Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Honda Jazz: New Dud, Used Stud

The Honda Jazz was a peppy, compact yet large hatchback offered by Honda. It was the only hatch Honda offered before the Brio. Created with headroom, leg and boot space that would put sedans into therapy and a robust 90 bhp engine that hit 160kmph with as much ease as it chugged at 40kmph in the city. The “why so serious?” car was a brilliant city hatch mixing the best of the sedan and hatch worlds.

All this praise however, draws one question. Why didn’t the Jazz take the segment by storm the way the Swift or i 20 did? Any owner would tell you that this was great whether you drove it yourself or had a chauffeur. The primal reason was its price which just happens to be the biggest deal-breaker in India as you look at your budget and adjust the car rather than vice-versa. With all those similarities with sedans, came an almost similar price. Towards its final years in production it cost around and above Rs 8 lakh on-road {Mumbai}. At that price if your car didn’t come with a boot that you could make your kid sit on, you didn’t have a buyer.

So was the Jazz worth the price it came for? Well, it had the space for it and it was definitely backed up by the finest in Honda’s refinement. I mean the 1.2 i-vtec was so silent, you would be forgiven for thinking it ran only on lithium ion batteries. Power steering, power windows, abs, two front air-bags, music system and an aux port came in standard, but then again for the price you had to pay it was the least Honda could do.

That is where the problems for Honda began. The space in the car made it a mini-innova which wasn’t what a buyer wanted while buying a hatchback. Unless you wanted a city car for a family of 6 footers you had more reasonable options if not better. Hyundai and Maruti met the main needs of enough space, enough power, enough features, good service back up and resale value. Skoda and Volkswagen had the premium feel and European design, while the Jazz had something of an identity crisis. There were more issues that it down, like the fact that there was no diesel option while competitors offered diesels at the same price as the petrol powered Jazz. The ground clearance meant speed bumps and the under-carriage became bed-fellows not to mention the hard suspension that was on some level necessary. Owing to its large size the 90bhp engine felt inadequate and the front engine, front wheel drive car under-steered quite evidently when you decided to floor it.

Eventually Honda discontinued the jazz in mid-2013, which is sad because this car really is great. However, this has allowed it to become a king in the used car market. You can pick one up for around Rs. 4 lakh! That’s around half the price and since it’s a Honda the engine is most likely to be in great condition. The Jazz is one of the best in terms of value for money in the used car market. Even the addition of a cng kit leaves you with an ample amount of boot space. The car fits a family of 5 with ease and is excellent for the weekend road trip as well. While cars like the Swift become benchmarks they command a higher resale value. The jazz however offers more than you could need and while it loses out on rebate for its sellers it has become a juicy deal for buyers.

The Jazz was discontinued temporarily to make way for its latest edition that will be offered with a 1.5 litre i-dtec engine. Which means 2014 will see the big hatch returning with a vengeance and could well replicate the dominance its big brother the Honda City showed. Till then, hit those used car lots and buy ‘em before they’re sold out.

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