Saturday, November 13, 2010

Honda Jazz Grade V - First Impression

Most of us have seen the Honda Jazz on the road in Malaysia. Some of you reading might actually owns one, or owned one before. However, this is my first time with any Honda car proper. My last engagement with anything Honda was the when Advertlets organised a media test drive with Honda Malaysia for Honda Freed.
For that particular event, i drove the Honda for only 40km. That is sufficient, but not enough to satisfy a curiosity to actually drive a Honda for at least a marathon distance.

And as if that Honda Malaysia heard my prayer, i was offered via Advertlets to actually test drive/review the new face lifted Honda Jazz Grade V.
Honda Malaysia only has this variant of Jazz in their line-up of cars. This is a five-door hatchback subcompact car CBU from Japan.

Honda Jazz was first introduced in 2001 and has since went through a few face lift, with the latest offering to be more sleek and sportier.

I did some read-up on the Internet and i found out a lot about the car.

As i arrived at Honda Malaysia in Petaling Jaya, i saw the Jazz that was already prepared for me by the side of the building. It was a pleasant surprise that the loaned car is white. Wifey has always wanted to drive a white car and i see this as an opportunity for her as well to see how it would look like when she drives it.

As most of you already know, i drive a sub-MPV. To be specific, a Hyundai Matrix. It would not be right to compare this two side by side as they are of different segment. Wifey drives another Korean re-badged known as Chevy Aveo. This would meant that we will be able to see and feel immediate differences when we drive the Jazz.

The next big suprise was that the loaned car is actually the full spec Jazz with Modulo bodykit! Now we are talking! I was already delighted and it was like an extra whip cream topping to the whole cake! While the Modulo bodykit offers no performance enhancement, it was nevertheless a nice touch to showcase just how aggressive the car could be with it.
This Grade V version comes with a 1.5liter i-VTEC engine coupled with a 5 speed auto transmission. Those that know Honda would know what VTEC meant. In layman's term, it simply meant performance. True to the VTEC badge on this Jazz was the RPM indicating a redline of 7500rpm! That is insane! This car comes with paddle shifter as well - very similar to what F1 cars has. It gives the driver a certain level of control over the gearing to drop a gear or two when entering/exiting a corner, or that extra ommphhh when going up a slope.

I could feel my fingers and toes twitching.

This entry is not meant to conclude my test drive or review (that i will do it after i return the car on Monday) and it is more to mention a few nice features available with this facelift.

At first glance, the car looked aggressive. Make no mistake about this. Having a large 16-incher wheel in gunmetal color show with low profile 55-series Bridgestone (told you it is CBU Japan!), this car promised to perform.
While the main market is targeted as a second car in the family, mostly meant for the wifey/gf/mistress/ladies, i see great potential of it attracting even adrenalin-testosterone laden male like me. Well, maybe that was just my feminine side. ;-)

The Modulo bodykit comes with fog light, tailgate spoiler, illuminated side-step, alloy pedals, trunk tray and of course, the 16-incher wheels. These are optional of course and if you got extra to spare.
The seats are all black and comfy. Honda Malaysia do not provide leather seat upgrade for Jazz but one could easily do that by sending it to a seat fitter to get it done. In my humble opinion, i feel the current set up is already good enough.
The dashboard was a nice touch with many compartments to store a lot of nitty-gritty stuffs. My only worries is that you might forget where you actually place them in the first place! To start with, there are 10 cup holders. This is one car that nobody will die of thirst if all 10 spots are placed with drinks!.
The steering wheel was sporty looking with radio control and cruise control at your thumb-tips. The meter cluster was in bright orange illuminated lights that come on when you start the car. All control for the car are within reach of the driver and nicely placed out for practicality. One example is the climate control (air-cond la) knobs which are just to the left of the steering wheel. The side mirror control is on the right hand side next to the ignition hole.
However, i felt that the side mirror control could be improved by illuminating them. I find myself looking for it in darkness during the drive today. The climate control knobs too, differs from what i am used to. Instead of the whole knob turning, it's just the outer ring and you tend to try to twist the knobs the other way...well, i got that sorted out after one day driving today, lets see if my brain remembers it tomorrow.

The in car entertainment(ICE) system is integrated into the dash. The ICE could play the usual Radio (FM and AM), MP3, WMA and a nice touch is the USB cable where it could also interface with any iPod (and iPhone) devices for playback in the car. If you are a Blackberry user, there is the AUX (or auxillary) jack for you to play your favorite tunes in the car too. Honda even placed a 120W power source should you need to plus your laptop in (as long as you got the cigarette type plug power pack of course).

