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Honda Jazz is here at Rs 743,000

June 11, 2009 15:46 IST

Honda Jazz is here at Rs 743,000

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Matthew Schneeberger in Mumbai

The Honda Jazz has hit the roads.

Honda Siel Cars India, leading manufacturer of premium cars in India, has finally made its entrance into the country's competitive compact car segment, with the launch of the Honda Jazz, an upmarket super hatchback model.

The Jazz, launched in Japan in 2001, and now available in over 130 countries, has sold over 2.8 million units worldwide.

Three variants of the Jazz are available: the standard Jazz, the Jazz Mode, and the Jazz Active.

The bookings for the car will start immediately at Honda's 105 distribution facilities across India.

In Mumbai, Jazz standard will cost Rs 7.43 lakh (Rs 743,000), Jazz Mode Rs 773,000 (Rs 773,000) and Jazz Active Rs 778,000 (Rs 778,000).


Image: In Mumbai, Jazz standard will cost Rs 7.43 lakh (Rs 743,000), Jazz Mode Rs 773,000 (Rs 773,000) and Jazz Active Rs 778,000 (Rs 778,000).
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Speaking at the launch, Masahiro Takedagawa, president and CEO of HSCI, said, "We've actually moved up the Honda Jazz's India launch, because of the enthusiastic response to the model at the 2008 India Auto Show."

The Jazz is being manufactured at HSCI's facility in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, with a localisation level of 77 per cent, Honda representatives said. This makes the Jazz the most indigenous of Honda's models in India, as the City (74 per cent), Civic (74 per cent) and Accord (28 per cent) have lower localisation levels.


Image: The spacious interiors of the Honda Jazz.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Honda Jazz is here at Rs 743,000

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The vehicle comes with a 2+2 years or 80,000 km warranty and 4 years' roadside assistance.

The model is available in six colours: Habanero Red, Deep Sapphire Blue, Sherbet Blue, Alabaster Silver, Taffetta White and Crystal Black Pearl.

Safety features

Like all Honda models, the Jazz comes with a set of standard safety features, including anti-lock braking system and dual SRS airbags.

It has a 4.9 metre minimum turning radius, and is 3900 mm long, 1695 mm wide and 1535 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2500 mm.

Also unique to the Jazz is Honda's 'Magic Seat' configuration, which allows the rear and front passenger seat to be moved in a variety of different directions, to accommodate tall, long or wide luggage.


Image: (Left) Masahiro Takedagawa, president and CEO of HSCI, at the launch of the Honda Jazz.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Style king

Under the hood of the Honda Jazz is the 1198cc i-VTEC specially developed for the Indian market and it matches the upcoming Bharat IV emission norms.

The Jazz also has keyless entry and steering mounted audio controls. In terms of fuel efficiency, it promises 16.1 km per litre, as per ARAI test data. The engine, newly developed by HSCI, delivers a maximum output of 90 PS (66kW) @ 62,00 RPM and Torque of 110 Nm (11.2 kg-m) @ 4800 rpm.

A distinctive honeycomb grille is matched with larger, more sharply styled headlights to create an assertive look. However, the tall boy design necessitates a raked up windscreen and high roofline.

Overall the Jazz inherits the styling of modern Japanese cars to create a sporty and dynamic form. Reflecting the sporty appeal, the mechanicals are tuned to provide a sporty, solid and dynamic driving experience.


Image: Masahiro Takedagawa, president and CEO of HSCI (Left) and Jnaneswar Sen, vice president (marketing), HSCI (2nd from right) at the launch.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Honda Jazz is here at Rs 743,000

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Space too

The Jazz is bigger in every significant dimension but it is just under 4 meters in length to comply with small car excise duty. But Honda's incredible packaging ability frees up space for occupants rather than the mechanicals.

The fuel tank is chucked under the front seats instead of regular under boot position to create room for rear passengers. The cargo space is brilliant: even when the rear seats are up, there is 399 litres of space.

The huge boot is complete with under-floor storage and flat folding rear seats at the pull of a handle. Additionally, the rear seat squabs can be hinged upwards to create a storage space in the middle of the car.


Image: The Jazz.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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The car is available in 5-speed manual transmission. Honda promises a sporty, 'peppy' drive.

Compared to the first model of the Jazz, which launched in 2001, the New Jazz (launched in Japan in 2007), has bigger front quarter windows and more leg and feet room.

In India, Honda is selling the new Jazz, which in Japan is called the Honda Fit. Honda has opted to call the model 'The Jazz' in International markets, in keeping with its tradition of using music to describe its different models, like the Accord and Prelude.

The hatchback segment currently forms about 80 per cent of the 1.5-million car market in India. Honda, eager to tap into this segment, says it will bring a second small car to India in the next 2-3 years, which will be positioned lower than the Jazz.


Image: The car is available in 5-speed manual transmission. Honda promises a sporty, 'peppy' drive.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Honda Jazz is here at Rs 743,000

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Though marking Honda's entry into the compact car segment, the Jazz is significantly more expensive than many of its similarly-sized competitors, like the Skoda Fabia, the Hyundai i20, the Maruti Ritz, and the Maruti Swift. But, according to Honda, this has been done intentionally.

"The Jazz in the same platform as the Honda City, but it has a different character," said Takedagawa.

"With the Jazz, we're trying to create a new segment in India. We're trying to break a common stereotype," added Jnaneswar Sen, vice president (marketing), HSCI.

That common stereotype, held by many Indian consumers, is that compact cars cannot be luxurious or up-market. For years, sedans (like Honda's own City model), have dominated India's high-end sales. The average Jazz driver, Honda says, will have the budget to afford a sedan, but will opt for the hatchback for reasons of convenience and practicality.

"You're getting the convenience of a smaller car with all the reliability, comfort and durability that's associated with the Honda brand," Sen explained.


Image: The Jazz in the same platform as the Honda City.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Judging by the launch and the initial advertisement campaign, Honda has positioned the Jazz as a 'cool' car for young, carefree professionals. A stand-up comedian emceed the Mumbai launch, pounding home the Jazz's tag line, "Honda Jazz -- Why so serious?"

"The Jazz is for the consumer who looks at life through a different eyeglass, who isn't bound by society's conventions," said Takedagawa.

Takedagawa added that, after a very rough fiscal year 2008-2009, he expects to see the India auto market bounce back in a major way in fiscal year 2009-2010.


Image: Honda has positioned the Jazz as a 'cool' car for young, carefree professionals.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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After stating unequivocally that the City will remain Honda's flagship brand in India, Takedagawa said sales projections for the Jazz are modest but ambitious.

To position itself ahead of the Skoda Tabia and the Hyundai i20, the Jazz's main competitors in the upmarket hatchback segment, Honda hopes the Jazz will achieve half the sales volume of its City model, which currently sells about 3,500 units every month. When pressed, a Honda official said that sales of 'between 2,000 and 2,500 cars a month' would satisfy the company.


Image: Takedagawa said sales projections for the Jazz are modest but ambitious.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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