Jazz, the feisty hauler

Everything but the kitchen sink must go

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Arriving home in Tago, Tagaytay, to deliver the goods

Arriving home in Tago, Tagaytay, to deliver the goods

No kitchen sink here but at least there’s a toilet bowl.

No kitchen sink here but at least there’s a toilet bowl.

MANILA, Philippines–Before it got on all fours, Honda went for two.

Honda was known to make motorcycles, before this Japanese marque put its unmistakable “H” logo onto the bonnet of its first four-wheeled vehicle, the tiny T360 pickup truck.

The T360, along with the pretty S360 roadster, heralded Honda’s entry into the four-wheeled vehicle market in 1962. Automotive journalist Giles Chapman remarked that, although founder Soichiro Honda’s heart lay in sports cars, in his head he knew the pickup would be a strong seller in Japan in the booming ’60s.

Last week, I was driving a Honda hatchback that comes pretty close to the hauling capabilities of the T360, the Jazz. Now don’t raise a ruckus because that’s as far as the Jazz-T360 comparison goes.

The Honda insignia also signifies innovativeness in space optimization. PHOTOS BY TESSA R. SALAZAR

The Honda insignia also signifies innovativeness in space optimization. PHOTOS BY TESSA R. SALAZAR

The T360 came to mind because the Jazz was able to accommodate 12 sizeable household items—no mean feat for a subcompact hatch.

All boxed in; human cargo can wait.

All boxed in; human cargo can wait.

In fact, interior space has been the Jazz’s clarion call. Honda has been able to maximize cargo space via its ULTR mode, which enables the car to quickly and easily adapt to a wide variety of passenger and cargo hauling needs (i.e., Utility mode, Long mode, Tall mode and Refresh mode—hence the ULTR acronym). During the launch of the newest version of the Jazz, the hatch was shown to gobble up—by turns—a bike, a surf board, a potted tree and even a fully reclined, full-grown human.

This writer was able to test this innovative space optimization of the Jazz when, over the weekend, the unit was able to take in 12 appliances and home furnishings and fixtures loaned by CW Home Depot Makati along Pasong Tamo (Chino Roces Avenue). After everything was tucked in, there was even room to spare for the front passenger, driver and perhaps even two or three sleeping bags at the rear cargo hold. Consider these goods that found their way inside the Jazz: a 2-cubic-foot refrigerator, a water filtration system, two door handle sets, a rechargeable 12-inch oscillating two-speed fan, 5-in-1 instant shower heater, a lamp shade, an electric kettle, rice cooker, blender, induction cooker, an aircon and even a toilet bowl (with water tank, mind you).

The Home Depot attendants who loaded in the items didn’t have to strain their backs either, since the rear door of the hatch swung to a wide and tall opening and the floor of the cargo bay wasn’t set low to the ground.

Two sets of door handles added to the mix.

Two sets of door handles added to the mix.

Not to ignore the looks department, the Jazz looks spunky and ready to negotiate the tight turns and squeeze into city traffic without much of a hiccup from its 1.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine. The front looks aggressive, complementing the side panel design, which connotes the motion of moving forward. Overall, the exterior doesn’t need that much aftermarket tweaking to make it look modified.

The interior amenities offer that “just right” feel, though there could be room for additional features, especially for the tag price of P948,000 for this Jazz variant (1.5L VX +). For example, the easy-to-use touchscreen and controls for the entertainment panel (touchscreen display audio, touch panel auto aircon, HDMI and USB connectivity which allows for easy pairing and connection with gadgets) could have been installed with a navigation system.

Another involves the power lock system. In this particular test unit, the doors do not lock automatically when the vehicle is in motion. Maybe an automatic locking system should be added, considering that a number of drivers and passengers easily forget to lock their doors (and what with all the precious goodies inside the cargo hold), and that this variant already offers the touch-sensor unlocking and the automatic locking system when the engine has been turned off.

A 2-cubic-foot ref is the first item on the list.

A 2-cubic-foot ref is the first item on the list.

A power-folding side view mirror mechanism could also be a nice touch.

Now, for those paddle shifters. This writer isn’t a particular fan of those contraptions (unless she plans to make Edsa and SLEx her own race circuit). On the S mode, the responsiveness of the Jazz already suffices for impulse driving. Perhaps a cruise control, instead of the paddle shifters, would have been a pleasantly surprising touch.

Plus points, of course, for the Jazz for using nonleather seats and cushions, which, aside from being cruelty-free (as no animals were harmed in the making of the seats), nonleather seats won’t turn your hindquarters into sizzling barbecue during the scorching summer. The interior materials don’t look cheap as well.

Fuel-miser button

Fuel-miser button

The handling of the Jazz was as expected of a subcompact hatch: confident, nimble and light. At times, though, it felt a bit rattling and the noise insulation can be a bit of an issue.

On economy mode, the Jazz is quite frugal on the fuel. On a 13-kilometer northbound run at Skyway (not exceeding 90 km per hour) from the Alabang toll plaza to the Buendia-Osmeña Highway intersection, this writer was able to register 23 km per liter. On another 14-km SLEx run from Alabang to the same intersection, with light traffic, the readout was 24 kpl. On a 100-km weekday drive up Tagaytay ridge (at the Mañosa-designed Tago community) from Las Piñas City and back, on moderate traffic, the Jazz went for 14 kpl.

For its price which just nearly touches the P1-million mark, the Jazz owner gets not a few creature comforts and high-tech features, such as the push start system, smart key (with the touch-sense unlocking system), steering wheel controls (for the onboard entertainment system and hands-free calls) and a center console that can store gadgets and serve as arm support at the same time.

How the Jazz cockpit looks like

How the Jazz cockpit looks like

Safety features include an antilock brake system, vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, multiview reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, emergency stop signal (all hazard lights flash rapidly during abrupt or emergency braking to alert other vehicles behind) and side curtain airbags. For the fuel-conscious, there are plenty of “reminders” in the electronic gauges at the dashboard—an Econ button (of course, colored green), an eco-coaching ambient meter and a detailed display of fuel consumption at the touchscreen display.

Verdict: Two thumbs up (even more, if our feet count) for the Jazz for reinforcing its long-running reputation as the best in its class for interior space maximization (via the ULTR mode). Two thumbs up for the look and its economy driving mode. This variant’s price tag, however, can be a bit polarizing. But then again, space isn’t cheap, especially in these parts. Interested buyers may also need to test drive the Jazz first to check the ride suspension, and make sure there’s no rattling thud over uneven roads.

Backing up into the garage

Backing up into the garage



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