Honda's new Jazz launches with an aggressive price tag

  • Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2015 14:25 IST
Against mighty Elite i20, Honda's new Jazz gets an aggressive price tag. (Sumant Banerji/HT Photo)

Japanese auto major Honda Cars India on Wednesday relaunched its premium hatchback Jazz in India at a starting price of Rs 5.31 -7.29 lakh for the five petrol variants and Rs 6.5 -8.59 lakh across its diesel variants. An automatic transmission available with the petrol engine comes in two variants priced at Rs 6.99-8.59 lakh.

The company is hoping its dominance in the mid size sedan segment (City) will rub off on the Jazz that shares 60% of its components with the City. Unlike in the sedans where Honda is easily ahead of the pack, Jazz faces stiff competition from Hyundai's Elite i20, a runaway leader in the premium hatchback category with average sales of 12,000 units per month. Competition in the segment is also likely to intensify with the entry of market leader Maruti Suzuki's as yet unnamed car later this year.

"Nearly half the population in India is below 25 years of age and with the Jazz we are targeting young people looking for a stylish spacious as also a fun to drive car," said Katsushi Inoue, president, Honda Cars India. "The premium hatchback segment is one of the fastest growing segments in India and in anticipation of the Jazz we have invested Rs 380 crore to expand capacity in our Rajasthan factory by 60,000 units per annum to take our overall capacity to 300,000 units per annum."

The car is powered by a 1.2 litre petrol and 1.5 litre diesel engine. This is the first time Honda has plonked a diesel engine in the Jazz anywhere in the world. The petrol engine produces 90 PS peak power and 110 NM of torque while the diesel engine makes 100 PS power and 200 NM of torque. Honda claims a fuel economy of 18.7 kpl for the petrol, 19 kpl for the automatic and a class leading 27.3 kpl for the diesel version. The company expects diesel to account for nearly 40% of the car's sales in India.

"We expect petrol to account for 60% of sales and diesel will account for the rest," said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Honda Cars India Ltd. "The market has changed radically from 2008 when we had launched the Jazz first and we have adapted the new car in line with the changing dynamics. We are confident the Jazz will be our next big success in India."

First launched in Japan in 2001, around 5.5 million units of the car have been sold across 75 countries so far. In India Honda had first launched the car in 2008 with an attempt at creating a niche segment where customers do not mind paying more for a feature rich small car over a sedan. Customers were however, put off by its high price (nearly r 7 lakh for base petrol variant) and the lack of a diesel option also hampered its sales. After a botched attempt at revising the price in 2011, the company discontinued the car in 2013 to make space for its new range of cars such as Amaze and Mobilio.

To keep the price of the car under check this time, Honda has increased localisation levels in the car from 72% in the old Jazz to 95% in the new one, but has stripped it off many features in the base variants. Airbags, front fog lamps and parking camera are not on offer on the two base variants across powertrains while sophisticated safety features like anti lock brakes and electronic brake distribution system is not on offer for petrol version in the base two trims. This is a departure from the Jazz of 2008 where these features were standard and you paid more only for cosmetic additions.

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