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Jazzing around in the HONDA JAZZ SPORT


The Honda Jazz is intended to be comfortable, practical and reliable – qualities not usually associated with terms such as ‘compact pocket-rocket’. Now though, it has gained some lean-muscle and morphed into something best described as a lukewarm hatchback. MONIQUE VANDERLINDEN took the Jazz Sport for a spin to see if it’s deserving of its sporty title.

First things first: Honda’s Jazz Sport is by no means a domesticated version of the tarmac-attacking Civic Type-R. Instead, the Japanese marque injected its Jazz with a dose of testosterone, making it slightly angrier and less polite than say the Elegance derivative of the Jazz.

Did Honda manage to capture the essence of the Civic Type-R in this more compact and affordable package?
At first glance, it certainly looks that way. The Jazz Sport features a similarly aggressive low-slung silhouette stance to that of its Type-R sibling, paired with an equally antagonistic grille and bottom air-intake. It’s even more aerodynamic than the run-of-the-mill Jazz range with an aggressive front splitter and rear diffuser. Both these bumper garnishes are detailed in a Type-R specific pinstripe.

Honda has always had an ace up their sleeves when it comes to building functional interiors. In the case of the Jazz Sport though, they managed to perfectly incorporate some of that R-enthusiasm, without losing any of the functionality. While it may seem too conservative for some, we like some of the subtle details added to the cabin. The red stitching added to the seats and leather-trimmed steering wheel provides an air of sportiness, not to mention the bright-red illuminating Stop/Start button.

The list of standard kit like the easy-to-use 7” infotainment system, reversing camera and cruise control is quite generous, but, we would prefer to have leather seats fitted as standard, considering the hefty asking price of R310,000.

So, it has a pleasantly understated interior, and its equipment levels are reasonably good, but does it still have that space the Jazz is renowned for? To keep its exterior dimensions compact – while also retaining maximum interior space – Honda retains its smart “Magic Seat” system. This allows all passengers to have generous legroom, with more than 350 litres of packing space left in the luggage compartment.

Driving the Jazz Sport is a uniquely refined experience that we rarely encounter on sporty hatchbacks. It rides like a sporty hatchback when it matters, thanks to Honda’s adjusted suspension system, but it can also settle down and be comfortable around town.

Performance-wise, the high-revving 1.5-litre naturally aspirated VVT engine produces 97 kW of power at 6,600 r/min and 155 Nm of torques at 4,600 r/min. Despite its constant need to be pushed high up the rev spectrum, the Jazz manages to strike a balance between power and frugality.

The Jazz Sport is only available with the belt-driven CVT automatic gearbox. While Honda has added gearshift paddles to increase responsiveness, we are somewhat disappointed that the carmaker doesn’t offer its sub-compact sports hatch with any manual gearbox options.

It’s not uncommon for makers of hot-hatches to offer these slightly middle-of-the-spectrum sporty hatchbacks as alternatives to its 200kW+ tyre shredders. Opel has done it with the Corsa Sport (R286,600), Renault graced the world with the Clio GT-Line (R267,900) offering and so too has Peugeot with its 208 GT Line (R259,900).

So, what’s the point then of the Honda Jazz Sport? It has a sticker-price of R310 000, making it the most expensive of the bad-attitude bunch, and it’s not even the most powerful – the Corsa Sport sits on the power throne with 110kW under its bonnet.

The Sports version then is the halfway point between the regular Jazz and the Civic Type-R, coming together in a high-revving concerto of practicality. Was this pulled off effortlessly? Well, it all depends on whether you favour functionality over athleticism. If so, the Jazz Sport should not be overlooked.


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