2008 Bangkok International Motor Show : 2nd Generation Honda Jazz

The new Honda Jazz is attracting a lot of attention at the Bangkok International Motor Show, the event that Honda decided to use to launch the 2nd generation Jazz. In much the same way as the new Accord stole the 2007 Motor Expo, the Jazz did the same job for Honda at the 2008 Motor Show, with the Honda exhibit constantly crowded with visitors pouring all over the new car.

Honda Jazz

I've already reported on the Jazz a few times, so I'm not going to go into major detail here. And, although I'll save opinion until I get a chance to drive the car, I am wondering if this Jazz is a big enough step forward.

There are noticeable improvements over the previous model, and I'll start with them. First, the seats. Honda have improved the seats in several ways. First there is an obvious increase in padding, and the seats will feel much more comfortable on longer runs as a result. Secondly the rear seats can now be folded down, into "utility" mode without having to first move the front seats out of the way. This is simply due to the rear headrests folding down into the backrest in the new car.

The car has grown slightly too, but it doesn't feel much bigger than the old Jazz, which was already roomy for a small car. I had no difficulty fitting into the Jazz, and with the drivers seat moved right back along the rails, I was reasonably comfortable. (I'm around 185 cm tall.) As with the old Jazz, there is loads of headroom and the car feels much bigger than the Toyota Yaris.

The engine has also been upgraded to 120hp, up from 110hp in the old model. This might not make much difference to performance, but I suspect that it will feel snappier with the 5-speed auto box replacing the CVT. The CVT offered perfectly linear acceleration, which doesn't give the same impression of power, although it is doing a great job.


Price Confusion

Honda boxed clever with the pricing on the new Jazz. When they announced price reductions for E20 capability at the start of the year, they left the Jazz out. This allowed them to price the new Jazz, and then claim that the price was lower by as much as THB 45,000.

First, the Jazz is not cheaper than the previous model. The base model Jazz, the S MT, sits at THB 550,000 which is actually higher than the previous cheapest model. Of course the reason behind this is that the previous model had two engine options, with the iDSI being the lower cost option. That engine has been dropped.

The new top model, the SV, at THB 695,000 is 20,000 lower than the previous top model (THB 715,000). This is the only model that comes with a map reading light, audio controls steering wheel and paddle shift gear change.

The old model had steering wheel gear change buttons which could be activated to allow a 7-speed mode, and this was standard issue on the automatic models!

If you want airbags you have to pay THB 640,000. This is where things get better. The previous cheapest model with dual airbags was priced at THB 667,000, so this is a reasonable drop in price.

The Jazz V and SV models now have a integrated audio system, which is nicely done, and makes things look a bit more upmarket, but depending on your preference this might not be a good thing. The addition of a USB socket is nice though, and neatly implemented.

Material quality isn't fantastic, and some of the dash plastics feel rough around the edges, or just low grade. I'd hoped for a step forward from the outgoing Jazz, but in some ways this new Jazz feels cheaper! The steering wheel looks like it was lifted from a Civic, but has a very cheap feel to it, even on the top model.

Is it good?

Yes, and it will sell in large numbers. It is enough of a step forward from the previous Jazz to keep people interested. The styling is less female oriented, and should attract more young men, with a meaner appearance, but it is still cute enough to attract the girls. Honda is clearly targeting young people with this car, and it will do well in that market.

But, I wasn't excited by the new Jazz. I have this feeling that buyers of the new Jazz will be happy with their purchase for a year or two, and then start to feel buyer remorse, as the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta hit the market in this segment. And then they will start to wonder if they could have managed just as well with a much-cheaper Ecocar, while they still face 4 or 5 years of repayments on their Jazz.

If you are in the market for a city runabout, there has never been a better time to WAIT.

Honda Jazz image gallery from the Motor Show.