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All that Jazz

Time for a trip around the North Shore in the new Honda Jazz

The Honda Jazz has been a familiar sight on New Zealand’s roads since 2002, building up impressive sales of nearly five million units worldwide. It’s always been an enjoyable drive – the BBC’s influential Top Gear television show reckons the Jazz “remains one of the best, if not the best, small cars on the market”.

Mid-2014 sees the arrival of the newest generation of the best seller, coming in a range of ten vibrant colours and four different models – the S, RS, RS Sport and RS Mugen. It looks edgier and sleeker than before, and features a new chassis, with a lighter and more rigid platform. Underneath, there’s new suspension and a new electric power steering system, powered by a 1.3 or 1.5, 4 Cylinder, DOHC 16 valve, i-VTEC engine.

There’s the same weighty emphasis on economy and safety, but now Honda has added a whole raft of features as standard, which sets it apart from similar cars in the subcompact class.

Inside, the driver and passenger spaces feel roomy and thanks to Honda’s clever Magic Seat technology, it’s possible to enlarge the boot space by adjusting the seats a number of ways to comfortably pack in anything from baby buggies to surfboards.

So how does it drive? A 70 kilometre round trip from Devonport to Orewa on a grey and wet midweek morning in August was handled expertly by the Jazz.

Packed with a high level of standard features, the TouchScreen, Reverse Camera, and Satellite Navigation are all clear and simple to use. The handy Hill Start Assist is a welcome aid along the many sluggish sections of the Shore’s notorious Lake Road.

Acceleration is smooth and speedy while joining State Highway 1 at Takapuna, and the car “sticks” satisfyingly to the road before pounding efficiently through Wairau Valley and beyond. A quick detour to an Albany coffee shop provides a chance to utilise one of the Jazz’s most enjoyable standard features. An intelligent camera is activated as soon as the driver puts the car into reverse, allowing the driver to see exactly what’s behind. Parallel parking has never been so much fun.

Safety has always been a touchstone of the Jazz philosophy, and every Jazz comes with Reverse Camera, Vehicle Stability Assist, and Emergency Stop Signal technology.

Once in Orewa it’s time to put that Magic Seat technology to the test and, sure enough, with a quick rearrangement of the back and passenger seats, it really is possible to fit in a surfboard.

Versatile enough to star as the family run around, the midweek commuter car or sporty leisure cruiser, the Jazz is dynamic, punchy, and above all, a huge amount of fun to drive. It also looks very cool, too. 

Review by Ben Whittacker-Cook 

Contact: Honda Cars North Shore, 148 Wairau Road, Phone 444 1489. 

by Channel Magazine