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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

No, Honda Cars PH Didn't Shortchange The Market When They Introduced the City Hatchback And Discontinued The Jazz


When the all-new Honda Fit or Jazz launched at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2019, the reaction from enthusiasts was almost entirely negative. This, it seems, is one of the reasons why Honda, on a regional level, decided to instead develop the City Hatchback instead.

For those thinking that ASEAN, including the Philippines got the short end of the sub-compact stick, think again. The New City’s Large Project Leader (aka Chief Engineer) Mr. Satoru Azumi reveals that the all-new City Hatchback (and sedan), and the all-new Fit share a huge chunk of commonality. In Honda terminology, this means that there are a lot of similar (but not identical) parts.

Azumi-san says that while it is true that Honda’s consolidating its product line-up globally to become more competitive, deciding to develop the City and Fit separately still made more sense for them. They determined that it was more efficient on every aspect—be it because of logistics, supplier availability, manufacturing, or cost.

Plus, when Honda Japan showed both the City Hatchback and Fit to their regional markets, ASEAN was one of those who raised their hands, and chose to develop and launch the City Hatchback. On the other hand, the all-new Jazz/Fit ended up for Japan, Europe, and China, while North America opted to bow out of the small hatchback segment altogether.

The regional decision to go with the City Hatchback is down to buyer preference and taste, and judging by the violent reactions the all-new Fit got when it was unveiled in Japan, that decision proved to be right.

For Honda Cars Philippines, they don’t see axing the Fit / Jazz name to be a problem. For them, it’s the same tasty snack with a different name and wrapper. The City Hatchback maintains the key attributes associated with their recently discontinued nameplate—sportiness, fuel efficient, and class-above interior room; heck it even inherited the clever ULTR seats. In fact, they actually see this as an opportunity to “level up” the City nameplate. This influenced their decision to launch a single variant for the City Hatchback—the sporty RS (sorry, there are no plans to launch any more variants soon).

Despite the new nameplate, Honda says they’re confident of maintaining their leadership in the sub-compact hatchback segment. They expect to sell more than 40 City Hatchback units per month, matching or even exceeding the sales of the Honda Jazz.

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