Renault Clio 2008 Review
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Contrary to what many people think, motoring writing is not all skidpan slaloms through witches' hats and tearing around race tracks.
Take the Australian media's recent introduction to the new Honda Jazz, which consisted of a 60km commute through the Melbourne CBD and the city's leafy suburbs.
The Honda Jazz Urban Fuel Economy Challenge (see below) involved the second generation of the light hatchback which, since its debut in 2001, has sold more than 2.5 million around the world.
Honda says the new Jazz introduces new levels of styling, performance, driving dynamics and ride quality and, most importantly, environmental friendliness.
There are three variants—a 1.3 litre GLi and two 1.5 litre i-VTEC (variable valve timing) models, the VTi and VTi-S. All meet Euro 4 emission standards and run on 91 RON standard unleaded fuel.
Jazz GLi comes with standard power windows and mirrors, central locking and single in-dash CD stereo.
Added to this is safety equipment that includes ABS anti-skid brakes with electronic brake force distribution, dual front airbags and front seatbelt pre-tensioners, all standard. An optional Safety pack comprises side and curtain airbags, and a multi-information display which includes a speed alarm, trip computer and seatbelt reminder for all passengers. The mid-range Jazz VTi gets the larger, more powerful 1.5 litre engine in addition to side and curtain airbags, the multi-information display, a security alarm system and a vanity mirror for the front passenger. The top-of-the-range Jazz VTi-S is given the sports makeover with sport front and rear bumpers, side skirts and 16in alloy wheels.
The GLi features Honda's advanced 1.3 litre SOHC engine, (now with i-VTEC technology) to provide the best balance of fuel economy and lively performance.
It delivers 73kW of power (up 12kW) and 127Nm of torque (up 8Nm).
The 1.3 litre i-VTEC engine delivers fuel economy figure of 5.8 litres per 100km (48 miles per gallon) and produces just 138g of carbon dioxide per kilometre with manual transmission.
The GLi has a five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission, the latter unique to the segment, with Honda's Grade Logic Control.
Both VTi and VTi-S are powered by a 1.5 litre SOHC i-VTEC engine that has an output of 88kW (up 7kW) and 145Nm (up 2Nm).
Fuel economy is similarly frugal, achieving a combined 6.4 litres/100km (44mpg) and just 151g/km in manual form.
Both VTi and VTi-S are available with five-speed manual transmission and Honda's new five-speed automatic transmission, that allows the driver to change gear manually using paddles on the steering wheel (VTi-S only).
The second-generation Jazz retains the same suspension layout as the previous generation, with significant improvements incorporated to enhance ride quality, handling and agility, while upgraded power steering is standard across the range.
With flexible seating arrangements, interior space is used to best advantage. Leg room in the back is good and head and shoulder space generous.
Driving the new Honda Jazz with skill and restraint can have its rewards.
Besides feeling comfortable with the way the vehicle behaved, I and my colleague coaxed fuel consumption of 5.1 litres per 100km (55mpg) out of the 1.3 litre car and collected a prize—appropriately a Honda wallet—from the carmaker for being the most fuel efficient, and therefore economical, drivers of the 20 or so scribes on the Jazz launch.