Even cooler is the unit is capable of reading album and title name. Now you will know what song is being played (if you have been listening to Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift and can't tell the tunes apart)
Honda Jazz pride itself by being the roomiest subcompact with the ULTRA seat. The seat configuration, if you haven't know, could be adjusted to suit different objects you want to carry. One touch operation sets the seat flat for maximum cargo space. One pull up the seat gives you maximum vertical clearance enough for a 12 years old to stand straight up (caveat - i am assuming the 12 years old to be about 1.3m). Fold down the front passenger seat and you could possible carry that long awaited furniture from that Swedish shop.

I had my Mother-In-Law riding with us to my mum's house later in the evening and she commented that the leg space is good. Wifey sat behind and she commented that it is only falling short of my Matrix by maybe a couple of inch. Honda might achieve this by maybe installing shorter based seat, which for taller people, might be a problem as their thighs will not be properly supported and might be tired after a longer drive.
The backseat could seat 3 children or 2 adults comfortably and with an inclusion of a baby seat, it still has enough room to seat another child and an adult without anyone fighting for elbow space. It is also worth mentioning that the driver gets a Captain Seat (meaning has an arm-rest). While i am glad that this is included, it would be better if the arm-rest are also placed on the front passenger seat too. One note though, if you are driving the car in a spirited way, retract the comes into your elbow's way and might make maneuvering difficult and potentially dangerous.

Like any typical Malaysian checking car out, the regime of popping the front hood up is a "must do". As expected the car engine bay is compact with little room for you to wiggle your hands or fingers in-between. While i have no intention to see how tight the belt was, i thought to myself how difficult it will be to change a burn-out headlamp bulb due to the limited clearance. Perhaps the best way is to unclip the headlamp and remove it to do it. Takes a bit of confidence but not impossible.
And of course, the main attraction and like wearing a Purple Heart on your chest is the famed i-VTEC word on the engine cover. This sets the Man from the boys. With a hearty 88kW (or about 118hp or 120ps), this car is asking to be pushed. It is no surprise that the maximum hp comes in at high rpm of 6.6K, 900rpm shy of the redline. I am wondering if i should really test it out to see if i get the "rush".
Fingers are twitching again!
I think i had mentioned enough of this car for now. It is still new to me and as i drove it around today (already clocked close to 120km), i could already understand and feel where and how this car would or could behave. I am going to keep this channel open (or rather this blog entry open) for any of you to ask me anything...or to check out anything on your behalf and i will do so and report it to you.
I encourage current owner and potential owner to share their experiences (good or bad) as i believe this is the only way forward for improvement.
I will be driving the Jazz to Lumut tomorrow for this weekend's Powerman race. I am thinking of driving on the trunk road (or Route 5) and return via PLUS highway. That way, i could better judge how the car would perform on different road condition.
Don't worry, i am not a professional driver and I will not exceed the speed limit, or carry durians (the car is on loan mah!).
Come back to this blog from time to time for any updates and do expect a test drive/review entry next week (it won't be a technical review but more of practicality - i am carrying my Spanish Girlfriend inside the car on those foldable Ultra Seats!). Thanks for reading!
Me and my Spanish Girlfriend, Ordu.


  1. That's great Stupe, one of your longest postings. Just out of curiousity, apparently what put off potential buyers one time was the Honda spare parts costs. It is relatively higher than most others.Is it true? Honda will 'strangle' you after you've bought one, it seems.

  2. Tuan, thanks. I do have many others longer postings too. Some so long the blog trunaunciate it ;).

    Am not sure about the spare parts prices but i will put this to Honda Malaysia during the feedback session.

    If you ask me, my korean rides too is expensive if i have to change any major items.

  3. Ok, I came late into your blog. Missed the longer ones. You went into much details, it's refreshing to read.

    Regarding the costs, I supposed it would square off with the other makes, plus or minus.

    Keep the good flag flying in all of your races and give the others a run for their money.

  4. Wahh!
    Hw did you get the time to write such long post???
    But so so detailed! and in laymen terms! Lovely.. can udrstd better!

  5. KayKuala - tuan, please do not apologize. I used to write long long entry until i got busy with work. Because this entry was an "assignment", i have to be fair to the sponsor that got me the "job", so i also spend a bit more time to write lor. :)

  6. TNG - you know me la. Long winded like woman.

  7. This is a pleasant post in a stimulating line of content. Thanks for sharing this text, good way of bring this subject to discussion. Keep up the superb work!