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First look: Honda unveils new Jazz

Jazz hands: Australia will see the new Honda Jazz in early 2014, although local plans for the new Hybrid version seen here remain unclear.

Redesigned Honda Jazz emerges with brand new hybrid system and slick new cabin

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Honda logo22 Jul 2013

HONDA has given the world its first glimpse of the crucial third-generation Jazz, as well as the vastly improved hybrid powertrain that will power flagship versions.

Featuring the familiar, spacious ‘tall-boy’ silhouette of its predecessors, the new Jazz also brings to the table a much classier cabin design and premieres a new, Honda-first dual-clutch transmission (at least on the petrol-electric versions).

The car also debuts the revised underpinnings that will eventually play host to a new sub-compact SUV rival for the Nissan Juke.

The Jazz – called the Fit in some markets – will begin a global roll-out in September this year, and while Honda Australia has given no confirmation, expect to see it in local showrooms in the first quarter of 2014.

Honda’s new ‘Sports Hybrid’ system, designed to suit smaller vehicles, combines a single motor, a lithium-ion battery pack and a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine Matched with a new seven-speed DCT, the Jazz Hybrid produces 100kW of power and 182Nm of torque, a boost over the current model’s 72kW/167Nm.

Drivers can also cruise for around three kilometres in electric-only mode at speeds of up to 50km/h, and Honda is claiming fuel consumption of approximately 2.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the Japanese test cycle – two-thirds that of the Prius.

This is a 35 per cent improvement over the current Jazz Hybrid that went on sale in February with fuel use of 4.5L/100km.

Honda has provided precious little information on the regular powertrains that will propel entry versions, although reports indicate they will be re-worked versions of the current 1.3 and 1.5-litre petrol units, matched to either a new six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT (not the Hybrid’s DCT).

Images of the Jazz reveal an entirely new design reminiscent of its larger Civic hatch sibling, with a more angular and aggressive look than the current model. Honda is using the third-generation Jazz to usher in its new ‘Exciting H’ design language that will eventually carry over to other future models in its range.

External dimensions remain much the same as the existing model, although reports suggest the overall length and wheelbase have grown by around 25mm.

A defined crease runs along the side of the Jazz from the front three-quarter panel before reaching the redesigned tail-lights that wrap around to the rear and continue up along the D-pillars in Volvo-esque form.

Honda head of global exterior design Toshinobu Minami told US publication Autonews the Japanese car-maker was keen to incorporate an edgier design with the new car, in a move away from the current version’s more rounded shape.

“We wanted a more emotional contrast in the design,” he said. “The character line captures the contrast of a round shape being pierced. The back end is sportier, the hood more pronounced. The interior isn't plasticky at all.” Honda’s designers have updated the cabin to make it more appealing to tech-savvy buyers by incorporating a large screen in the centre stack and a new layout for the climate control.

The entire centre stack interface gives the appearance of a clean sheet of black glass when the vehicle is not running, but turn the key of the Jazz and it lights up offering a number of control options, including sat-nav and audio.

A sporty RS variant is expected to be released in some markets, featuring the 1.5-litre engine and the six-speed manual gearbox, but it is unclear whether this will make it in the Australian line-up.

Honda’s second generation Jazz arrived in Australia in September 2008 has gone on to become the Japanese brand’s third most popular model in Australia behind the Civic small-car and CR-V compact SUV.

The next Jazz will share a platform with Honda’s first sub-compact crossover - currently dubbed the Urban SUV - that was shown at the Detroit motor show earlier this year and should go on sale next year, most likely after the Jazz.

More details regarding powertrains and specifications will be released closer to the launch date.

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