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New Honda Jazz fit for Fido

Jazzed up: According to the fourth-generation Honda Jazz’s designer, it has the thinnest A-pillars in the automotive world.

The hopefully-not-elusive Honda Jazz has something in common with Holden’s HQ

Honda logo31 Oct 2019

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in TOKYO

HONDA has yet to decide whether to import the next-generation Jazz to Australia due to high exchange rates and low light-car segment sales, but that did not stop GoAuto from trying to get the story of how and why the all-new fourth-generation Japanese supermini looks the way it does.

 

Speaking to GoAuto at the model’s global debut at the Tokyo motor show last week, the person behind the Jazz’s fresh styling, Honda Motor Company senior designer Baek Jongkuk, revealed that achieving best possible ‘comfort’ was the buzzword behind the hatchback – and not just in literal terms but also in its appearance and usability.

 

“I wanted the Fit to present a friendly face to the world,” he said. “I wanted it to look sportier and more agile than the old car… like a small Japanese hunting dog called the Shiba Inu.

 

“The aim is to appeal more to younger buyers … who want to feel comfortable and secure. Young people don’t want aggression in their cars. They want them to look streamlined.”

 

Part of achieving his goals was to lower and enlarge the lighting elements front and rear, discarding the previous GK Jazz’s fussy swage lines for tauter and cleaner surfacing, and minimising overall detailing clutter.

 

“I wanted a lower look, so I raised the beltline, which also makes the car look more stable on the road,” Mr Jongkuk said.

 

One upshot of the larger frontal area that results from the total redesign is a slightly increased drag, although he could not provide a Cd figure.

 

Hailing originally from South Korea but based in Japan, and spending up to three years on the design of this and its yet-to-be-announced sedan offshoot (sold in Australia as the City), Mr Jongkuk revealed that one of his favourite new details is the thinness of the windscreen pillars, stating that to his knowledge, they are the slenderest on any production car in the world. They are also half as skinny as the ones on the outgoing model.

 

“I am most proud of the thin pillars – the thinnest in the world,” he believes, although he failed to recall whether they are in fact narrower than Australia’s Holden HQ-HZ range produced from 1971 to 1980.

 

“We did this to make it easier to see out of, which (again) makes the driver feel more comfortable in the Jazz … again comfort is the buzzword.”

 

Although the Jazz has very different detail elements compared to the previous model launched in 2013, its dimensions and proportions are almost exactly the same, as Honda did not want to compromise on the model’s famous ‘Tardis’-like packaging as a result of the ‘Magic Seats’ rear seat folding system.

 

A feature in all Jazz generations since the original launched at the Tokyo motor show in October 2001, the latter liberates exceptionally deep loading areas due to the fuel tank’s migration from underneath the rear seats (as in almost all other vehicles) to beneath the front row.

 

As the Fit, sales of the next Jazz commence in Japan in February next year, with European markets to follow soon after.

 

Other vehicles Mr Jongkuk worked on include the current Honda Accord and Civic sedan, hatch and (mainly North American-market) coupe.

 

He declined to reveal whether he is also behind the look of the next-generation HR-V small SUV, since that is also believed to be a Jazz/Fit spin-off like the existing one.

 

In a statement, Honda said the Jazz “…presents an evolution of the instantly recognisable monospace silhouette … (with a) seamless, clean design philosophy that will define future Honda models follows the key concepts of function and beauty first seen in the Honda E”.

 

“Natural, crisp lines run horizontally along the sides of the car, with a fresh simplicity of form. The sharper, more vertical shoulder lines emphasise the rear fender and wheelarches, reinforcing the car's broader stance and sense of stability. The rear design of the car echoes the clean lines at the front, with a sleek new horizontal light cluster layout and discrete roof spoiler.”


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