Test drive Honda Jazz from 1985

Test drive Honda Jazz from 1985
Test drive Honda Jazz from 1985

We will celebrate forty years of Honda Jazz in 2024 and that alone is reason enough to get behind the wheel of this mischievous, ingenious and now very rare Japanese. Plus by definition the fact that we found a good copy, because of the more than 3,500 units that were registered in the Netherlands from the end of 1983 to 1986, very few are left.

The Jazz immediately evokes associations with, for example, the first Renault Twingo (1993) and the original Panda (1980). Angular, high and therefore extremely functional. It was not completely new in 1984, this model has been around in Japan since 1981 and was sold there as Honda City. It was too big to meet the requirements for the ‘Kei-car’ category. Its length corresponds to that of the aforementioned Panda and, for example, the Austin Metro; the later Twingo is five centimeters longer. Just like today, a Honda was not a price winner in its segment. With a starting price of just under sixteen grand, the Jazz was financially in the same league as larger cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa, VW Polo and the Peugeot 205. All basic variants with a 1-liter engine, where the small Japanese has a 1.2. has under the hood. But on the other hand, the Honda does not spoil you with a lot of luxury, which was the trump card for Japanese cars at the time. The Jazz Luxe, which is only 550 guilders more expensive, treats its rider to an extra 11 hp and a fifth gear.

Blue on the inside

The fact that it is reminiscent of a Twingo is mainly due to the front that looks at you almost endearingly with the two round eyes. Instead of a conventional grille, we see a body-colored panel between the headlights with two large slots for cooling air and the brand logo on the left, not centered. Viewed from the side, not only the height (1.47 m) and the large glass surface are striking, but also the edge of the front wheel arch, which extends straight forward, just like on the second Kia Sportage. Other nice details are the 12-inch wheels, the semi-circular door handles and the – lockable – fuel filler flap at the rear seat. It is not in that location for nothing, because the fuel tank is directly underneath. Wide plastic bumper strips prevent damage and the large exterior mirror is adjustable from the inside. The rear has a conventional cut and for the European market the bumper received two fog lights. A wiper on the rear window was standard. The interior is at least as cheerful as the outside. Light blue carpet on the floor, the dashboard has the same color and the same color is also reflected on the seats (with headrests) and rear seat. We count four ventilation grilles, a system for heating and ventilation that can be operated with sliders and a long gear lever. The large speedometer – with trip meter – is flanked by gauges for fuel supply and coolant temperature.

All-round independent suspension

The large door gives even someone of 1.90 m ample access to the driver’s seat and there you also have more than enough freedom of movement. Starting the four-cylinder engine can be easily recognized by a car nerd with his eyes closed as that of a Honda. The manual choke is still necessary when the engine is cold; Once on the road we press the lever back again. Not a high-revving engine by the way, but with a much larger stroke than bore. It’s not the same 1.2-liter as in the Civic of that era. With its modest 45 hp, it is able to give the Jazz acceptable performance.

With a weight of 688 kg, the little Honda is even lighter than the battery of a Mercedes EQS 450+. It is not difficult to guess that it is much noisier than the Benz. From 100 km/h the power source clearly shows that it is working hard, but it is not yet unbearable. Pairing and switching is very easy, steering is relatively light thanks to the 145 mm narrow straps. What should also not go unmentioned is the fact that the Jazz has independent suspension all around. That partly justified the higher purchase price. With that suspension, it turns a corner a little better than its competitors. With a wheelbase of 2.22 m and the firm suspension, the Jazz is not very comfortable, that is clear. But the condition of this 39-year-old copy is downright astonishing. It doesn’t even have an exorbitant price tag: €4,900 was asked for it at the time of the test drive.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Test drive Honda Jazz


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