1 Oct 2002
By CHRIS HARRIS
HONDA’S first foray into the modern light-car segment in Australia proved an unqualified critical and commercial success.
In some ways the Jazz, also known as the Fit abroad, progressed the original 1959 Mini’s cause – maximising as much usable interior space as possible. Yet it wasn’t solely because of the Jazz’s vaguely futuristic one-box shape.
Ingeniously Honda packaged the fuel tank compact rear suspension so as to liberate as much rear floor area as possible. It did this by shifting the fuel tank from underneath the back seats to just below the front seats.
After that the extra seating and cargo permutations came naturally.
Low fuel and emissions costs were top Honda priorities too, so Honda devised two lean-burn four-cylinder engines for Jazz.
The base GLi featured a new 1.3-litre SOHC 8-valve unit featuring i-DSI dual/sequential ignition technology for maximum efficiency (4.8L/100km is the lowest fuel consumption figure available) while delivering 61kW of power and 119Nm of torque.
Meanwhile an 81kW/143Nm 1.5-litre single-cam 16-valve VTEC engine provided extra oomph for less urban-sited duties while still capable of 5.2L/100km.
Both powerplants were mated to a five-speed manual or CVT automatic gearbox – with five predetermined ratios in the 1.3 and seven for the 1.5 CVT.
The 1.5 featured in the VTi and sporty VTi-L models, with the latter gaining slightly firmer suspension and wider tyres.
All models included dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, power steering, power mirrors, power windows, central locking and a trip computer.
The VTi added remote central locking, a remote sliding function for the front passenger seat and fancier trim.
When it was new