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The highly popular and versatile Honda Jazz range is being augmented with an exciting new model. The debut of the eagerly anticipated Jazz Sport coincides with the launch of the Civic Type R in South Africa, adding dynamic lustre to the Jazz family in the process.

The  newcomer is known as the Jazz/Fit RS in some markets – a car that was popularised in the Gran Turismo 6 Video Game, and gained an almost cult-like status in the process.

In South Africa, the Jazz Sport becomes the new flagship of the range, replacing the current Dynamic derivatives. It links new, more aggressive styling cues and a distinctive aero package to a new, more powerful engine featuring Earth Dreams technology.

The engine is a new addition to the Jazz range, and delivers more power, while offering real benefits in both fuel economy and exhaust emissions terms.

The Jazz Sport is only available with an upgraded, specially adapted Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The gearbox features gearshift paddles and Step Shift functionality, promising enhanced responsiveness.

Interior appointments and finishes also reflect the elevated status of the Jazz Sport. A comprehensive array of comfort and convenience features is standard, while Type R-inspired detailing includes red accents and stitching, as well as racy alloy pedals.

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Sport-specific styling

Replacing the current Jazz Dynamic models, the new Jazz Sport exudes an unmistakably sporty character. Immediately apparent is the wider, lower stance of the hatchback, thanks to substantial, aerodynamically inspired styling changes front and rear.

The new front-end of the Jazz Sport features a sleeker grille design with gloss piano black and chrome elements, framed by slim LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. Gloss-black exterior mirror housings are standard.

An all-new, sculpted front bumper is home to integrated fog lamps with black surrounds, while a new, more prominent front splitter with red pin-striping adds further, Type R-inspired appeal.

The aerodynamic theme continues with smoothly sculpted sill extensions between the front and rear wheel arches, while the 16-inch Berlina black alloy wheels, shod with 185/50 R16 tyres, also serve to emphasise the Jazz Sport’s dynamic character.

The rear has also been reimagined with the addition of a bold rear spoiler, as well as a three-strake diffuser with an upper trim line mirroring the same red detailing as the front splitter.

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Vibrant, full-house interior

The Jazz Sport’s black-hued cockpit has been revised to match the more extrovert exterior treatment.

Thus, the Type R-inspired red accent theme is carried over to the interior, encompassing red stitching on the seats, the console-mounted armrest and the leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Sport pedals are fitted as standard, while the upgraded audio system features six loudspeakers. Also reminiscent of the Type R is the push button start system and smart, keyless entry system.

In addition to its sporty character, the cabin of the new Jazz Sport also boasts best-in-class legroom and space utility. The much-praised Magic Seat system remains a vital feature, and is central to the Jazz’s superior space utilisation and overall versatility. The 359 litre boot can be extended to 889 litres by folding the split rear bench seat down.

As the new flagship of the range, the Jazz Sport features an extensive array of standard luxury, convenience and safety features. A new, soft-padded dashboard adds a touch of sophistication to the interior’s sporty aura.

Comprehensive instrumentation is augmented by a seven-inch touchscreen display that controls the infotainment system – including a CD receiver with six loudspeakers, Bluetooth-driven hands-free telephony, and USB and HDMI connections. It is also linked to the rear-view camera.

Also standard are multifunction controls on the leather-trimmed steering wheel, a centre armrest, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and electrically adjustable and folding exterior mirrors finished in gloss black.

The Jazz Sport is fitted with electric windows front and rear, as well as cruise control, automatic air-conditioning, a tilt and reach-adjustable steering wheel and rear parking sensors as standard.

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Unique engine, recalibrated transmission

To ensure that it delivers on its dynamic promise, the new Jazz Sport is equipped with an all-new, lively and responsive 1,5-litre i-VTEC engine featuring Earth Dreams Technology.

The four-cylinder, dual overhead camshaft engine is exclusive to this model in the Jazz line-up, and makes use of direct injection and intelligent variable valve timing and lift. Maximum power output is 97 kW at 6 600 r/min, with an accompanying torque peak of 155 Nm at 4 600 r/min.

Interestingly, the power output is identical to that of the much-loved Ballade 160i DOHC, 160E and CR-X performance models of the 1990s. The Jazz Sport revisits the same combination of generous power output and a zesty, free-revving engine in a lightweight package – it only weighs 1 066 kg, for a useful power-to-weight ratio of 91 kW/ton.

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Performance and refinement

The sporty hatchback’s dynamic intentions are vindicated by a sub-10 sec 0-100 km/h acceleration time. Even so, combined-cycle fuel consumption remains impressively efficient at just 5,6 litres/100 km.

Contributing to the Jazz Sport’s enthusiastic dynamics and thrifty fuel consumption is a specially adapted Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Featuring Step Shift and gearshift paddles, the gearbox matches the engine’s urge with improved responsiveness.

Despite the newcomer’s sporty demeanour, refinement has also been enhanced, thanks to improved cabin insulation and the fitment of a dynamic engine mount damper, which has resulted in vastly improved NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) performance.

The retuned suspension with revised damper settings, a more rigid steering rack and additional body reinforcement result in a handling package that is more responsive without compromising comfort, while uprated braking system features rear discs instead of the drums fitted as standard to other Jazz models.

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Peace-of-mind safety

Active and passive safety are comprehensively addressed. On the active front, the Jazz Sport gets ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), as well as Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and Hill Start Assist (HSA).

Passive safety is served by an Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) bodyshell that ensures optimised crash safety and passenger safety cell integrity, augmented by six SRS airbags comprising front, side and curtain airbags.

Three-point inertia reel seatbelts are standard front and rear, with pre-tensioners and height-adjustable anchors for the front belts. ISOFix child seat anchors are also provided. An integrated alarm system with engine immobiliser is also fitted.

Awards and accolades

The Honda Jazz has received many awards and accolades over the years. Among the most recent is the Gold Award it garnered in the 2017 Auto Express Driver Power Used Car Awards. The Jazz/Fit also won the New York Daily News Autos City Car Award for the second consecutive year.

Colours, warranty and servicing

The new Jazz Sport is available in a choice of seven vibrant colours: White Orchid Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic, Shining Grey Metallic, Milano Red, Brilliant Sporty Blue Metallic, Skyride Blue Metallic, and Helios Yellow Pearl.

The Jazz Sport retails for R310 000 – the same price as the Jazz Dynamic CVT it replaces, but offering a much more comprehensive package, ensuring superior value.

The price tag includes a comprehensive five-year or 200 000 km warranty and a four-year or 60 000 km service plan, as well as a three-year AA Roadside Assistance package. Services are at 15 000 km intervals.

In other motoring news, BMW Group South Africa recently announced that it is taking training and development to the next level at its new R73 million Plant Rosslyn Training Academy. The state-of-the-art, 6000 square meter facility is able to host a staggering 300 apprentices per year.

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