There’s nothing like admiring the Aravalli Hills behind a glass balcony on the picturesque Delhi-Jaipur National Highway number 8. It was still sometime before the daylight was to make its appearance on the lush-green mountains overlooking the winding 6-lane road, inundated with torrential rains. I was safely tucked behind the wheel of the ‘updated’ Honda Jazz, now christened ‘Jazz X’, marking the dawn of a new style with space. We all love the way Honda cars look – an aerodynamic bundle of joy and the Jazz X is no different. The front-seats could easily have been the balcony set of the famous ‘Romeo & Juliet’ (Scene II Capulet’s Orchard).
Juliet appears above at a window
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
Is it the East, and Juliet is in the Jazz
My sincere apologies for killing the masterpiece. Well, blame it on the view from the front seats, which is overwhelmingly unobstructed. For once you start believing, blind spots are a sham. The compact exterior of the car almost camouflages you to believe it’s a small car, though inside you can host your bachelor’s party.
A long wheelbase and innovative design ensures more space than is visible from the outside. A small nose results in a tidy turning radius (4.9m), slightly better than its strongest competitor, the Fabia (5.0m). From the side, the Jazz X appears longer than what the wheelbase (2500mm) suggests. That’s the beauty of its design. An estate-like rear makes it a car for long family weekend drives with acres of space in the boot (353l vis-a-vis Fabia’s 315l) for bicycles, sleeping bags, collapsible tents, consoles and a complete drum kit.
The rear ‘magic seats’ (with 60:40 split) also include an under seat tray, offering additional storage. The fuel tank has been cleverly placed under the front seats instead of the back, as a result of which the rear of the car can be converted into a 180 degree flat-bed, encompassing 850 litres of space, just by pressing two levers. Very practical, we think!
However, a major kink in the Jazz’s armour is the rear visibility. It seems such a big flaw at times, making to seem as if the car is to be driven only in one direction. The absence of automatic Outside Rear View Mirrors (ORVMs) and vanity lights, for a car priced as high as 8 lakhs is sinful. Despite 160mm of ground clearance, the car still somehow manages to scratch almost every bump on the road.
Performance & ride
The Jazz X gets a 4-cylinder 1.2 litre i-VTEC engine, with each cylinder using 4 valves, generating 90 horsepower, same as that of an i20, or the Punto. Yet again, as in the City or the Civic, Honda shows its prowess in making the smoothest petrol engines money could buy. Though, it’s a problem of too small a heart for the size of the car. This is comparable to saloons, and for a hatch ’90’ is an astounding figure.
But somehow, the Jazz X comes across as an MUV at heart. When all seats are occupied and luggage neatly stuffed on a freeway, the car seems like an overloaded cart. Take it to the city, and this is where she rides like a dream, making all the right manoeuvres at the right time.
It’s stylish, has space, and boasts of new gadgetry, a great boot, light steering and compact exteriors. It’s also easier to park, has great fuel efficiency, a quiet engine, is well-insulated, and has comfortable seating with plenty of legroom.
Not a fun drive, underpowered on the highway, poor reverse visibility, shaky over potholes, low ground clearance, no light on vanity, no electric open/close function on ORVMs, engine refined but underpowered for a car of its size. It still is very high priced.
The Jazz X seems to have got the X Factor now, going by the blue black interiors, alloy wheels and parcel tray, but its practicality aspect, especially at the steep price is still questionable. We also wish it could get some more power to match.
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