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2018 Honda Jazz RS Review (With Video)

The Swiss Army Knife, now in hypebeast fashion.

The Swiss Army Knife, Now In Hypebeast Fashion

The Honda Jazz has always been the pinnacle of Honda’s space utilization. It’s a vehicle that, while has small exterior dimensions, its space inside says otherwise, even rivalling sedans from the midsize class in terms of legroom. Honda’s engineers are simply that clever when making a bento box on wheels. However, in a highly competitive subcompact or B-segment arena, you need more than just space to win the buyer’s hearts, and that’s where this 2018 Honda Jazz RS comes in.

Exterior

Let’s get this right off the bat. The Honda Jazz RS looks good, period. Especially in this Rallye Red color, it’s like Honda went all Hypebeast and gave the Jazz RS some street cred. It’s basically the same Swiss Army Knife I said it was before, but now doning clothes that the designer of Supreme would even be proud of. Rather than a stick-on bodykit, the Honda Jazz RS has bespoke front and rear bumpers with a faux carbon fiber pattern, plus the 16-inch alloy wheels from the VX variant are painted in a tasteful shade of black. The only stick-on part are its side skirts, and yet it just works. Whenever I walk out of the parking lot, I kept on looking back towards the Honda Jazz. Rounding up its handsome looks are a pair of LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, black painted mirrors, and a rear spoiler. The Jazz RS is basically what I would call the “hypebeast” edition of the famous hatchback.

Interior

With all the handsomeness that’s been made outside, I’m surprised Honda hasn’t made many changes inside the car, which has remained almost unchanged from when it came out in 2014. For me, it’s not a problem, as the Jazz’s interior, while lacking in character, remains the most functional in the segment. For 2018, Honda has added a few nifty details that liven up the interior. For starters, the engine start button now pulsates like the heart of a newborn child, a design detail inspired from the 10th generation Honda Civic, which is one of Go Flat Out’s favorites. Honda has also added some subtle orange stitching into the car’s upholstery. These details spice up the interior in a tasteful manner. Everywhere else, build quality is top notch. Everything feels solid and well built, and making the interior have a premium feel are its leather steering wheel and soft touch materials on the dashboard with stitching.

Space and Practicality

At just 4,035 mm long, 1,694 mm wide, and 1,524 mm tall, the Honda Jazz is a small car by any measure, but its interior has the space of Doraemon’s four-dimensional pocket. It’s amazing to see how five full-size adults could fit inside and with legroom to spare, while still having enough space to carry a weekend’s worth of luggage for all of its occupants. Whereas the Jazz’s rivals in this segment is the equivalent of economy class travel, the Jazz offers space from premium economy. And yet, its space isn’t only the Jazz’s party tricks.

Honda tells me that their rear “Magic Seats” or “ULTR Seats” are magical, and while that adjective may be an overstatement, the operation is undeniably clever. The rear seat cushions can be stowed upwards, letting you store tall items. Honda creatively calls this “Tall Mode”. The rear seats can be folded flat into the floor, making it easier to slide items through the vehicle’s interior, and Honda calls this “Utility Mode”. Recline the front passenger seat all the way back, and then fold down the right rear passenger seat down, you now have the ability to carry a freakin’ surfboard. Honda calls this “Long Mode”. Lastly, fold the entire second row, and recline the front passenger seat all the way back, and you now have what Honda calls “Refresh Mode”, and through the car’s ingenious packaging, you really often have to ask, do you really need a subcompact crossover when even the Honda Jazz offers more space than say, a Ford EcoSport and Nissan Juke?

Elsewhere, there are numerous cubby spaces and storage bins to hide your phone, your purse, or your coins. Honda has even thought of an ingenious way to add cupholders on the right side of the driver, in front of the air vents. Lastly, there’s a tilt and telescoping steering including height adjustment for the driver, which means, the Jazz will be able to fit most body types well.

Features, Safety, and Infotainment

The Honda Jazz RS is well equipped, with this RS variant coming in loaded with LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, passive entry with push button start, power folding mirrors, 6-speaker sound system, and cruise control, which I believe the Honda Jazz is the only hatchback in the segment with this feature.

The Honda Jazz also receives the latest version of Honda’s infotainment system that also appears in the City, Mobilio, and BR-V, and it’s a system that I love to use. The menus are simple, clear, and easy to understand. It’s so easy to use, one does not need a degree in Software Development in order to understand how to use the infotainment system. Additionally, connecting my phone via Bluetooth has been the easiest in this infotainment system, as it has only been an easy, single step process. Manufacturers, take note. This is how you easy an infotainment system should be.

Putting the car into reverse reveals a view from the multi-angle rear view camera, which is standard even in the VX variant. To be honest, I’ve never really been convinced in using its other angles, and this goes with the rest of the Honda line-up, because all it does is merely crop the image, revealing a video feed that makes a VGA camera look like 4K.

