Today saw the launch of the all new Honda Jazz and HR-V at Brooke Lodge Co. Wicklow. The third generation Jazz and second generation HR-V represent the company’s latest supermini and versatile compact SUV expanding Honda’s brand new range on offer to the Irish market.
With the end of 2015 fast approaching, 2016 is once again predicted to be another progressive year for the motoring industry with modest growth set to continue. Honda have seen sales of the new Civic and CR-V improve figures by 73% year on year marking 2015 as a significant year for the brand with the sole aim of the Jazz and HR-V to build on this success.
The first test of the day was the HR-V which would take us from Honda Universal’s head office at Browns Barn on a 70km trip to Brooke Lodge in Co. Wicklow. In the metal, the HR-V is a drastic transformation from its predecessor. The first generation was introduced in 1999, so such a change is no big surprise. This latest model takes the same versatile approach as the original albeit with a modern dynamic exterior and interior styling that comes complete with a 7 inch touch screen infotainment system and the latest in Honda’s Active Safety system. The front end gets the Japanese giant’s new signature front end as seen on the latest Civic and CR-V and in profile, it gains a coupe style roofline from front to back highlighted by a tapered rear window and hidden rear door handles, while its large front and rear bumpers emphasise its SUV robustness. Overall an attractive looking crossover.
Our test model was fitted with the 1.6i-DTEC engine putting out 120PS and mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Getting behind the wheel feels very much like the Civic with the dashboard and centre console wrapping neatly around the driver cockpit. While the driving position is slightly more elevated (100mm) than that of its smaller sibling, the HR-V itself handles quite similar to the hatchback. It feels agile and there is no lacking in pace from the punchy 1.6 diesel and body roll is kept in check thanks to a rigid chassis. It is clear that it has been engineered to make for a more enjoyable drive, but at the expense of that little bit of extra comfort you might expect from an SUV. While the interior itself offers good levels of comfort, the ride is not quite as refined as its bigger CR-V brother. The pay-off however is driving dynamics. The HR-V feels compact on the road, the steering is sharper and its lovely notchy 6-speed manual encourages you to play with the SUV more than you would expect.
Inside, the HR-V is finished to a high standard with a mix of high quality materials and contrast brushed chrome and piano black inserts down the centre console. The centre of the dash is fitted with the 7 inch touch screen complete with a slick glass ‘one-touch’ climate control panel located below. A finish that Honda describe as Japanese quality with a European finish is an accurate description. Being a Honda, versatility and robustness is high on the agenda. The new HR-V brings with it a spacious interior that incorporates their ‘Magic Seats’ fitted in a 60:40 split offering numerous configurations enabling either a flat floor layout creating 1533 litres of storage space or a vertical positon enabling the carrying of tall upright items. It also packs the largest boot in its segment boasting 470 litres complete with a low cargo floor design for easy loading.
Starting from €23,995 for the 1.5 i-VTEC the HR-V is available in three specifications SE, ES and EX with the mid-range ES expected to be the volume seller.
The trip back was saved for the all new Jazz which we first got to try out on the international launch in Frankfurt last July. Described by Honda as their ‘little giant’, the Jazz boasts more interior space than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Jazz is one of the company’s most successful models enjoying 5.5 million sales globally to date, almost 800,000 sales in Europe and 4100 sales here in Ireland to date.
In the metal, its new design looks more futuristic. At the front and like the HR-V, it incorporates Honda’s signature front end with a swooping over the bonnet design that meets the roofline continuing back toward the rear spoiler with a neat drop down to the rear bumper giving it a compact planted appearance. Inside is also finished to a high standard and it feels like a quality object from the get go while versatility and use of space is the Jazz’s ultimate party trick. Front and rear passenger room is more than generous while its ‘Magic Seat’ design combination creates a 1314 litres of space folded flat, while big vertical cavities can be created for larger upright objects. It packs a 354 litre boot as standard using every ounce of space left. It has to be experienced to be believed.
On Irish roads, the Jazz tested as fair as it did on European roads. It was composed and enjoyable to drive. Our test car was the 1.3 i-VTEC with 102PS mated to the optional CVT Automatic gearbox. A transmission that I would not spec the Jazz with out of choice. While the automatic is effective and actually more economical than the manual (4.6l/100km compared to 5.0l), the 6-speed manual gearbox is the pick for me. The VTEC does like to rev but the auto tends to make it rev more than it has to adding more decibels to your journey than necessary. The manual feels better suited to the car and makes this third generation Jazz quite a fun drive.
Starting €17,395 for the 1.3 i-VTEC with a 6-speed manual, the Jazz is available in three trim grades. Similar to the HR-V these are SE, ES and EX with the EX trim also expected to the volume seller.
In 2016, Honda expect to double Jazz sales to 300 units and aim to sell 450 HR-V’s in Ireland. These could prove to be conservative estimates with growth in the industry set to continue. Both models are now available to order from your nearest Honda dealer.
For more information visit Honda.ie
Read about our international launch drive of the new Honda Jazz here