Published on August 11th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Pinnacle of practicality: Honda Jazz 1.5L V Modulo review
The Jazz V claims an RM 8,000 odd premium over the mid-range Jazz E, but does the extra kit justify the extra cost? From the outside, it’s not that easy to tell the Grade V apart from the Grade E- only the 16-inch rims, fog lights, and mirror-mounted signal lights are a giveaway. The Modulo kit takes it a step further with the bits and pieces you’d expect- side skirts, a different grill, a spoiler, and the interior gets some nice mood lighting as well. The differences are more apparent on the inside, but more for components that seem a little peripheral to what the Jazz is at heart.
Under the bonnet there’s the same 1.5-litre SOHC i-VTEC motor that you see across the Jazz and City ranges. Power outputs sit at 120 PS and 145 Nm of torque- about right for the class, although a lot of that peppiness is neutered by a CVT gearbox. Some of you who may have suffered through some of the CVT issues that the City of two generations ago faced, but Honda has put a lot of effort into improving the reliability of their CVT systems. There are no sequential shift modes here: Honda Malaysia simply found that it wasn’t an option that customers appreciated, and they opted to not include it with this generation of Jazz and City.
Much like the City, the top-grade Jazz comes packaged with the 7-inch touch screen entertainment system (available as an option for lower grades as well). The touch-screen treatment extends to the climate control, essentially replacing the entire centre console. There’s a bit of a debate as to how desirable this system is: on the one hand, the aesthetics and quality make the Jazz feel like an extremely premium car, but in reality the controls can be a bit difficult to manipulate accurately. There’s none of the haptic feedback that you get from a physical switch, not to mention the smudges and scratches that the surface will pick up over time.
With the entertainment system comes a number of changes: from 4 speakers to 6, the inclusion of an HDMI input cable (which we hardly use), two USB slots, and some Bluetooth functionality as well. Oddly enough, the top spec Jazz also gets a storage area and armrest, electric folding mirrors, a leather wrapped steering wheel- bits and pieces that feel like nice additions, but don’t feel like RM 8,000 worth of improvement. But what may make the Grade V feel like a better proposition is an additional level of safety.
The Grade E brings Vehicle Stability Assist (electronic stability control) to the Jazz, along with the 2 front airbags that come standard in the Jazz across the range. But the top-grade Jazz also gets additional side and curtain airbags, reducing the risk of injury during a crash. It’s also worth noting that the size advantage the Jazz has over it’s competition may also prove to be better for impact safety as well. That’s one of the reasons why it achieves a 5-star ASEAN NCAP rating for adult occupant protection, and a 4-star rating for child protection.
On a less morbid note, the Honda Jazz is an excellent example in creative packaging. The ULTRA seat that occupies the second row is parallel to none, a result of over a decade of experience with making the Jazz a practical product. Not only does the second row effortlessly fold flat to accommodate large cargo in the boot, it also allows the bench to fold up in a 60-40 split that mimics the seat back. In this “tall” mode, it allows owners to place very tall objects in the car with ease, things that can’t be tipped over for placement in the boot.
While the City may be the conventional option for Malaysian buyers, with it’s 3-box design and extended trunk, it is the Jazz that takes the crown when it comes to packaging. The Jazz may not be the most dynamic in it’s class, nor does it have the quickest powertrain, or the sharpest looks, but it combines the compact dimensions you come to expect from a city-car with the practical loading space of an SUV- and it makes you wonder why other manufacturers can’t match the Jazz in that respect. If you’re the kind of person who finds their boot constantly filled to the brim, then the Jazz is the best bang for your buck. Should you opt for the model shown here, you’ll have to fork out RM 86,985, with an additional top up of RM 5,800 for all the exterior and interior Modulo bits- but still a pretty respectable car for the money.