HONDA SMALL CARS
Small is big, so think the auto majors. As everyone makes a try at the market in this segment, Honda Siel too seems to be thinking on similar lines. The move is said to be prompted by the impressive 25 per cent growth rate in the segment.
IT could be a toss-up between Life and Jazz as Honda firms up plans to launch a small car in India.
The little Jazz is a well engineered, practical, economical (if somewhat sluggish) performer. The model we tested was the Gli (Base model) 1.3L
It has the same suspension as that of CR-V and currently has three versions ranging from 1.3-litre to 1.5-litre engines.
Life is a four-door hatchback with a 660-cc engine.
Its engine capacity could, however, be a restricting factor for Honda to look at it seriously.
The rear floor of the car is flat, and the rear passenger seats fold completely flat also, providing over 1300 litres of storage space in the rear, ample room for large objects. According to Honda literature you can store 3 26" mountain bikes upright (with front wheels intact). Quite believable, given the 1.7 metre by 1.28 metre high rear load area when the rear seats are folded flat. With the rear seats in their upright position, there is room enough for 6 feet tall adults to sit comfortably, with grab handles on the roof, and rear head rests for safety. There is a good amount of knee room also.
The front seats provide a moderate amount of comfort, and decent lateral and lumber support. Rear seats didn't seem to benefit from the same amount of 'give', and might be a little more uncomfortable for longer trips. Driver comfort is good, with relatively high seating position in the car giving good forward visibility with a tilt adjustable steering wheel.
There is a reasonably large glovebox, and lipped storage trays at the driver and passenger's knees (becoming common in small cars these days). Two cup holders are moulded in front of the gearbox. The plastics and fabric used inside are of high quality feel and great finish.
The leather steering wheel is comfortable, and pleasant to use. It feels nearly sporty, with good hand position grips. The rest of the interior controls are all similarly easy to use, with simple A/C and heater controls, 4 speed fan, and a CD/Stereo unit mounted in the dash. The CD controls were basic, but friendly, and the sound was adequate from the system. There are 4 speakers. Of note, the Stereo is moulded in the centre console, maybe Honda thinks most of their buyers wont want to be replacing it?
The 1.3L I-Dsi engine, incorporating a single over head cam and no variable valve timing, punches out 61kW at 5700rpm and 119Nm of torque at 2800rpm. It idles very smoothly and quietly, and when moving away you'll find approximately 90% of torque in the little unit is available from 2000 to 5000 rpm, ensuring that there is usually acceptable acceleration when required. For a 1.3L engine, performance is reasonable, if a little loud at high revs. The engine is smooth though, and quite flexible given its good spread of torque - allowing fewer gear shifts. The benefit of 1.3L and Honda engine design, coupled with ever tightening emissions standards is of course better fuel consumption. When highway cruising we achieved around 4.9L/100km, and in and around the city the figure crept up to about 6L/100km. Both of these figures were read from the trip computer.