Growing up, the only hatchback I know was the Kia Pride since our neighbor has one, while the rest of the street, my father included, all had sedans. Lancer, Galant, Corolla, Crown, Sentra, 323—these are the names I grew up with. I knew of the existence of the Honda Jazz when it was first launched, but I didn’t have a close encounter with it until I went to college.
I had a classmate who has an ‘09 Jazz that he brings daily to school. I remember being surprised by it because from the outside, it looked small but once you get inside, it’s very spacious. I was a wide man even back then, so being comfortable in a relatively small hatchback was a new thing for me. There was even a time we went on a short trip and we had five people in the backseat while I was riding shotgun. Granted, one of them was really thin, but still, it was astounding that they were able to fit there.
It was also the Jazz that introduced me to my favorite feature of hatchbacks—you can hang out at the back. Parking lots and even just the side of the road can be chill spots when we open the backdoor. We’d park just near manong fishball, open the back, fold the backseat, and we have our own makeshift nook away from the afternoon sun. It’s basically the setup whenever we eat around UP since most of the joints there have very few tables, if any.
More than that, the Jazz’s ULTR seat configuration gave it the most versatile cargo-hauling capabilities in its segment. I first saw its legitimacy when a friend of mine brought a whole projector screen using his third-gen Jazz. True, it’s not a cinema-sized screen, but it was big enough for 30-50 people. Normally you’d need an SUV or van to bring that easily but with the Jazz’s seating modes, it was not a problem at all.
I also see it in action among bikers. Some of them can fit their bikes at the back by just folding the backseat. No need for heavy bike racks. The other modes are also beneficial to those transporting plants, guitar amps, guitars, luggage, and as demonstrated in Honda’s site, even surf boards. Really, if you are alone, which is most of your driving time you are, there’s a lot you can carry inside the Jazz.
Later on, because of the nature of my job, I’ve driven quite a few for myself and all I can say is, it always feels home. I’ve never owned one for myself, but going from one car to another, the Jazz is the most natural I’ve been in with a very minimal adjustment period. Visibility is great, the engine gives it a zippy drive, and the ride is comfortable. Its size and hatchback nature also made it easy to handle in the city and makes parking a cinch.
As a kid, there will always be Ferraris, Lambos, Mustangs, and Camaros, but I grew up and realized they’re too expensive and not really practical for everyday driving. Then the Honda Jazz came into my radar, flaunting the possibilities of good design combined with functionality. It’s the car that made me prefer hatchbacks, and the one that got me interested in cars again.
This is why the current status of the Honda Jazz is something personal for me. It’s currently in limbo as there’s still no word if we’ll get the international version of the fourth-gen Honda Fit (original name of the Jazz), similar to what Japan, Europe, China, and Singapore is having, or we’ll get the recently launched City hatchback in Thailand and rebadge it as the Jazz here.
I know that the 5-door City also gets the ULTR seat configuration that helped make the Jazz iconic so we won’t really lose out on anything. It just irks me that if ever, we’re getting a replacement, not a successor. Unlike other cars that simply ended its life cycle, people elsewhere will still enjoy the real Jazz while we would have to settle for an actor – though it’s a damn good one at that. But, just like Ely Buendia’s last words in Superproxy 2k6, there’s no substitute for the real thing.
I’m aware that I sound similar to those who plead for a manual gearbox in a Honda, and that Honda Cars Philippines will choose what’s financially viable for them. Still, I hope this isn’t my last drive with the Jazz and that the car itself lives on, not just the nameplate.