After a decade long operations in India, the largest player in the mid-size cars, Honda Siel Cars (HSCI) is entering the high volume hatchback category with its small car Jazz, a top company executive said. The car will have a new 1.2 litre engine developed exclusively for the Indian market, carrying highest fuel efficiency in its segment.
Jazz also called Fit in certain markets, is the only small car in Honda's global portfolio. To be launched in India in the month of June, Jazz is likely to be the most expensive petrol hatchback in the market with an expected base price of Rs 5.5 lakh. It will be pitted against Skoda's Fabia, Tata Motors' Indigo, Ford Fusion and Hyundai's Accent besides Ritz the upcoming product from Maruti's stable.
Speaking to ET, HSCI managing director & CEO Masahiro Takedagawa said, "Jazz will have all the features found in a premium large car. Our survey shows that 80% hatchback customers feel that these cars lack legroom and headroom space which we have addressed in Jazz."
He added, "We have designed a special engine for India to optimise fuel efficiency and power, which delayed the launch by one year. Jazz also comes strapped with a toughened suspension to meet stiff roads conditions in India."
The car is based on Honda's City platform and will have a high 70% localisation. Jazz is likely to endorse Honda pioneered V-Tec technology for high fuel efficiency, which is already used in the Honda City engine. Jazz will also qualify for the concessional 8% excise duty under government's small car definition.
"We will try to pass the benefit of lower excise duty on Jazz but 30% of its components are imported and the weak rupee may lead to a higher price," Mr Takedagawa said. He however added that he company is not positioning Jazz as a volume generator and its best-selling sedan City will remain the largest car for Honda in India.
Jazz will have customisation option for navigation system, in-car entertainment, sporty tyres and other gizmos at the dealer level. It will be launched with manual transmission and will be studded with an automatic transmission later.
According to sources in the automobile market, Honda could also launch a diesel variant of Jazz in the next few years. The company is targeting smaller cities and towns for the new car and plans to add 10 more dealerships in the next one year to the current tally of 106 across the country.
Fuel Type: Petrol
Engine: 1.2L i-VTEC petrol
Dimensions (LxWxH): 3855x1875x1525