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Honda Jazz 1.5 RS+ (2017) review

Honda’s B-segment hatchback gets a mid-life facelift, plus RS trim for the first time. Is it worth it?

What’s new?

Now that the Jazz has reached three years in its current generation, Honda has given it a mandatory mid-life update. Apart from some visual tweaks here and there, the B-segment hatchback gets the RS trim for the first time (the only other models granted the RS name so far are the Mobilio and Civic). 

Apart from all-round LED lights, the Jazz RS gets bespoke bumpers incorporating carbon aero bits, unique 16-inch alloys, black-coloured mirrors. Inside, there are orange stitching on the seats and front centre armrest and 6.8-inch touchscreen.

Spec for the RS+, as tested here, and you’ll get front, side and curtain airbags – unique passive safety features for the Thai B-segment.

As the RS trims have been designed to supersede the SV monikers of the pre-facelift Jazz, prices are basically the same: 739,000 baht for RS and 754,000 baht for RS+.

What’s cool?

If you simply take appearance into consideration, there’s a great sense of consistency in the way Honda has applied the colours for that sporty effect. The orange exterior body, for one, nicely melds with the stitching inside the Jazz. The same goes for the dark hues for those bespoke body parts. 

          Seats gets coloured stitching.

Sure, the 117hp 1.5-litre engine and CVT automatic with 7-speed manual override has been carried over and isn’t any kind of performance version to match those aero kits, but it still helps for a pleasant drive by being smooth and progressively punchy when the driver asks for more oomph.

The interior remains easy to use, thanks to an intuitive touchscreen for both the infotainment and air-con system. As well, occupant space in the back and the seat versatility it has to offer for optimum cargo-hauling is the best among B-segment hatchbacks.

What’s not?

Honda has always been known in making their cars more comfortable rather than sporty to drive. So don’t expect that racy appearance to make the Jazz handle as nicely as in a Ford Fiesta or Mazda 2.

Some other inherent downsides include a jittery low-speed ride and lack of soft-touch plastics inside the cabin. After all, the Jazz is supposed to stand over all those Ecocar-labelled hatchbacks, so it would have been nice if there’s more quality-feel trim.

Buy or bye?

The RS treatment is more of a marketing gimmick to give the Jazz more showroom appeal. While it does work for punters needing some funkiness, it’s the specification and price that makes the Jazz RS quite worthy.

          Jazz RS+ goes for 754,000 baht.

Just as a perspective. Although the Toyota Vios is a B-segment saloon – with likewise 1.5-litre power to stand out from Ecocars – the S version of it launched on top of this year’s facelifted model range cost an eye-watering 789,000 baht. And it isn’t as well-specified as the Jazz RS+.

Sure, Toyota may want to shove the Vios upmarket because it is planning to launch a cheaper version of it (rumoured to be called Yaris Sedan) with a smaller engine conforming to Ecocar rules. 

Honda, at least, is playing the game quite neatly and hasn’t brought the future forward to the jeopardy of its current offering. 

So yes, if you want a complete B-segment hatchback with all-round performance, the Jazz is a good deal – just like the City saloon facelifted earlier this year.

Carbon aero bits are fitted on both the front and rear ends.

Interior remains easy and straightforward to use.

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