Elsewhere, we applaud Honda for equipping the Jazz with safety features that include six airbags, Hill Start Assist, and Vehicle Stability Assist. Though it’s good that Vehicle Stability Assist is available in two of the highest variants, we believe that any form of electronic stability control should be standard, regardless of class and price.

Powertrain

Engine and transmission choices for the 2018 model year are unchanged, still utilizing the 1.5 liter L15A i-VTEC engine that produces 120 hp @ 6,600 rpm, and 145 Nm of torque @ 4,800 rpm. Transmission choices remain the same, with this Rs variant mated solely to Honda’s Earth Dreams CVT with a 7-Speed manual mode, propelling the front wheels.

How It Drives

The Honda Jazz has always proven to be a great all rounder, and that aspect has only improved in this generation, as Honda’s engineers made incremental improvements to the Jazz’s NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness). Added sound deadening has made the car quieter inside, though tire noise is still apparent. Taking it to higher speeds, the Honda Jazz feels more planted and more stable than before, which is impressive for a car of this size. This is also complemented by nicely supportive seats. Upon first inspection, the seats look flat, but they’re actually comfortable enough for long journeys with good thigh support that you wouldn’t feel numb as you travel along on hours end. Cruise control is just icing on the cake, as it takes the sting out of long distance journeys, a feature I believe the Honda Jazz and its City sibling only has in the segment.

As with all of Honda’s engines, the 1.5 liter i-VTEC engine in this Jazz is a gem. It revs happily, as with all of Honda’s engines, and gives decent pull throughout the rev range. The CVT does a good job of performing like a traditional torque converter automatic. Put it in ECON mode though, and the CVT does drone the cabin with engine and CVT noise until the CVT finds its rhythm, and when it does, it settles down quietly and keeps the engine revs low as you cruise down the highway.

Due to that CVT though, the Jazz under my hands returns a very impressive 13 km/l average, and I swear I haven’t even been trying to be so conscious with my right feet. If you’ll notice through my pictures, it registered a 12.9 km/l but that is only because the engine was on when I took it for a photoshoot. As I drove again, it returned to 13 km/l. Impressive, and before you ask, yes, I took this to EDSA as I went to SM Megamall, granted that Waze rerouted me out of EDSA to avoid the traffic, to only little benefit in travel time.

If you do find a twisty road along your way, you’d be glad that the Jazz is a willing and capable partner. It won’t make the Mazda 2 or a Ford Fiesta loose any sleep in terms of dynamic capabilities, but the Jazz RS is capable enough that body roll is well controlled, staying flat and composed as it goes through a corner. The steering has a slight heft to it, giving the driver confidence and enjoyment to tackle through twisty roads. If only Honda added just a little more feel through the car’s steering so that you could tell what the front wheels are doing, the Jazz would indeed be among the best in class in terms of driving dynamics. For most people though, the Jazz is fun, capable, and comfortable enough for the daily commute.

On The Downside

My slight downside about the Honda Jazz would be its somewhat stiff rear torsion beam suspension. Just before driving the Jazz RS, I was driving the Toyota 86, and its rear was more composed when going through bumps and ruts. The Jazz’s rear suspension meanwhile, tends to crash and bottom out in the worst of Manila’s surfaces.

Being extremely nitpicky now, I find the center climate vents to have a hard time cooling the rear occupants. The vents are so slim, it’s also hard to adjust the direction of how the air comes out. Also, as I said in the beginning, I wish Honda could’ve done more to spice up the interior, perhaps through the addition of leather seats, but that would probably be too much to ask, as it’ll bump up the price to within only a few thousands shy of the Honda Civic 1.8 E.

Verdict

There’s no denying that this Honda Jazz RS is the ultimate Jazz experience, offering good looks, superior practicality, and competent driving dynamics. Priced at P1,058,000, it may seem expensive, but the price is within the comfort zone of what a high spec subcompact costs nowadays. However, I find the Jazz RS still hard to recommend to value-seeking buyers, not because of the Jazz RS’ price, but because the Honda Civic 1.8 E exists. For only P80,000 more, the bigger, sleeker, quieter, and more tech-laden Civic 1.8 E is already yours. Especially to those who opt for financing, the additional P80,000 can merely be distributed across the payment duration, a fact further proven by the sheer amount of Civics currently flying off dealer lots. In the end, value-seeking buyers would probably opt for the Jazz VX, which makes more sense as it shares the same basic features as the RS anyway. Think of it this way. There are a lot of Honda Jazz tuners out there that stick an RS badge to their Jazz’s trunk, and if a Jazz RS is what they want as a starting point for their tuning project, it suddenly starts to make a lot of sense. The Honda Jazz RS then, is the same Swiss Army Knife I always knew it was, now dressed in hypebeast fashion.

More Photos

Price: P1,058,000

Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Features: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Safety: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★☆☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

Overall: 4.1 out of 5

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