Honda Jazz Sport hits a flat note

I wish to register a complaint. I have a problem with the manufacturers of flu medicine. Like politicians and rich pastors, they make a living by selling insincere promises. I know this to be a fact, via hugely painful and expensive personal experience.

I recently managed to contract flu. It happened on a windy Saturday at the Zwartkops Raceway, when I realised my throat was beginning to feel scratchy. Being stuck at my post, I could not do much about it.

By the time I managed to find an open chemist on the Sunday morning, it was too late. I had a dry cough, runny nose, sore throat and pounding headache. Forget about child birth, this HURT. No problem, I thought, walking through the chemist’s flu medicine isle.

There was a bewildering range of medicines, promising, between them, to soothe my throat, disperse the mucus in my lungs, dry up my nasal passages, take care of my fever and see me generally ready to kick butt. Lies – all lies.

The medicine – that collectively cost about the same as a medium-sized house – did absolutely nothing. After two weeks of abysmal suffering, I slowly started to feel better – doubtlessly brought on by the water with which I drank the pills. So, to the marketers of flu medicine, thank you for the expensive square root of bugger all. All of which is a strange way to introduce a test vehicle.

The Honda Jazz 1.5 Sport recently test drove also made promises it could not keep. It looks potent, you see. Honda have decided to bedeck their premier Jazz model’s streamlined profile with a wide array of sporty stuff, like glossy black 16-inch alloy wheels in 185/55R16 rubber, a bold rear spoiler and diffuser, plus a wide air dam at the front – all, they say, inspired by the Honda Type R.

The result is a sporty looking, attractive vehicle. Adding further to its appearance are LED headlights, daytime running lights and halogen fog lights, plus piano black side mirrors. Inside, it boasts comfortable fabric covered bucket front seats, tip and telescopic adjustment for the leather covered steering wheel, electric windows and side mirrors, automatic air conditioning and cruise control.

The infotainment has a multi-information display, a radio and CD player with a touchscreen display and six speakers, Bluetooth, plus auxiliary and USB connectivity. Active safety features include ABS with EBD for the front disc and rear drum brakes, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, reverse parking camera, parking sensors and a high mounted LED brake light.

Should you still manage to crash it, you can call on a hugely rigid body, front, side and curtain airbags, plus pre-tensioners for the front seatbelts to keep you healthy.

In terms of security, it boasts an alarm, immobiliser, remote keyless entry and an automatic door locking system when the car starts moving. Sadly, it has a space saver “Marie biscuit” spare wheel – perhaps this writer’s biggest pet hate in the automobile field.

The Jazz 1.5 Sport is powered by a four-cylinder, 1 498cc, direct injection petrol engine, that produces 97kW of power at 6 600rpm and 155Nm of torque at 4 600rpm. This gets fed to the front wheels via a seven-step CVT system, which is where the Jazz failed to match its sporty exterior.

The VTEC badge used to come with serious performance – as witnessed by a number of 1 800cc VTEC powered Civics still racing and winning in local Hot Hatch club events. The Jazz has no racing aspirations.

It suffers the debilitating combination of an engine that needs to be vigorously revved to produce meaningful grunt, plus a CVT that sets out to prevent high revolutions. It all produces jerky progress in traffic and an inability to coast at 120km/h on the highway, without the system snatching a lower gear at the merest hint of an uphill. Frustrating, in a vehicle which has looks that promise invigorating performance.

Maybe I am just ham-fisted, and Honda Jazz buyers will not notice their vehicle’s tendency to swap cogs without good reason. Honda say the Jazz 1.5 Sport will accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in under 10 seconds and reach a top speed of 180km/h and we have no reason to disbelieve them.

The test vehicle returned an average fuel consumption figure of 6.7l/100km – reasonable, considering I made no effort to try and save fuel. The Jazz Sport will set you back R322 200, which includes a five-year/200 000km warranty, a four-year 60 000 km service plan and three years of AA roadside assistance.

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