The new tariffs may have upset many car buyers who had thought 2004 would be the year when prices would drop. Instead, the overall outcome has been an increase in retails prices due to a combination of factors which government officials say was not the original intention. Anyway, typical of the Malaysian consumers’ mentality, the initial reaction is of anger and despair – but within a short time, that emotion fades away and for the car companies, it’s business as usual.
In any case, Honda Malaysia is not showing any signs of being disturbed by the new tariffs and shows little sign of slowing its charge in 2004. This is evident from the launch of two new versions of the Honda Jazz, the MPV brother of the popular City, at rather attractive prices for Completely Built-Up (CBU) imports.
The new Jazz 1.5 i-DSi, with a pricetag of RM93,888, is priced about just RM2,000 higher than before while an additional variant, the Jazz 1.5 VTEC retails for RM101,888. The price of the Jazz 1.5 i-DSi is ‘manageable’ for Honda Malaysia as it is made in Thailand and therefore enjoys preferential tariffs even though it is a CBU import. However, what is quite impressive is how Honda Malaysia has been able to price the VTEC version – which comes from Japan – at just RM1,888 over the RM100,000 mark.
Of the two versions, the Jazz VTEC is the one that many will surely desire and indeed, the package which it comes with is pretty good value for money. In fact, the original bodykit and 55-series 15-inch tyres (unidirectional type usually found on the Type R Hondas) are only offered on Jazz models in Japan and Australia, and Malaysia is the third country to get such a package.
The VTEC engine is a SOHC type and not the ‘hot’ DOHC version but even then, it does deliver 81 kW/110 ps of power and 143 Nm of torque, plenty for a car which weighs 1,065 kgs. It’s a pretty advance engine with features such as a hollow camshaft, ion-plated piston rings, plastic intake manifold and roller-type rockers arms.
Power delivery to the front wheels is via a 7-speed CVT (Continuously-Variable Transmission) with the Steermatic feature which allows for manual changing of gears using a fingertip pad on the right side of the steering wheel (also available in the City).
As for the Jazz 1.5 i-DSi, its engine is essentially the same as that found in the City and has two valves per cylinder with Intelligent Dual and Sequential Ignition (which is what ‘i-DSi’ stands for) to achieve optimum combustion for higher performance, better fuel economy and lower toxic emissions. The output is also the same as the City’s engine with 65 kW/88 ps of power and 131 Nm of torque (which peaks at a low 2700 rpm). The 7-speed CVT with Steermatic is also standard.
Additionally, the Jazz also has electric power steering. Using an electric motor to provide assistance for the rack and pinion system reduces power losses as conventional power steering pumps are driven by the engine.
Apart from the technical innovations, the Jazz has also received much praise for its space-efficient global platform which offers very good packaging and interior spaciousness. By having the fuel tank under the middle of the car, making the suspension units more compact and using the versatile ULTRA rear seats, the Jazz cabin has spaciousness comparable to a bigger car.
Of course, having the best design in the world (and the Jazz is certainly one of the better ones in its class at the moment) would be meaningless if occupant protection was poor. In this respect, Honda has ensured that the Jazz has class-leading safety levels. The G-CON technology in the structure of the bodyshell gives high rigidity and efficient dissipation of impact forces around the cabin. ABS (with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) is standard and the front occupants also get additional protection with SRS airbags.
In standard form, the two new Jazz versions are certainly great value for money as they have a standard comprehensive equipment list. For those who want a bit more style, Honda Malaysia also offers leather seats as extra-cost options. They are available in grey/black, red/black and black to match the seven different body colours available.
Being a Honda, you can be sure that build quality is world-class and the car will serve you well for many years to come. However, for that extra peace of mind (which also shows their own confidence in their quality), Honda Malaysia offers the Jazz with a 3-year/100,000 km (whichever comes first) as well as picks up the bill for 2 years of scheduled maintenance. There’s also the special Honda Insurance Package which includes Honda Assist (with a 24-hour emergency toll-free call centre number).
The new Jazz is available at all authorised Honda dealers and to find one nearest to you, call the Honda Malaysia tollfree line at 1-800-88-2020 or click on the Honda button at the right side of our homepage (www.autoworld.com.my.