Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Honda Jazz Grade V - Driving Impression

After writing the first entry on 13th November, which coincidentally was my birthday, i did promise that i will write on the 3 or 4 days experience of driving the car through everywhere i would go within that time frame.

The Jazz was put through it's pace through Petaling Jaya, Bandar Utama, Subang, NKVE, Pencala Link, TTDI, Bidor, Sri Manjung, Teluk Batik, Lumut, Bota, Tanjung Tualang, Batu Gajah, Gopeng and Sri Damansara just to give a rough idea that the journey covers a healthy mix of city, highway, trunk road and residential area.

The Jazz was put through it's pace but well within the law of Malaysia and any acceleration was done on an empty road and all risk pertaining to it has been carefully judged and considered (this is just to put a caveat to what i will write below).

I do not condone excessive speeding and definitely not reckless driving.

And here is the hard part; driving this new Jazz 1.5 i-VTEC 5 Speed Automatic with Sequential shifting is like Lucifer waiting at the end of the drive-by-wire accelerator pedal and at the tip of your fingers twitching to use the paddle shifter to hear the VTEC roar.

There. I said it.

The drive started as i jumped into the car on Friday afternoon after collecting from Honda Malaysia. The A&P Consultant from Honda, Ben, was present to hand me the key and run through a few finer point of the facelifted Jazz and why it comes with the Modulo kit. There were already noted in the first installment of the review per the link above.

It takes a short while to get used to the Jazz, that is as little as driving out through the showroom actually. Mirror adjustment, seat adjustment and steering position was done within the first 45seconds of starting the car.

One of the thing i noted is that the steering adjustment could move in four direction; up, down, in and out. The cars I've driven before either could only move up and down or not at all. This meant the driver of the Jazz has better chances of customising the perfect steering position for optimum control and safety.
*image taken from Honda Australia website. Thank you.
This is important as i had driven car that has the steering wheel so low it was sitting on my lap or it was so high i felt like a monkey hanging on the wheels. By having the correct placement, the driver too will have delayed fatigue when driving long distance. I also believe this feature is available in most Honda make. This is a nice touch actually.

Those of you that drives a Honda would know the famed VTEC (or Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control). VTEC was initially designed for Honda Super bikes such as the CBR when it was still known as Hyper VTEC.

It was designed to maximise engine output to 100ps/liter. This also explained why super bikes are meant to be ridden at crazy rev (such as 12,000rpm). While variable timing gives bad engine stability at low rpm. VTEC is a result of "marrying" these low rpm non-performance and the high rpm ultra-performance. 

This has allowed a smaller engine (as Japan has higher taxes on bigger engine displacement) to churn out more "usable" power and good for mass production.
This was the same reason why the Jazz that was loaned to me has a redline of 7,500rpm. average car would redline at 6,500rpm with maximum horses at about 5,000rpm. This Jazz churns out the 118hp or 120ps (ps is Japanese unit for hp, with some conversion can be converted to the metric we are all familiar with) at 6,600rpm.

So, after the whole technical introduction (to my best understanding) of VTEC, what does this translate to some of us that is just buying the car because it is a Honda, or because the car look good?

It meant POWER. Power that is just waiting to be unleashed.

If my Soccer-Mum car has VTEC, it will be so much more drivable. No more struggling up any slopes. No more embarrassing look when you are trying to overtake the car in front of you. 

From the time i left the showroom to the time i returned the car days later, the best joy of driving Jazz was it's maneuverity, nippiness and ease of parking in and out of town. Overtaking traffic was a breeze and no drama (of "will i be able to make it or not?"). The power was at your tap. You decide the car will go.

Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH)
I tell you this and i will tell you again. This car will pass the usual Malaysia "door slamming" test. All six doors/opening (that would be the 4 doors, front bonnet and back bonnet) closes with a very resounding "THUD!". There is no Milo tin happening here. It is solid and assuring and nothing less is expected from an established car manufacturer like Honda.

Like the FREED i test driven, Jazz claimed to have superb Noise and Vibration suppression factor. While noise and vibration could be quantified, harshness is subjective. For this Jazz that i driven, engine noise was almost muted (that i had to see the rpm to ensure the engine is still running) and not heard inside the car cabin.

However, as the car has 16-incher wheels, the ride was somewhat more bumpy and less forgiving on bumps and such. This is true only when i went over road with small shallow holes and speed bump. Driving on the usual road does not give give me a feeling of a rough ride. To be fair, it was on par with how a one year old car would feel.
The Ride, The Babe and KD Rahmat

Did You Redline?
I would be lying if i did not. Though momentary and the gear upshifted again. Safety feature or should i say rev-limiter build into the car to protect the car from wannabe like me. There was two drive mode; the usual D or drive and the sportier S, of sequential. I am not sure if this is available in the City, Civic or Accord but it was certainly a "fun" thing to have.

Gone will be the day when i tell my son that "Papa's car got R, it stand for "Racing". Now i can tell him "Papa's car got Racing and Sports, which one you like?".

