Mazda2 Maxx and Genki 2015 review
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Mazda2 at its Australian launch.
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It looks as if Honda has finally selected a forward gear again after the global financial crisis. The great Japanese car maker selected reverse as the money crunch hit then seemed to be in neutral with cars like the CR-V it developed during the tough times.
Now we have the latest Odyssey, which is great value despite a cabin that looks a lot like a chintzy 1980s Nissan, and the born-again Jazz. Next year, expect the HR-V compact SUV and Civic Type R. I say "born again" because the baby of the Honda family has a new look, lots of standard equipment and it's great value.
It's getting back to the package and pricing that made the original Jazz such a success. The bottom line of $14,990 - including standard-setting rear-view camera - is currently among the best in the business and puts rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo at $16,290 and Suzuki Swift at $15,990 into perspective.
But it's also the way the car drives. It's not as clunky as the original Jazz. It feels compliant and controlled, with an eager 1.5-litre engine, a quiet-ish cabin and a constantly variable transmission that works pretty well once you take control with the paddle-shifters.
It's also got MPV-style flexibility in the cabin
The shape of the Jazz is evolutionary and, from inside, it's a lot like sitting in a scaled-down people-mover. It has fantastic outward vision, which I can't say about most cars these days. It's also got MPV-style flexibility in the cabin, thanks to the car's signature "magic seats" - they slide and fold to provide a totally flat rear cargo area. It's great for both target customer groups: youngsters who might have a pushbike or a drum kit and retirees who are more likely to have pot plants or golf clubs.
The rest of the cabin looks good and works well, with a couple of 12-volt sockets and USB connections and spots for an iPad, bottles and coffee cup. The touchscreen works well with the infotainment and aircon but it's too big for the few features it controls.
I'm not a huge fan of the seats, which don't have enough shape or support for me, but was overruled on that side by the rest of the family. My driving time in the Jazz comes first at the press preview, then a long run on home ground, and finally an intensive drive during our Car of the Year judging.
Each time I come to the car I am impressed by the packaging and value. There is some cut-price stuff if you go looking, such as the nasty carpet in the boot and exposed screw heads under the hatch, but the car is still screwed together well.
It shapes up surprisingly well against the Mazda2, which I'd expected to be well ahead. It's not as taut as the new Mazda but has more personality and versatility.
There is some unwanted road noise on country roads and the ride can be a bit crash-bang on big potholes. The steering is good, the brakes are strong and the engine is lively and frugal.
Right now, the Jazz is one of my favourite baby cars. It doesn't feel as chunky and or enjoyable to drive as a Volkswagen Polo, but more than compensates with the rest of the deal. It's an easy pick for The Tick.
|GLi||1.3L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$6,500 – 10,010||2014 Honda Jazz 2014 GLi Pricing and Specs|
|Hybrid||1.3L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO||$8,000 – 12,320||2014 Honda Jazz 2014 Hybrid Pricing and Specs|
|Vibe||1.3L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$7,700 – 11,990||2014 Honda Jazz 2014 Vibe Pricing and Specs|
|Vibe-S||1.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$8,400 – 12,980||2014 Honda Jazz 2014 Vibe-S Pricing and Specs|