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Top Gear Philippines

A day in the life of The Stig
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I can be quite anal when it comes to entertaining people within my personal space-an attitude that carries over to taking on passengers in my car. That the shuffle mode of my iPod might play something incriminating is the least of my worries. I wonder if I've tackled a speed bump smoothly enough, or if the aircon is working properly. Or if there are enough cupholders. Or if people are eating inside my car again and dropping crumbs all over the place.

Fortunately, there are cars like the Honda Jazz, which practically takes care of passengers. When you talk about the second-gen Jazz, what usually draws attention are the flashier exterior styling, the bigger interior space, and the i-VTEC technology now available in both the 1.3- and 1.5-liter lumps. The creature comforts tend to get downplayed, which is a shame because they're a big improvement over the previous model's.

The seats, for starters, are firmer and offer more support, whether you're cruising steadily or throwing the car spiritedly around corners (the latter perhaps being a more regular occurrence with the 1.5 V variant than with the 1.3 S we got to test, which has just the right amount of power for city driving). Passengers at the back will rejoice at the reclining capabilities of the backseat. While it's not exactly a La-Z-Boy, the few degrees of tilt make a world of difference. And the cooler gust from the A/C vents will surely be appreciated.

Up front, the driver also gets goodies--notably the more accessible controls for the aircon and audio, and an easy-to-read information display that shows instantaneous and average fuel consumption figures, among other things. The increases floor space means better-positioned pedals, as well as the addition of a footrest. Also, the steering wheel is now mounted to a column that both tilts and telescopes.

Compartments still abound, but what I miss from the first-gen model is the niche below the head unit, which had been convenient for gadgets. Still, Honda made up for it by throwing in more cupholders--a total of ten, including two in front of the side A/C vents for keeping drinks cold. What five passengers will do with ten cupholders is something I can't wrap my head around; I would've better appreciated more speakers, but the stock four-speaker audio system isn't bad at all.

The best improvement on the Jazz, however, is the suspension. It's still the same pairing of MacPherson struts and H-shaped torsion beam fore and aft, but it has been reconfigured to improve the ride comfort by a far cry. Considering the softer ride--and the better sound insulation to boot--I'd be surprised if your companions didn't fall asleep.

With this car considerably catering to the needs of the passengers, you'll find yourself relieved of the job of entertaining them, so you can just enjoy the drive and everyone's company. As for the crumbs they leave--there's nothing a good raking with a vacuum cleaner can't manage.

Source: Top Gear Philippines, March 2009 

Photos by Charles Custodio<br />
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Sharleen Banzon
An inveterate Formula 1 geek, Sharleen tips the scales at just 50kg because she starves herself to save up for F1 trips.
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