The i-VTEC kicks in at about 3,500rpm. Which was rather surprising as all the while i though it would come in at about 5,000rpm. Perhaps there are variation between the older VTi and VTEC. Taking this knowledge into play, the car has maintained mostly below 2,500rpm when cruising on city driving. This has contributed greatly to what i believe the great noise suppression while driving. Brilliant!

Over the 72hours i had with the car, I have used this to my advantage when i overtook cars. While in "D" mode, downshifting on the paddle shifter will automatically "up-shift" the gear when it touches 5,000rpm. VTEC has kicked in but maximum hp has not been delivered.

This too sort of confirmed that Honda has mapped the electronic control unit (or ECU) of the car to maximize on the torque (which max out at 4,800rpm) and by setting the car to upshift at 5,000rpm, it will sort of contribute to less fuel burning during spirited driving.

In "S" mode...it was pure devilish.

I took the car on an "S" mode along a 5km straight stretch towards Bota Kiri.
It was just me and the paddle shifter (right side paddle that is, to up-shift). I allowed the car to get to comfortable cruising speed of 80km/h and then i let it happen...Shifted to "S", downshifted to "3", slam on the pedal, RPM climbed with VTEC roaring to 6,600rpm, shifted up to "4" slam on again to 6,600rpm...i was already touching barely legal speed within 6seconds (did the one-one thousand, two-one thousand counting in my mind).

There was no hesitation and the only reason why i pulled back was for safety reason.

Honda rated the car to have a max speed of 165km/h. I am very sure it can touch that speed effortlessly.

Just in case any of you wonder if i am destroying the car engine, fear not, as VTEC do not hurt your engine, but your fuel consumption if frequently "visited".

Which was why i said it was a good thing to have when needed...or bored along a long stretch of lonely road.
Mimicking VTEC roar
Nola...twice at least...maybe, i lost count too. I don't know. I think wifey did it a couple of time as well.

Fuel Economy
I must say i am impressed. I actually averaged out 15.8km/l of petrol (Ron95). I got the car with full tank from Honda Malaysia. Trip meter says i should be able to clock close to 550km for that tank.
 Because of the mixed city and highway driving, (plus *devilish grin* those VTEC moments) the first tank gave me a return of 420km. Which isn't too bad actually as a tank full is about 37liters (with 5 balance for "safety buffer", Jazz tank is 42liter in size).

I refuelled about another 23liters or RM50 worth and in total i squeezed out 787km, with the fuel gauge nearing E or about 50km to go before the fuel lights come on.
Driving the Jazz through the trunk road was a joy. It was a mini sight-seeing for me and wifey as i showed her places i went before during my days out on the field travelling while she was at home taking care of Ryan when he was a baby.

The boot space fitted our race items inside a plastic box, plus the camera, a basket containing some drinks and food, sleeping bag and a small luggage with extra space to spare. There was still enough room about 20cm on top of the items that i can still put in more items.
I initially planned to put the seats down to fit the bike in, both wheels on, but that would block my view. Needless to say, it can put in a triathlon specific bike (or tri-bike). That was impressive enough as i could do it with my larger sized car due to how the seats fold.
My Spanish girlfriend with her heels taken off. Blue carpet is mine. Honda Malaysia got better taste than to shod the car with ugly faded blue carpet.

In fact, the car complement my sexy body and it allowed me to re-pack all the items (sweaty one included) with ease (plus shopping in Lumut for dried goods as well).
In Parting
I have managed to take the family, my mum and my mum-in-law in the car over the few days. Needless to say everyone only has good things to say about it. It ranges from smooth ride to nice looking. Along the way, i found out from friends owning Honda that it share the same engine as Honda City and has gotten feedback from friends owning Jazz (Thank You Aly!) and even a senior Old Putera that voiced the concern that Honda spares will be expensive.

While i am not able to judge everything or the loaned term was long enough to allow me to validate them, like how expensive are the spares, or will the rear passengers feel the ride to be rough (the car is too fun for someone to be a passenger!).

Will i buy it? Well, at RM109,800, it certainly target those that can afford the luxury and at RM3,000 more, you get the whole Modulo setup. If you can afford the basic price, i would say just go with the Modulo as well. At this point of time for us, our priorities is to clear the home loan as fast as we could - so perhaps when Jazz Hybrid come ashore?

Honda Malaysia should be reading this entry of my blog now and i believe they will also pay attention to comments any of you would put in that might capture their attention, or warrant their attention to make your ownership of their cars more enjoyable. So, please feel free to leave any comments, good or bad.

As for myself and the family, it was indeed a sad parting. As we went to drop the car back to Honda Malaysia, we asked our daughter which car she would want to ride.
Kids don't tell lies and naturally, she wanted the "white car". These photos wasn't re-created (and you know me, i always have a camera with me!)
Thank you Honda Malaysia and thank you Advertlets. Thank you for making my Birthday Weekend enjoyable! I look forward to more test drives as i found out that Honda will bring in the Insight soon! *wink*

I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as i enjoyed driving the car and writing about it!

1 comment:

  1. Well this is very interesting indeed.Would love to read a little more of this. Great post. Thanks for the heads-up...This blog was very informative and knowledgeable.