At the beginning of 2018, Honda launched its revised Jazz Sport in South Africa.
The Sport, the new top model in the Jazz range, made a splash thanks to its sporty design, sharp handling characteristics, and lively engine.
Almost two years later and the Jazz Sport’s segment saw the arrival of a few newcomers in the form of the all-new Suzuki Swift Sport and Opel Corsa GSi.
But the Jazz also has to contend with the perennial front-runner, the Volkswagen Polo GTI.
While each of its rivals offers something unique to the market, the Jazz has to compete with them on all fronts. With regards to its design, dynamic traits, and power outputs, Honda has to make sure that its Jazz Sport can run with the best.
The aforementioned rivals each have a unique answer to what the Jazz offers. Here’s how the Honda Jazz Sport compares in the various facets.
Design - Opel Corsa GSi
The Corsa GSi may not be built on the most modern of underpinnings, but it does have an ace up its sleeve: its design. Sporting fat 18-inch wheels and a take-me-seriously body kit, the GSi can’t be overlooked. Nor can it be ignored.
Next to the Jazz Sport, both cars have a striking design. Both feature a face that warrants your undivided attention. It’s brilliant actually, but the Corsa GSi does have the upper hand on this one. The Jazz Sport still reminds too strongly of its mommy-van genes and can’t hide that fact. It also has too many MPV traits in its arsenal and does not sit low to the ground like the Opel.
In the blue hue, our Jazz Sport is decked in, the car can’t be overlooked. And the red stripe running around the bottom-end of the car does add some visual drama. But if the Jazz Sport is to make a real splash, Honda needs to lower the suspension and roof just a bit. In our opinion, that will enhance the vehicle’s presence.
Handling - Suzuki Swift Sport
One of the most important aspects of any hot hatch is its handling characteristics, and in the Swift Sport’s case, they have it covered. The Swift Sport was launched in South Africa earlier in 2019, and already the little sportster has proven itself to be a valiant addition to our market.
When the road opens up and the road markings begin to sway, the Jazz Sport knows how to carry itself through such experiences. Thanks to its good steering feedback, the car can hold its own. Though one would not be too exuberant to tackle a corner with gusto and vigour, the Jazz Sport will at least make you look good. But not as good as the Swift Sport.
Wheels24’s reader Warren Wilson noted in a piece he wrote on the Swift Sport: “The new Suzuki Swift Sport is a pure underdog in our market and it’s walking into a space where the previous generations have carved out a cult following.”
Image: Warren Wilson
Drivetrain - Volkswagen Polo GTI
Unfortunately for the Jazz Sport, anything carrying the word ‘sport’ in its name, comes with a certain premeditated opinion. And the assumed power that accompanies such nomenclature can, at times, excite people the wrong way. In the Jazz Sport’s case, it faces a tough battle against the Polo GTI.
The Polo GTI is fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that delivers 147kW and 320Nm. The Jazz, it implements a naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre petrol engine that’s good for 97kW and 155Nm. While both send their drive to the front wheels, the Jazz falls in terms of how quickly it can channel its power to the road. Both cars are fitted with an automatic gearbox, but the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) in the Jazz just can’t compete with VW’s double clutch gearbox (DSG).
In terms of performance, the Jazz Sport runs a 0-100km/h time of 9.8 seconds and a top speed of 180km/h. This vs. the GTI’s numbers of 6.7sec and 237km/h.
Wheels24's Robin Classen noted: "I found the transition between gears a bit flat and 'laggy' but shifting it into 'S' (sport mode) woke it up a bit where I could make use of paddle-shifting, engaging a bit of VTEC in the process."
The Honda Jazz Sport has more going against it than for it. Reviewed on its own, there is enough in the bag to warrant its position in the market. But once the rivals are factored in - both in terms of performance and price - then the cracks in the Jazz Sport's arsenal begin to show. The Honda Jazz range is one of the better value hatchbacks in our market, but the top-of-the-range Sport model is not justified as a sports hatchback.
Pehaps Honda should slap the Civic Type R treatment on its Jazz Sport...
Honda Jazz Sport - R338 900
Suzuki Swift Sport - R315 900 (manual) / R335 900 (auto)
Opel Corsa GSI - R365 900
Volkswagen Polo GTI - R398 400