The new Honda Jazz may have been launched only yesterday, but bookings for the car have been open since June 15. Honda hasn’t disclosed the number of bookings received so far, but company insiders have shared an interesting trend. And that is, as many as 40 percent of buyers have opted for the petrol automatic version of the Jazz. The petrol manual, the sole version of the Jazz available last time around, accounts for 25 percent of bookings so far and the diesel version has received 35 percent of total orders.
While the 65-35 petrol-diesel demand split is in line with expectations, the unexpectedly strong response to the automatic Jazz has come as a surprise to Honda as well. Internal estimates had pointed to the petrol automatic bringing in 30 percent of sales, at best. Thanks to the mismatch in demand and planned supply, Honda will tweak further production in favour of the Jazz auto.
The Jazz auto features a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) that’s mated to a 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine. Interestingly, the same engine is offered with a torque converter gearbox on the automatic versions of the Brio and Amaze. Honda’s decision to opt for a CVT on the Jazz centred around the transmission’s lighter weight, greater range of ‘ratios’ and significant advantages in fuel economy. For the record, the Jazz auto’s ARAI-tested fuel economy of 19kpl betters the manual car’s 18.7kpl figure.
But for the advantages in efficiency, a CVT gearbox is also costlier than a typical four-speed torque converter unit. And that’s precisely why the Amaze and Brio, both of which belong to far more price- sensitive segments, won’t get a CVT anytime soon. Honda engineers we spoke to at the Jazz’s launch were also not convinced by the suitability of cheaper automated manual transmissions to Honda cars, one going to the extent of calling it ‘compromised technology’.
Amongst the Jazz’ contemporaries, only the VW Polo offers an automatic option. But where the seven-speed dual clutch transmission-equipped Polo 1.2 TSI is available in a single fully-equipped version that costs Rs 8.48 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Honda Jazz auto is available in two variants with prices ranging from Rs 6.99 - 7.85 lakh.
If this strong initial response for the Jazz auto sustains, you can bet Honda’s competitors will investigate the viability to offer their own models with the option of an automatic transmission.
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