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Honda Jazz 1.5 VTEC

Broadcast date : 7th May 2006

The so-called 1,4 litre version of the Honda Jazz in fact retains its 1339 cc capacity in the new line up. But itís the 81 kiloWatt VTEC motor with Hondaís pioneering variable valve-lift technology that will grab the attention of Honda fans.

When the Jazz was launched in mid 2003 it broke new ground in combining mini-MPV space with overall city-car dimensions. It achieved this with a very elegant shape that, to our mind, has been spoilt by the boy-racer add-ons intended to emphasise the extra power of the VTEC model.

There is an aftermarketish look to the skirts or sill extensions, which donít quite flow into the rest of the bodywork, and the same can be said for the flared out front air dam.

In any case, this Jazz uses a "cooking" version of the VTEC engine, with emphasis on torque and a redline well short of the legendary 9000 limit that has given other VTEC mills iconic status.

Honda have attempted to Jazz-up the Jazzís interior in its mid-life makeover by the rather obvious technique of adding metal-finish surrounds to some of the trim items.

These work well on the steering wheel and the major ventilation dials which retain a quality look, but the re-designed radio has flimsier knobs and a "Rapongi-by-night" look that detracts from the overall classiness.

Nevertheless the core values of the Jazz remain, and these include exceptional space and panel-fit quality.

The 30 per cent power hike provided by the VTEC motor over the 1,4 twin-plug engine gives the Jazz strong middle-of-the-road performance for a car in this price bracket.

Thereís power throughout the rev-range, but itís the smoothness of power delivery that really impresses. Somewhat strangely, Honda have not provided overall performance figures for the 1,5, but Car Torque estimates a 0-100 time of around 11 seconds and a 190km/h top speed.

A set of larger diameter alloy wheels and low profile tyres would go a long way towards fleshing out those bodywork overhangs. And also sharpen up the handling, which is vice-free and predictable, but is perhaps not as wieldy as some lower-slung hatches in this price bracket.

You have to choose between space and boy-racer pace, and in this case space still remains the Jazzís most telling selling point.

The suspension is profiled towards comfort rather than razor-sharp crispness, as high-speed running over an undulating road shows. But damping rebound control is good and thereís no wallowing effect over bumps.

Car magazine tested the original so-called 1,4 model and recorded 13,6 seconds for the 0-100, and a top speed of a 173 at the coast.

There is noticeably more urge from the 1,5 litre VTEC motor, and torque of 143 Newton metres at 4800 is reasonable, though quite high up in the rev range.

Honda claim fuel consumption levels of the 1,5 litre model should equal the 1,4 DSi, although we feel that itíll be a bit heavier on fuel, returning an overall figure in the 8 litres to a hundred bracket, depending on driving style.

Honda Jazz 1.5 VTEC
  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol
  • Power: 81 kW @ 5800 rpm
  • Torque: 143 Nm @ 4 800 rpm
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: N/A
  • Top speed: N/A
  • Fuel consumption: N/A
  • Price: R142 500
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