India saw back to back launches of premium hatchbacks in 2014. First came the new Polo then Elite i20 and lastly followed by the segment leader, new Swift. At the end of the year, Hyundai Elite i20 ended up being the real winner in the premium hatchback segment as it proved that Indians care about styling, features and comfort and they can shell out more money for these value for money hatchbacks over economical sub-four meter sedans.
Not to mention, Elite i20 is currently the largest selling premium hatchback and somehow Swift does not seem its prime rival. The Elite i20 and the new Polo have stepped up and created a new segment for themselves in our market which once belonged to Honda Jazz. However, at that time, our market was not ready for cars like Jazz and without a diesel engine; it stood no chance. Enter 2015 and now the new Honda Jazz is all set to make a comeback and this time, it will have a much lower price tag and most importantly with a diesel engine. Would it become the next big thing in the premium hatchback segment in India? Read on.
Measuring at 3995mm, it is the new Jazz which now becomes the longest car in this comparison as its even 10mm longer than the second longest car, Elite i20 which also happens to be the widest hatch in its segment with a width of 1734mm. The Swift and Jazz comes second and third respectively in terms of width as they have width of 1695mm and 1694mm wide which makes them significantly wider than Polo which comes at last with a width of 1682mm. However, the Polo is longer than Swift as visible because their respective lengths are 3971mm and 3850mm. Apart from width, the Elite i20 also has the class leading wheelbase of 2570mm which is even 40mm longer than the Jazz and far longer than Polo and Swift which has a wheelbase of 2469mm and 2430mm. The best thing about the new Jazz is that despite having a shorter wheelbase than Elite i20, it is the smart packaging of Honda as expected, which makes it the most spacious car in its segment. The seating arrangement is best in its class and it is the most comfortable car here which can accommodate five adults easily. The Elite i20 is the only car in this comparison which rides on 16-inch wheels as rest of the competitors including the new Jazz are only available with 15-inch wheels in their top variants.
It still remains a task for every premium hatchback in India to beat Elite i20 in terms of features. But, Honda has put up a great show against Hyundai in the mid-size sedan segment and they are all set to repeat the move with the new Jazz. First of all the Polo has the advantage to come standard with Dual Front airbags but Indians also wish for more comfort features and that is where it falls short of the Elite i20 and the Jazz. It only features automatic climate control, electrically adjustable ORVMs, ABS, audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and steering mounted controls and rear parking sensors while the new Swift additionally gets premium features such as push button start and auto folding mirrors.
As expected the new Jazz is equipped with all these features and has successfully managed to give Elite i20 a close fight. It successfully competes with the Elite i20 as they both have rear parking camera and they both have unique features. For instance, if Elite i20 comes with rear armrest, a.c vent then Jazz comes standard with 5-inch touchscreen display and ABS with EBD. The top variant of Jazz is stuffed with even bigger 6.2 inch touchscreen loaded with the navigation system.
The Jazz now rules in this department with its powerful yet fuel efficient engines. Apart from the GT versions of Polo, the Jazz becomes the most powerful car in its class. It retains its 1.2L petrol engine which churns out a peak power of 88.8bhp@6000rpm which is now the most powerful engine in the lot as the Elite i20, Polo and Swift generate a maximum power output of 82bhp, 74bhp and 83bhp respectively and all three cars only come equipped with Five-speed manual gearboxes. The Jazz on the other hand is also available with a CVT gearbox without compromising on fuel efficiency and performance.
The biggest news is the arrival of 1.5L diesel engine in Jazz which is the same engine currently powering all of the Honda cars. This engine pumps out a maximum power and torque output of 99bhp@3600rpm and 200Nm@1750rpm. This peak power is more than the 89bhp of Elite i20 and Polo while the Swift falls short by quite a margin as it produces only 74bhp. The Swift also has the least amount of torque (190mm) while Elite i20 and Polo churns out a torque output of 220Nm and 230Nm respectively. To deal with the extra amount of torque produced by its rivals, Honda has especially tuned the engine for early power delivery and Jazz also shares its six-speed manual gearbox with the City which surely improves the low speed drive-ability. The Elite i20 also features a six-speed manual gearbox while the Polo (GT variant excluded) and Swift do with five-speed manual gearboxes.
Thanks to the lighter platform, Jazz also become the lightest car in its class after Swift which also prove to be a major key to success as lighter weight contributes to higher fuel efficiency and powerful performance and that is the reason why Jazz is now the most fuel efficient car in its class and the second most fuel efficient car in the country. Honda claims a fuel efficiency of 27.3km/ltr for its diesel engine which is very impressive keeping its power figures in mind. The Swift comes in second while the Elite i20 and Polo comes the last with ARAI mileage of 25.2km/ltr, 22.5km/ltr and 20.1km/ltr respectively for their diesel engines.
The Swift is currently the most affordable option and this price factor continues to be one of the strongest points for Swift. However it seems rest of the segment has moved ahead and for that Maruti will have the YRA soon also. After Swift, it is a close battle between Elite i20 and Polo and that is where Honda would want to take advantage. By now, it is clear that the Jazz especially in the diesel version is the most fuel efficient car in its class and will offer enough premium comfort and safety features. Moreover to beat cars like the Elite i20 and Polo, it has the best set of fighting tools such as good looks,spacious interiors and loads of features. But the Elite i20 still has the edge in some of the areas like in interior features and the Polo still remains the best one to drive. Our verdict is that if priced well the spacious Jazz has what it takes to be no.1 but it will not be easy at all. Your move Honda.
Words- Nitesh Sharma