch the Jazz with the more powerful L15B Earth Dreams i-VTEC engine available in other markets, though this one is mated to a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) developed under the Earth Dreams Technology program.
Driving the Jazz around town is a breeze; smooth, more refined and more comfortable over the previous generation. The Jazz also returns good fuel economy numbers; in town the Jazz delivered 8.9 kilometers per liter in moderate-heavy traffic (18 km/h average) and 11.7 kilometers per liter in light traffic (32 km/h average). The i-VTEC/CVT also worked well on the highway as an average speed of 84 km/h (driver + passenger) yielded 17.5 kilometers per liter.
Handling is a strong suit of Honda, something that the Jazz meets with confidence whether you’re in the city or on a challenging mountain pass. Body control and weight control is good when cornering at speed, and the stability offered by the Bridgestone Turanza tires are pretty good.
Overall, Honda has produced a car that definitely builds on all the nameplate’s strong suits, namely: versatility, design, sportiness, fuel efficiency and space. What they really improved on was the overall refinement and maturity in which the Jazz drives and feels; two things that are really needed for a model to be more premium over the previous one. At PhP 808,000 (excluding the Modulo kit) this 2015 Honda Jazz 1.5V CVT certainly makes a lot more sense, especially if you’re not after all the bells and whistles.