Honda Jazz Sport has bark, but no bite

At times names can fool you. When you hear sport, you envisage two pipes at the back, some oomph, some grunt without compromise on basics that drivers now crave for in a car.

Andrew Muzamhindo
Analyst

Honda Jazz is known as the Honda Fit locally, imported as a grey import from Japan. Nonetheless, across the Limpopo, Europe and Americas, it is known as the Honda Jazz.

Does the Honda Jazz 1.5 Sport tick all boxes? Read on.

Honda launched their new Jazz Sport derivative very late in 2019 and there is no doubt about; it has got a sporty look. DNA from Honda’s halo Type R has found its way down to this rather practical hatchback, and I have to say it does look the part but does it have the grunt to claim the Sport surname?

The Jazz Sport is definitely a looker. The signature Sports body-kit with red pin-striping added the cherry on the cake. It looks like a Sports hatchback and has numerous features that add to the image.

I would be remiss not to mention the rather large spoiler on the hatch which seems to be all about aerodynamics, but is, in actual fact, more about appearance than function. The 16 black mag wheels, LED head lights with integrated DRL’s, chrome and high gloss grille and a set of very sharp rear tail lamps round out the fittings that give the Jazz Sport a very aggressive on-road appearance.

The overall styling package lends itself to the type of buyer that is after that “boy racer” look, but seeks the practicality of a five-door hatchback. The only actual problem with the Jazz Sport is in the name.

If the Sport refers to the styling treatment, then Honda have it spot on, unfortunately if they were referring to the actual performance then they have missed the mark.

The Jazz Sport has a brilliant suspension that soaks up the bumps and does have an element of handling sprinkled in. It is very comfortable around town, but tackling speed bumps reveals the rear end to be slightly harder sprung as it jolts down quite hard.

The drive is much better when leaving it in the D setting on the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Putting it in S changes the CVT programming, making it hold a “gear” for way too long leading to a very noisy driving experience.

There is a way to negate this and that is to modulate the throttle, but this just kills any attempt at being sporty. Even though the Jazz Sport is equipped with paddle shifters this is merely an illusion of control and one finds oneself just ignoring them all together.

In short, the Jazz is actually quite an enjoyable drive and is very functional around town, just do not expect mind-bending performance, and on that note.

The Jazz Sport is equipped with Honda’s 1,5l, four-cylinder, NA, i-Vtec petrol engine mated to their world-famous CVT. This equates to a 0-100 time of 9,8 seconds and a top speed of 180km/h.

The engine delivers 97kW and 155Nm to the front wheels via the aforementioned CVT leading to a somewhat noisy and unimpressive sporty drive.

As mentioned before, if you are looking for a blow-your-hair-back experience, you are sadly not going to find it with the Jazz Sport. What the Jazz Sport does offer though is practicality, style and space in droves.

The Jazz Sports external dimensions of 4051mm long, 1694mm wide and 1524mm in height bely what is really a cavernous interior. It looks small from the outside but in reality, the Jazz easily holds five adults comfortably with room to spare. The boot space is generous, holding 360l of cargo with the rear seats up and over 800l with them down.

The interior is well-equipped and trimmed in a good-looking cloth material finished with red stitching. Hints of leather, piano black and chrome finalise the interior making the Jazz Sport an amazing place to spend time.

Honda has supplied a host of creature comforts such as automatic climate control, keyless entry with push button start and the seven-inch touchscreen. The 12V outlets, USB in, HDMi in and bluetooth, as well as a multifunction steering wheel complete the tech complement inside.

The infotainment looks very good, though a fiddly to use at first, but once you have it figured out makes a nice centrepiece for the dashboard.

It carries a five-star Euro NCAP rating. The Jazz Sport is equipped with the normal bells and whistles such as BAS, EBD, BAS and Traction Control as standard. Adding to that are six airbags, ISOfix and child safety locks.

From an engineering point, the Jazz Sport has rear tail lights that flash under emergency braking and is equipped with disc brakes all around, unlike the standard Jazz that has drums fitted in the rear. Tech-wise, the Sport is fitted with rear parking sensors and a rear camera to assist with those tricky parking manoeuvres and a digital multi-info display in the driver’s binnacle to let you know how the vehicle is doing.

Honda’s consumption figures on the Jazz Sport, of 6,5l/100km, are attainable, but lofty. If you modulate the throttle and drive slowly you can get to those figures, I would, however, say that those figures will only be truly reachable on the open road and not in a city environment where one would be riding the CVT, trying to get as much out of the vehicle as possible.

On test, we returned figures closer to 8,6l/100km and we were trying to be conservative due to the nature of the CVT and its driving modes.

As a whole, the Jazz Sport is a great car, it is styled immaculately, has a stunning interior and if handled correctly, is a cracking drive. If you are looking at one, I would suggest putting any thoughts of Sportiness out of your mind and settle for the fact that you will have a car that has all the bark and no bite.

There are a multitude of vehicles that can do things better than the Jazz such as the Suzuki Swift Sport, Volkswagen Polo GTI and Opel Corsa GSi. These vehicles all do one thing very well, whether it be handling, space and comfort or outright performance, but the Jazz Sport seems to be a jack of all trades that is priced well against its peers and looks good as well.

Specifications

Engine capacity: 1497cc;

Number of cylinders: 4cyl;

Fuel type: Regular unleaded petrol;

Fuel tank capacity: 40L;

Fuel consumption: 6,5L/100km;

Maximum torque: 155Nm;

Maximum power: 97kW; and

0–100: 9,8 seconds.

Email: andrew@muzamhindo.com