Jazz for non-swingers

A voice of dissent in the league of keen drivers

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MONTH four has been a tough one for my Jazz long-termer, though mercifully not because of any unexpected damage or breakdown. For a change.

The fact is, to look at, sit inside and drive, the Thai-built Honda supermini is the very opposite of a driving enthusiastís car, and it is constantly berated for it. Every Wheels journalist whoís driven the latest Jazz has moaned about how fussy the styling has become, how lifeless the steering feels, how loud the suspension is, and how jittery the ride can be.

I can totally see what they mean. I always find myself ironing out the silly ugly creases in my mindís eye, longing for more feel and precision behind the wheel, and wishing for a quieter and more supple chassis. And itís not just after driving the latest Mazda 2 or Volkswagen Polo, either. Even oldtimers like the Ford Fiesta and Suzuki Swift highlight the Hondaís dynamic deficiencies.

An extended drive along one of my favourite ride and handling test routes only magnified the deadness of the steering while at the same time exposing other issues, including poor wet-road braking on the eco-centric Bridgestone Turanza 175/65R15 tyres (or do we blame the switch from rear discs to drums?) and doors that actually flap in their frames over rougher surfaces.

Whatever happened to the all-pervasive Honda engineering of the past?

Yet I remain a fan of my Jazz, reminding all the doubters of its world-leading packaging versatility, strong, smooth and efficient drivetrain, seamless around-town operation, decent air-con, excellent storage, superb all-round vision, high resale, low running costs and Ė by no means least Ė incredible value for money.

To live with the Jazz is to really learn to appreciate its many plus points. After a long, hot day, you can just sit back and enjoy the sensory deprivation experience that is the effortless Hondaís forte. Like a dose of Panadeine Forte, soon the commute headache just fades into the distance. You donít even notice the tyres droning or the busy ride after a while.

So, mindful of its disappointing dynamic limitations, I remain a lone voice when it comes to extolling the VTiís virtues.

HONDA JAZZ VTi CVT

Date acquired: August 2014 as tested: $16,990 month: 2236km @ 6.6L/100km Overall: 4811km @ 6.8L/100km a Price a This m Overal

Ping the donkey

IF, LIKE me, youíre prone to speeding without realising it, the Jazzís initially annoying but now reassuring audible speed warning is a licence saver. I admit I canít figure out how to switch it off, or change it from the 60km/h setting, and I wonít check the ownerís manual until I figure it out myself so the chime will most likely stay, but I donít care.

This annoying little gadget has saved me hundreds of dollars in fines already. Probably. Thanks, Jazzelle.

MILE MUNCHER

A few rural field trips this month saw the Honda achieve a remarkable average of 6.6L/100km