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Sedan in the City

City-car: Second-generation Jazz hatch will be joined by a light-sized sedan.

Honda is poised to introduce the new Jazz-based City sedan to Australia in 2009

1 Sep 2008

HOT on the heels of the second-generation hatch, Honda Australia is expected to add a four-door sedan version to its new Jazz range within the next six months.

However, it will not be the existing City/Aria sedan that has served the company in its mostly Asian markets since 2002, but an all-new model derived from the second-generation Jazz hatch launched in Australia last week.

Whether it will be called the City or Jazz Sedan in Australia remains to be seen.

Although Honda executives will not confirm the arrival of a three-box Jazz to Australia, it has been reported recently that managing director and CEO Yasuhide Mizuno supports the idea of an inexpensive compact four-door sedan like the City.

He suggested that some of the four million or so Australian households who speak a language other than English are more inclined to purchase a sedan than a hatch, even in the light and small-car segments.

The existing City has been developed expressly for this type of buyer taste, and has been sold in markets such as India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Japan since late 2002.

Adding weight to Honda Australia’s City/Jazz sedan ambitions, senior director Lindsay Smalley hinted last week that he would like to see a sub-Civic sedan sell alongside the Jazz hatch.

“There is certainly room for it,” he revealed to GoAuto.

The light-car sedan segment is growing, with the established Toyota Yaris, Holden Barina, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent soon to be joined by a Proton (Saga in Malaysia, but it won’t be called that in Australia), while Mazda and Ford are believed to be deliberating over importing sedan versions of the Mazda2 and upcoming Fiesta.

Images of the next-generation City have been surfacing on the Internet for some time now, with a completely undisguised example appearing on independent Honda news website www.vtec.net.

Unlike the existing City, the new model is more than merely a Jazz with a boot bolted on.

The 2009 City appears to share no body parts with the new Jazz, and even has its own dashboard – with a more conservative layout and appearance.

One Honda insider did admit that the latest Jazz and City were developed to share as many under-the-skin parts as possible, including the centrally mounted fuel tank that allows for the fitment of the hatch’s versatile ‘Magic Seats’.

If Australia does get the go-ahead for the new City, the engine in question is likely to be the same 1.5-litre SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engine that powers the new Jazz VTi and VTi-S.

Driving the front wheels via a five-speed manual or (new) five-speed automatic gearbox, it delivers 88kW of power at 6600rpm and 145Nm of torque at 4800rpm.

Not coincidentally, the Thailand facility that has supplied Australians with the first-generation Jazz since 2006 (prior to which it came out of Japan) will also produce the new City alongside the latest Jazz in the next few months.

To this end, Honda in Thailand has added another factory, in order to almost double total Honda vehicle production output to 240,000 units per annum.

If Honda does elect to use the City name, it won’t be the first time.

From 1984 to 1986 a two-seater three-door City hatch was imported to Australia, sold as a light-commercial vehicle even though it was actually a light-car abroad.

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