Published on July 4th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair


Why the Honda Jazz Still Makes Sense in Today’s Market

The Honda Jazz, by right, should be a pretty tough car to sell in Malaysia. Not because it’s poor in any regard, but because we’ve got access to a full-spec Myvi for a LOT less money. That version of the Perodua Myvi comes with a 1.5-litre DUAL VVT-i engine, Advanced Safety Assist and pretty good looks. So, yes it is more than competitive in most regards.

But just last week, we took the full spec Honda Jazz out for a spin and found that it still had its place. It’s a very specific place, but it definitely exists. Kudos to Honda Malaysia for seeing that. However, we felt a little disappointed that only one other Japanese brand could still commit a hatchback to our market.

Anyway,  before we get into what we found appealing, we thought we’d point out some of the differences between the Jazz and City, as we’ve already covered the pre-facelift City, the facelifted model, and the current City Hybrid.

Despite sharing a lot mechanically, the Jazz has its own distinct design, youthful flavour and that’s reflected in its price and target market. So, for the RM3,000 you save on a Jazz, what do you lose?

Well, you get only half leather seats, but most won’t mind the tasteful looking fabric in here.

LED headlamps are also missing here, instead, you’ll have to make do with halogen reflectors. Some prefer the low maintenance factor of these traditional bulbs. Modern LED headlamps tend to be proprietary designs and cost whatever the manufacturer wants to charge for them to be replaced. We’re not sure if that’s the case with Honda, but best to err on the side of caution.

Perhaps the biggest sacrifice is the lack of rear vents and power sockets. Being a hatchback, the Jazz isn’t primarily aimed at those with families.

This is a car targetted at bachelors, seniors, and those who just don’t regularly transport more than 1 other person. The rear seats work fine, but the City’s are better.

And to contrast the City’s mature ‘Dark Ruby Red Pearl’ paint choice, the Jazz gets a brighter, more ‘youth-centric’ hue of paint called ‘Carnival Red’. Different style of alloy rims, too.

You might be thinking that the Jazz is even more of a lost cause next to its more complete brother, the City. But there will always be hatchback buyers who will forgo both the Myvi and City. Here’s why they might choose the Jazz instead:

  1. The badge
    Think what you want about them, but Honda Malaysia has put in the work. You don’t beat giants like Toyota and Nissan easily in terms of sales. Some chalk their success up to a great product lineup, but it really is more than that. And the reputation the brand builds from all the little things they do right adds up. People want to be seen in Hondas because Hondas do cars the right way. If you’re one those people caught between making a sensible purchase and avoiding what the rest of your peers are doing, the Jazz is the perfect middle ground.
  2. The image
    Malaysians can be quite cynical when it comes to homegrown brands, so whether or not you understand how much effort Perodua puts into making reliable cars en masse, the general consensus remains: “imported goods are superior goods”. So, let’s say you’re the sort of person who wants something small enough to park in the city, but your job has you meet clients who will immediately judge you by the car you drive. In that case, the Honda Jazz might be the right fit. Yes, it is a little petty, but situations like these do exist, and not everyone can afford to splurge on something more expensive.
  3. The practicality
    The Jazz is king when it comes to practicality. It may not have a large boot like the City, but its ULTRA rear seats collapse into themselves making it better suited to transporting appliances and small furniture.

    Honda touts a few seating modes for the Jazz which allow for tall or large objects to be transported in its cabin.

    All this is possible thanks to the position of the fuel tank underneath the front occupants rather than below the rear occupants. The V variant we tested even come with 9 cupholders. NINE! Of course, those cupholders can double as storage bins for just about anything else that fits.

  4. The resale value
    Everybody knows Honda makes engines that last. As long as you make sure it gets clean oil, a Honda engine can outlive your pets and maybe even relatives. Honda also has a rather good record for parts availability. On top of making owners happy with reliability, this reputation directly translates to good resale value. So, yes you do pay a little extra for a Jazz, but you also sell it for a little extra too.
  5. The way it drives
    Of course, being a Honda, the Jazz has a really good suspension setup. Even with a torsion beam and a CVT, this little hatch is dynamic and fun to drive. This particular model has paddle shifters and to be honest we didn’t use it often, but only because we didn’t feel the need to. Of course, the Jazz isn’t a Civic from the ’90s. It trades that boy racer sportiness for creature comforts and a touch of style. But the DNA is still there for all those who ask it to perform.
  6. The packaging
    Here’s the problem with looking at things from a business standpoint – you forget that cars are very individual choices. Anybody who’s already attracted to the Jazz will be effortlessly convinced to buy one just by exploring one on a showroom floor. The faux stitching on the dash? More convincing than some real stitching. The folding seats? They give more room than some crossovers do. The look and feel of the cabin? More exciting and upmarket than some D-segment cars. The Jazz is relevant because Honda are experts at making appealing cars. Man, if they brought in a manual version, every motoring journalist would buy 2.

Honda Jazz 1.5 V Specifications

Engine: Inline 4, 16-Valve SOHC, i-VTEC
Capacity: 1,497cc
Gearbox: CVT with paddle shifters
Max power: 118hp @ 6600rpm
Max torque: 145Nm @ 4600Nm
Price: RM80,912

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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