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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: 2018 Honda Jazz RS

For the longest time, Jazz buyers would add a trunk badge that reads: “RS.” Whether that particular mod really adds five more horsepower is something best discussed for another day, but it just goes to show you that “Honda” and “sporty hatchback” sound like a match made in heaven. As Honda managed to get back into the sporty groove, they’ve begun to formally introduce the RS trim to the Filipino consumer. From the Mobilio to the Civic, and now the Jazz, here comes the Road Sailing (yes, that’s what it means) treatment.

Costing P 80,000 more than the mid-tier VX Navi variant, the Jazz RS isn’t mechanically changed in anyway. It’s got the same engine, the same transmission, and heck, the same suspension set-up down to the 16-inch alloy wheels. With the exception of the LED headlight upgrade, it’s purely an aesthetics job and yet, you’re inclined to forgive Honda just because it looks good. The unique RS bumpers, grille, side skirt extensions, and tailgate spoiler all work to enhance the chiseled lines of Honda’s sub-compact hatchback. Of course, the counterargument here is that this upgrade over the VX Navi is frivolous. And that’s a legitimate reason too, so the bottom line here is: how much are you willing to pay for better looks?

Inside, the 2018 Jazz is largely carried over from 2014 and that leaves one feeling somewhat disappointed. For sure, the build quality is up to snuff and the driving position is still sublime, but there’s also this gnawing feeling that Honda could have done better. All that effort was concentrated on making the exterior look good that the interior just lacks character. It looks too similar to the City, Mobilio and BR-V. Die-hard fans will point out that the Jazz RS does gets some orange stitching, a leather steering wheel, cruise control, power folding mirrors, additional speakers, and a revamped infotainment system, but there’s still no “wow factor.”

Despite its bland interior, the Jazz does offer one competitive advantage that makes it the best sub-compact hatchback around: functionality. Screw character, if you need a practical day-to-day small hatchback, you’re looking at the best one right here (well, okay, maybe not the RS variant per se). And though there are some footwell protrusions here and there, what other small car out there can boast of legroom rivalling an executive sedan? Plus, the ultra-flexible ULTR Seats can actually shame a compact crossover. 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; 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.

Thankfully, there’s no reason to feel like taking a catnap in the Jazz. Mechanically, it continues unchanged for 2018 and this means it’s still got a 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC engine mated to an Earth Dreams CVT transmission under that stubby hood. It’s a smooth and rev-happy motor that’s willing and capable for the daily commute. For as long as throttle inputs are kept sensible, it’s quiet and economical. It can achieve 9.7 km/L in the city and up to 17 km/L on the highway. On the other hand, lead-footed drivers may find the driving experience different. Although the CVT matches the engine revs well, it’ll also momentarily fill the cabin with a strong mechanical drone before getting to a nice, even rhythm.

Now, the biggest Achille’s heel of small cars would normally be long distance driving, but that’s not the case with the Jazz. It does trade some agility through corners, but it feels far more comfortable too. The seats may look flat, but they’re supportive even for multi-hour drives. The seating position is also on the low side, but visibility is good thanks to the large greenhouse. Furthermore, the Jazz’s already good levels of NVH has been upped even more for 2018. And while the difference isn’t night and day, it can be felt. Plus, at higher speeds, the Jazz is as stable as a large car, tackling crosswinds or uneven highway roads with poise. The standard cruise control function also helps as well.

At P 1,029,000, the Jazz RS comes well loaded. Aside from the features already mentioned, it’s got 6 airbags (unique to this variant), electronic stability control, a rear parking camera with dynamic guidelines, and speed-sensing door locks. In fact, give it leather seats and it would have been the complete package. But there’s also the rub. Opting to have leather seats done would probably bump up the price by around P 50,000, and in doing so puts the Jazz RS within striking range of the bigger, cushier, more powerful Civic 1.8 E.

As it stands, the Jazz RS is the full-cream Honda Jazz experience. And while it’s great for Honda epicureans or those who want to experience a genuine Road Sailor, the sensible and practical ones out there may find the flavor just a bit too rich. That extra shot of sportiness may end up being too bitter for the wallet. Although the RS is the definitive Jazz variant out here, the mid-tier VX Navi remains the most balanced of the bunch.

2018 Honda Jazz RS
Ownership 2018 Honda Jazz 1.5 RS
Year Introduced 2014 (Refreshed: 2017)
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 Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 120 @ 6,600
Nm @ rpm 145 @ 4,800
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.74 km/L @ 13 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,035
Width (mm) 1,694
Height (mm) 1,524
Wheelbase (mm) 2,530
Curb Weight (kg) 1,085
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Struts
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Bridgestone Turanza ER370 185/55 R 16 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, with Reverse Camera
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
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, with Fold
Climate Control Automatic
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. The old VX+ had all the safety bells and whistles, and was below PHP 1m. Good value.

    Shame that Honda bundled them airbags with the nonsense body kit on this refresh.

  2. Still drum brakes, same old engine, no real innovation. Other competitors are innovating while Honda isn't. Toyota is innovating in hybrid/electric cars while Mazda is innovating in the compression ignition Skyactiv X as well as moving upmarket while remaining relatively affordable.

  3. car with an attractive design and seems can be a good choice

  4. Sir Uly,

    Looking to purchase either a Honda Jazz MT or Mazda 2 MT for city driving to work. I already own a Toyota Innova but am looking for a fun daily driver. Which would you recommend?

    1. I haven't tried the MTs of both models, however, from what I know...the Jazz MT offers better equipment than the Mazda2 MT.

    2. You get all discs on Mazda 2. 6 speed MT as well.Digital tachometer and push button engine start are basic features.

      The Jazz has 5-speed, and drums on the rear. You get analog gauges and a key start.

      Haven't tried any, but if it were up to me, go for Mazda 2 I say. Jinba-ittai should make for a gear changing fun drive.

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