Scratch that

Jazz hits a sour note again after yet another attack

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

LIVING in the city ain’t for the fainthearted, but two assaults in as many months would test anyone’s patience. And paranoia.

A fortnight after returning spotless from being repaired following a car park hit-andrun assault, 518-TXQ copped a sizeable scratch on the front-right mudguard. This time the perpetuator lost his load of piping as the Jazz ambled by a work site. So back to the panel-beater it goes.

In the three weeks between repair shop visits, the Honda undertook a couple of country runs to help it escape the innerurban warfare.

Though I initially felt the front seats would be too flat to offer much support over longer journeys, they proved up to the task.

Indeed, as an open-road cruiser, the Jazz was unexpectedly adept, its engine working away quietly at the national limit with the tacho barely ticking over 2000rpm, aided by the standard-fit cruise control and a commanding view forward.

Even the CVT continuously variable transmission – forever derided in every car it’s ever appeared in for droning endlessly at speed – responded quickly and with barely any flaring during overtaking manoeuvres.

And there’s enough torque from the Jazz’s ageing 88kW/145Nm 1.5-litre single-cam i-VTEC petrol four to make country cruising relatively effortless.

On the other hand, the cruise control’s inability to maintain its set speed on inclines, some tyre noise over coarser bitumen, and an occasional propensity to sway a little during stronger crosswinds were the only real negatives.

Watching the overall fuel consumption average on the trip computer helps wile away the time, according to my 200cm-tall partner, who fits with space to spare behind the Jazz’s natty little wheel. One 410km round trip to Lake Bullen Merri in Western Victoria saw the amazingly accurate readout tumble 0.5L/100km to 6.3L/100km.

Not bad for a boxy city runabout loaded with two geologists, their paraphernalia and subsequent (heavy) rock samples. Ah, yes, the rock lifestyle… Along with the massive bicycle-friendly cavity that results from folding the rear seats down, one of my favourite features is the easy-to-use Bluetooth audio. Not only does it stream everything from Billie Holiday to Dizzee Rascal with no fuss, the system pairs seamlessly with my iPhone’s Siri voice interface to compose and send text messages completely handsfree. That’s another handy thing to pass those long road-trip hours while still watching the road ahead.

Maybe my particular Jazz would be happier living in the country. It’d certainly be safer from random mindless damage.

HONDA JAZZ VTi CVT

Date acquired: August 2014 Price as tested: $16,990 This month: 1279km @ 6.5L/100km Overall: 2575km @ 6.9L/100km ac a m Overall

Prelude to a Jazz

JOINING the Jazz and ’77 Civic 1200 hatch in my growing menagerie of Hondas is an especially original ’89 Mk3 Prelude Si 4WS auto. Why? I want to see whether my long-termer can cut it alongside the company’s perceived late-80s golden era product.

Even with 240,000km on the odo, everything still works, including the sunroof, air-con, cruise control and Pioneer stereo cassette player. It joins another former Wheels COTY winner – a ’64 Morris 1100 – in my garage.

WORK NOT-SO-SAFE

Heavy plastic pipes and the Jazz duco don’t mix. Cue yet another embarrassing call to Honda HQ