It’s the over-performing, big little car with a magic trick up its sleeve.
The team at Bay of Plenty Honda threw me the keys to the Honda Jazz RS this week. A sporty little red number with some extra pizazz in the Jazz styling.
I didn’t quite know what to expect because what is the Jazz exactly? Who uses them and what for?
So I threw myself into the very comfortable bucket seat and felt immediately at home. The leather steering wheel felt good in my hands. The hill start assist made the take-off up and out of the yard into Elizabeth St a breeze.
It is Tuesday but I felt like a Sunday drive so headed down the motorway and over the harbour bridge, wending my way through the industrial area to Pilot Bay where I stopped to check this car out a bit more thoroughly.
People should always jump in the back seat before making a car purchase. It gives you a different perspective and an idea of space. And space is something the Jazz does very well. Its special magic is the ability to conjure up space. Think Dr Who’s Tardis.
Leg room is very good in the back seats and tall people will have no issues there. The boot will still take a decent amount of luggage but once you start adjusting the cabin configuration, things get a little funky.
For starters, the rear seats fold flat and the front passenger seat folds all the way back. This basically means you can fit a surfboard inside pretty comfortably.
With the rear seats folded flat, you also have a nice big storage compartment.
But, just to add to the versatility, the rear seats can also fold up vertically giving the option of a big storage space for those awkward, tall items.
The doors open extra wide, so you can really take advantage of that extra space. And the boot opening is also nice and big.
In fact, with all of these cabin configurations you could actually fit a small jazz band and all of its gear in one trip. Honda calls this set-up ‘Magic Seats’ and I can see this becoming a popular feature in many cars in the future.
The interior is finished off with stunning orange detailing and stitching, a leather steering wheel and gear shifter and sports alloy pedals. On the outside you have a sleek, aerodynamic shape, complete with 16” RS alloys.
The dash is big and deep with two extra little triangular windows in the very front corners that are designed to reduce front blind spots, but also add to the sharp styling. Visibility is fantastic with a small hood, big windows and a reversing camera to boot.
The RS has the 1.5 litre VTEC engine and this is a great power plant for a car that weighs in at a slender 1066kg.
Using Honda’s EarthDreams CVT transmission is the low stress way to drive but it does have a sports mode and seven-speed paddle shifters for the full driver’s experience.
The suspension is naturally firm and sporty and I was pleasantly surprised when I shifted from normal mode to Sport mode.
Using the paddle shifters means you can hold those gears longer and generally just dictate the pace and acceleration a lot better.
Having said that, most people will be pretty content with the CVT auto most of the time. The latest generation CVT has a more natural, sporty feel to it and it affords excellent fuel efficiency at just 5.6 litres per 100km.
This car has all the ingredients you need for the Bay of Plenty lifestyle, all at a very competitive price. It is a small car with class-leading space and performance.
You can pair your phone up using Android Auto with Google Voice Search or Apple Car Play. This allows you to mirror your messages, Spotify and Google Maps onto the 6.8” stereo touch screen.
The Jazz has a lot of Honda’s advanced engineering and safety features including vehicle stability assist which helps the driver stay on the road in adverse conditions. It helps avoid over and understeer.
The smartest safety feature in the Jazz RS is City Brake Assist. This radar sensor operates under 30km/h and will apply the brakes automatically if the driver does not react in time. Entering roundabouts or busy intersection around town is where most of these nose-to-tail accidents tend to occur. This system also incorporates False Start Prevention. The Jazz RS will disable the accelerator if the driver accidentally presses the gas pedal, instead of the brake, when parked up.
The new Jazz is lighter and stronger than older models making handling more responsive and improving the safety of driver and passengers.
LED headlamps and running lights complete the modern Jazz.
I’m a total fan of this car. It really does deliver a lot for its size and price tag. The new RS styling and the big boot means you can back up to the beach, pull out the picnic and enjoy the good life, in style.
To check one out for yourself head to Bay of Plenty Honda at the bottom of Elizabeth St.
Model: 2020 Honda Jazz RS
Engine: 1.5l DOHC i-VTEC
Transmission: CVT auto or six-speed manual
Power: 97kw or 132hp
Torque: 155Nm @ 4600rpm
Price: From $25,990 + ORC