It’s probably very cliched, however, from the moment Honda New Zealand called to see if I would be interested in taking the new Jazz RS for a spin, all I could think about was the song from the 1975 musical Chicago. Now, I’m not exactly what you’d call ‘a musical type of guy’ but I did see the movie and the tune obviously stuck and the name association obviously brought it all flooding back. So much so that in fact, I think I was even humming it when they passed me the keys ‘start the car, I know a whoopee spot where the gin is cold but the piano’s hot.’
Anyway, we’re here to talk about the car, not the song, so this is what I thought – cue the ‘muted’ Jazz trumpet solo, 5,6,7,8…
Known overseas as Fit, the Jazz is now in its 3rd Generation (since its initial launch in 2001), plus it’s had a facelift and now, for the 2020 model, Honda has upped the popular 5-door hatchback’s tech and infotainment too.
With its sub 4m length and 1.7m width, the Honda Jazz RS is a compact vehicle that’s quite simply ideal for inner-city living. But, and I can’t stress this enough, with its 1.5L ‘EarthDreams’ i-VTEC engine (97kW/155Nm), RS Sports Quick Ratio Steering and ‘magic’ seats (offering luggage space from 354L up to a whopping 1,324L), the Jazz is as versatile as an SUV and easier to park. It’s efficient too, running on 91 octane, the Jazz RS gives you 5.6L/100km and emits just 130g/km of CO2 gasses.
My model came in Milano red, it’s a striking colour, especially in the Kiwi sunlight and contrasts well with the black RS exterior accents and bodykit, however, there are seven other colour options available, some less ‘sporty’ than others.
The RS’s sporty theme continues inside with contrast stitched trim, leather-appointed wheel and gear shifter, plus well-bolstered sports fabric seats that come complete with a go-faster styling.
Overall, the interior trim is well presented and rather modern. A mixture of rugged, hardwearing and practical materials where necessary and softer, more tactile-friendly finishes where you’d like them. The compact hatch comes loaded with driver and safety aids, most of which are standard (a great reason to buy a Jazz over an imported Fit) and the 2020 Jazz now has a brand new touch screen display system with a customisable interface and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Spotify too.
Living in the ‘burbs of Auckland’s North Shore meant that much of my review of the Jazz RS was undertaken on far from the confines of the inner city, think more country than slicker. This gave me ample opportunity to get to grips with the nippy hatchback’s strong chassis and have its 16-inch alloys turning at 100km/h. In truth, it handles the open road with confidence and although a little ‘road-noisy’, it’s more than happy to go on extended runs.
The Jazz RS employs Honda’s latest evolution of the CVT transmission which according to them, provides a sportier drive with a more natural feel. I’m still not a huge fan of the way CVT’s sound but that’s a personal choice – apparently, there’s a 6-speed manual option available, although I doubt it will be very popular as gear-changing is a dying art.
On the flip-side, the Jazz does come with Paddle Shifters behind the steering wheel. It provides the option to convert to 7-speed mode (7-speed shift-able, 7-speed tiptronic, etc), allowing longer gear hold. The shift logic in manual mode delivers quicker, firmer shifts than in fully automatic mode – it’s fun for a while but I ended up just letting the CVT do its thing.
I used the Jazz RS excessively for just under a week and still returned it with a half tank of fuel. Shopping trips were a simple affair with bucket loads of cargo space that’s easy to load thanks to the hatchbacks low loading lip plus the vehicles compact size meant parking within the usually snug spaces was a doddle.
It’s nippy, efficient, spacious and now well-connected, the 2020 Honda Jazz, really is All. That.