The recent "Honda City and Jazz VSA Safety Driving Experience" was more about safety than driving--and we have to give credit to Honda Cars Philippines for that, because it was exactly the right call. The media event was supposed to be an out-of-town overnight trip, until the imminent arrival of typhoon Glenda forced a change of plans. Safety first.
Fortunately, the weather cooperated long enough for us to have a truncated version of the event and get some seat time in the all-new City and Jazz, the top VX+ variants of which come standard with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA).
"Our cars have always been infused with the latest vehicle safety systems available on the market," said HCPI president and general manager Toshio Kuwahara. "We are proud to be one of the first brands to include these high-end safety features on our affordable sedan and hatchback models. This makes the City and the Jazz two of the safest and most technically advanced vehicles in the subcompact class today."
VSA integrates electronic aids like ABS with EBD and traction control to maximize grip and maintain a vehicle's intended path of travel on slippery surfaces, and during instances of excessive understeer or oversteer. In order for us to see these safety systems at work, we were guided through three driving exercises.
First up was Slip and Grip. In this exercise, we had to drive onto a part of the course that had a grippy dry surface on the left side and a soapy linoleum strip on the right. As we stomped on the brakes, VSA balanced the distribution of braking force depending on the tires' varying levels of grip. This prevented the car from pulling sharply to one side. We then mashed the accelerator to get going from a full stop, and this time the safety nannies bogged down the engine and applied the brakes accordingly to limit wheelspin and keep the car tracking straight.
The next exercise, Side Slip, was all about panic-braking in the middle of a high-speed turn. A flustered driver would usually end up braking and yanking the wheel hard to make the corner in such a scenario, causing the car to plow and fishtail. In this case, VSA limited side slippage by sending more stopping power to the grippier side.
Finally, Brake and Evade simulated sudden braking and change of direction. We were made to build up speed and brake late for a left-right chicane--and just to make things more fun, the obstacle surface was doused with water after every run. We bailed out of our first attempt when a photographer wandered into the danger zone, but our second attempt was successful, with no casualties among onlookers and orange cones. We felt the ABS kick in, and thanks to the intervention of VSA, the formidable-looking chicane turned out more manageable than expected.
Said event driving instructor Georges Ramirez: "These exercises illustrated how both the top variants of the Jazz and the City are well-equipped to give you confidence on the road in order to handle emergency driving situations."
For the record, VSA works, people. But don't use that as an excuse to drive carelessly, or to venture out on the road when the conditions are treacherous--like in the middle of a typhoon. Safety first.