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September 9, 2014

Review: 2014 Honda Jazz 1.5 VX+ MUGEN

Photos by Ulysses Ang
There are hatchbacks and there is the Honda Jazz. From Generation One, the Jazz has always been known for combining a sharply styled body, stellar frugality, and mind-blowing interior packaging. Most importantly, it has made small hatchbacks cool again. Since then, a handful of competitors have entered, each outshining the Jazz in one aspect or another be it in terms of price, handling, interior technology or frugality. Nonetheless, the Jazz is still regarded as the most well-rounded hatchback of the bunch. And coming from that, here is the all-new, 2014 Jazz—a car that’s far better than its predecessor and one that simply towers ahead of the entire small hatchback segment.

Visually, the Jazz now loses what’s left of its cutesy styling in favor of something definitely more aggressive and modern. By and large, the new look works, especially in drawing attention. On more than one occasion, people commented on how great the Jazz looked (and take note, these are people from all walks of life from young professionals to gasoline station attendants). Employing Honda’s new design language, Exciting H!!!, the Jazz carries an unmistakably futuristic vibe, especially when viewed from the front. At the side, a strong character line rises dramatically on the front door and broadens from a point to a channel as it goes further up the Jazz’s profile. It’s a risky design cue, but one that definitely emphasizes the wider rear fenders. The Jazz looks less like a small MPV and more a proper sporty hatchback with a sweeping roof line. The back is perhaps the only fussy part of the new design. There are a lot of things to swallow from the split tail lamps to the faux brake ducts that look more like boosters.

Along with the sportier design, Honda is now offering a fresh crop of lively colors that work rather well with the Jazz’s funky character. The Vivid Sky Blue Pearl for instance, helps draw attention from a mile away and set it apart from the sea of other sub-compact offerings. This particular test drive unit is also equipped with a prototype MUGEN body kit (available starting third quarter of 2014) that adds a dose of aggression to the Jazz’s design. For an additional P 400,000 (yes, as in four hundred thousand pesos), the Jazz MUGEN gets you unique front and rear bumpers, a larger rear spoiler, two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels with 205/45R17 tires, LED projector fog lamps with daytime running lights, carbon fiber side mirror covers, hydrophilic side mirrors with turn signal repeaters, and illuminated side sills. That’s certainly a lot of cash and one you’re probably better off not plopping down for.

Like the Jazz’s aggressive but sometimes fussy exterior, the interior swaps the purposeful design for one that’s sophisticated, tech-laden, and confusing at first glance. The hard-wearing chunky plastics (now of better quality) are met with piano black accents, aluminum highlights, and even faux leather on the dashboard with faux stitching. Again, this is purely a love-or-hate thing, but at least Honda still gets the ergonomics right. The new Jazz’s cabin is much more driver focused with everything canted towards the driver. The clustered, two-tier layout is lovely and easy to use. Like the City, the Jazz comes with a 7-inch touchscreen that controls most functions including audio, Bluetooth telephony, and vehicle settings. Though touchscreens are generally not the best interface for tactile operation, the large icons and understandable menus make this an exception.

Priced at P 948,000, the Jazz 1.5 VX+ is certainly far more premium priced than ever before, but it more than makes up for it with better fit and finish, higher equipment levels, and the added safety technology such as six airbags, electronic stability control, and a rear parking camera with dynamic guidelines. It’s also some P 22,000 cheaper than the comparable City 1.5 VX+. However, looking through the specification sheet reveals that the savings is due to the fact that the Jazz isn’t equipped with even an ounce of leather. Not even on the steering wheel.

Cowhide or no cowhide, the Jazz’s single greatest competitive advantage remains untouched by its competitors: its functionality. Despite having dimensions comparable to its predecessor, the Jazz’s rear legroom grows some 122 millimeters—imbuing this sub-compact with as much legroom as an Accord. Combine that with a more upright seating position and you’ll find the rear seats to be extremely spacious. The seats, front or back, are comfortable with the right amount of support. The undisputed star of the show, however, remains the ULTR Seats that enables the Jazz to swallow almost any kind of cargo. In ‘Utility’ mode, the rear seats can fold in a 60/40 split to carry bulky objects such as luggage or groceries; in ‘Long’ mode, the front seat folds and forms a pass-thru to the backseats enabling the Jazz to swallow long times such as a surf board; in ‘Tall’ mode, the rear seat cushions fold up enabling it to fit high and sizable payloads such as plants; and finally, in ‘Refresh’ mode, the front driver’s seat and rear passenger seat form a continuous piece for a quick catnap on the road.

Elsewhere, the Jazz is fitted with an upgraded powertrain featuring some Earth Dreams technology. The 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC engine is largely carried over from the previous Jazz down to its 120 horsepower, 145 Nm output. Thus, you’ll need to dig at the accelerator to get some decent pace. As long as you don’t jab the throttle, it progresses with minimal lag. Floor it though and the CVT buzzes momentarily before smartly maintaining engine revs. The benefit of the wide ratio transmission though is very evident in the Jazz’s newfound fuel economy which is stellar: 13.83 km/L (10.1 km/L city, 17.8 km/L highway). The figures would have certainly gone higher if equipped with a less aggressive wheel and tire set-up. Likewise, Honda has improved the Jazz’s NVH isolation remarkably making it much quieter in terms of engine, road, and wind noise. Perhaps the only exception is tire noise and this is again down to the more aggressive wheel and tire set-up.

