Affordable hot hatchback track test: Honda Jazz
The Honda Jazz is known for its versatility, and the new-generation model is no different. The centrally-positioned fuel tank helps liberate more cabin space while also making it a well-balanced chassis. The Jazz has always been the tuner's favourite compact, especially in Japan and USA. The culprit there and, a lot more in India, is the engine. It lacks outright power, and both the i-VTEC and i-DTEC mills don't feel like they produce 90PS and 100PS respectively. The petrol unit produces peak power and torque higher up the rev range. Add taller gear ratios to this, and the Jazz could only be fast around the corners in second gear. Shift to third and the engine loses steam but not as much as the Hyundai i20 petrol. The steering feel is better compared to the rest, and it's quite precise too. The car flows well into the corners and is very responsive when it comes to weight transfer despite the skinny 175-section tyres and slightly heavy steering. The petrol Jazz has a neutral chassis that can be provoked to either under or oversteer. The petrol is our choice when it comes to chassis feel, the diesel being heavier and lazier.
The other highlight of the Jazz that we realized after driving on the track is the car's braking ability. It offers the best brake feel among all the hatchbacks here, and one can brake much later before entering the corner. ABS doesn't interrupt at all, so this also meant one could brake harder. Vital seconds saved then, but it's still not enough for a good lap time. The Jazz petrol went on to shock us when it crossed the start/finish line, as the VBOX displayed 1m26.69s, making it the slowest car of the lot. The Jazz diesel, however, does better, despite being heavier than its petrol sibling. It's a full two seconds quicker around the 2.1km track. DTEC just kicked in yo! But when you pitch it against the other diesels, it loses out in the lap time battle. Despite having a higher top speed, it just isn't able to carry that speed around corners.
Honda Jazz technical specifications
Bertrand D'souza: Not too bad for a car that I've noticed is hugely popular with lawyers and dentists. It's for those who practice patience - unfortunately on a racetrack we have none. It's got powerful engines, but these are more attuned to operating as workhorses. Yup, if Honda spices up the drivetrain, especially getting in a better transmission and a little more power, the Jazz would drive just as impressively as that orange version looks!
Rishaad Mody: The Jazz displayed the biggest difference in chassis feel between petrol and diesel siblings in this group. The petrol chassis feels lighter, turns in better and even allows you to back it in slightly on corner entry. Ultimately, the 1.2 petrol, while better than the Hyundai i20, still doesn't have the guts for the track. The diesel is quicker but feels heavier. Despite boasting the same 100PS, it doesn't pull with the same conviction through the gears as the Ford.
All hatchbacks in our track test were running on JK Tyre Vectra tyres and were using Mobil1 synthetic oil
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