More than just quieting down the Jazz, Honda has also managed to address the biggest problem of the previous model which is poor long distance touring ability. The new Jazz trades some of its point-and-shoot directness for a much more comfortable ride. The Jazz’s suspension absorbs most road imperfections before it reaches the cabin. It feels remarkably softer than before going through bumps and there’s no degree of crashiness whatsoever. At higher speeds, it feels much more stable through crosswinds and undulating roads. On the flipside, as the straightaways turn to corners, the Jazz doesn’t like switchbacks despite the quicker, crisper steering. The Jazz also doesn’t like sudden dips which cause the rear suspension to load weight oddly. Braking feel is also fine but initial pedal feel could use some work.

The all-new Honda Jazz remains the small hatchback hero. Although it does trade some of its sharp driving characteristics for a more compliant experience, it does manage to beat out the competition in being the best all-rounder. With the previous model, it has already trounced its rivals in terms of functionality. And now, the all-new Jazz simply sets the bar in terms of refinement, on-board technology, and of course, packaging. In addition, it does look much nicer too.

2014 Honda Jazz 1.5 VX+ MUGEN
Ownership 2014 Honda Jazz 1.5 VX+ MUGEN
Year Introduced 2014
Vehicle Classification Sub-Compact Hatchback
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Hatchback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration NA
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 120 @ 6,600
Nm @ rpm 145 @ 4,800
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control No
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 3,955
Width (mm) 1,695
Height (mm) 1,525
Wheelbase (mm) 2,530
Curb Weight (kg) 1,084
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires 205/45R17
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, Reverse Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Auto Lights No
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 4
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. P400,000 for mugen accessories?! What were they thinking?!!

    The jazz looks better in stock form anyway.

  2. For a total of 1.348M, I'll go for the XV with some change left over.

  3. oh man..thats just too almost costs civic mugen..

  4. Maybe those body kits were made from gold? Hahahaha...

  5. 400K!? Body kits are not even carbon fiber. Only the side mirror cover.

  6. when this jazz mugen be available?

    1. Bakit? Magpapaloko ka sa honda at bibili ka ng mugen nila? Haha.

  7. this jazz mugen kit i understand includes the tires and 17 inch wheels.

  8. Keep that mugen kit experimental.. Not worth it.

  9. Sir Uly between Jazz and City which of them has the bigger rear legroom? Is it the same? Which has more comfortable ride?

    1. The City has more comfortable seats at the rear and better ride than the Jazz.

    2. Based on the wheelbase alone, the city has more than the jazz.

      City - 2600mm
      Jazz - 2530mm

      A longer wheelbase usually translates to a larger space at the back.

    3. Though it's true that a longer wheelbase usually translates to more interior room, that's not always the case. That said, the City does have slightly more room compared to the Jazz...but not much.

      I agree with the two other responders here that the City has the softer, comfier ride. The Jazz though is much more engaging and is sportier.

  10. Civic 1.8 E Modulo P 1,118,000
    Civic 2.0 EL MUGEN P 1,368,000

    and then here comes Jazz 1.5 VX+ MUGEN which is......


    like..WOW!..just for 20,000 pesos more i can already get a civic mugen..

    man!..what the F is going on honda?

    1. They must be high on drugs when they came up with that kind of pricing.

  11. this review made be buy a VX Jazz. thanks to Carguide !

  12. This is just my opinion. If you have the previous jazz 1.5L, I think it's not worth upgrading to this current version. Same goes with the city, if you have the previous top of the line model, I would not suggest getting the new one. I feel the previous models were already sufficient for the needs of most people.

    But if you're looking for a decent subcompact, the current offerings of honda is worth a look.

  13. You should have review on 1.5v manual seems that the reviews were all in top variants..please..thanks!!which do you thinks is better?jazz 1.5v or the accent hb mt?

    1. Don't pick the korean car. No offense meant to owners but I really have trust issues with their build quality. A lot of people would say that the korean cars today are of high quality and well, to tell you the truth, that statement is complete bullshit.

  14. Honda says it's "All-New" but if you look closely its still uses the same body as the previous model. Same as with the City. Now there just importing these Mugen parts for that are way too overpriced. C'mon Honda you can do better than this.

    1. You're wrong. It is an all new body. Just look at the wheelbase, its longer than the old models. Also look at the panels, they're placed differently. They may look similar from the previous models but it doesn't mean that they're not new.

  15. Ginagago tyo nang mga marketing nang honda. Ulol!

  16. 400k for feeling golden piece of crap upgrade that can be done better for less than half the price.

    1., how much are the tires and 17" wheels if one were to buy?


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