This week a new version of the multi-award winning Honda Jazz goes on sale.
Fifty yards from the corner, left foot planted firmly on the brakes, sequentially dropping down a couple of gears with no more than a casual twitch of the thumb. Then it’s off with the brakes, a nudge of steering, a squeeze of throttle. Nose meets the apex with inch-perfect precision, wheels almost kissing the kerb.
Then flat-out, third gear maximum revs, fourth, fifth…. and still two more to go!
Schumacher through Casino Square at Monaco? Villeneuve on a qualifier in Canada?
Or perhaps Ms Honda Jazz owner enjoying a spirited trip to the office?
It could be. Because from August, Honda’s multi award winning small car is available with one of the cleverest and most fun to use transmissions yet developed – called CVT-7. The steering wheel features rocker switches on each horizontal spoke, to allow instant upward and downward shifts at the driver’s command. So the Jazz CVT-7 can be driven just like an F1 car!
As the name suggests, the Jazz’s CVT is unlike any other Continuously Variable Transmission. First there’s the already mentioned sequential shift mode where no fewer than seven "ratios" are selectable with the driver’s left or right thumb.
Then again, if the driver prefers to let the car do the work, the CVT-7 offers the convenience of an automatic, with gear change free ease for tackling the city. In its continuously variable mode there is the option of "normal" and "sports" ratio programmes: this allows the driver at any instant to select the perfect balance between low noise and best fuel efficiency, or the instant get-up-and-go that comes with keeping the engine in its upper rev range.
But what really separates the CVT-7 from its competitors, is that it can also function like a "conventional" auto, with those seven ratios selected automatically to suit the prevailing conditions and driving style. In this "stepped" auto mode, the Jazz behaves much like other small automatics, but with the benefit of more "gears", more performance and greater efficiency.
Thus the Honda Jazz becomes the only car to offer three distinct gearbox operating modes each accessible at the touch of a button.
One of the not so obvious benefits of the CVT-7 system is its remarkable fuel efficiency. It offers a combined fuel consumption figure of 48.7 mpg, a deficit of just 2% compared with the manual model. This compares with a degradation of typically 8 to 16 per cent for other automatic transmission types fitted to competitor supermini vehicles.
CVT-7 will be available as a £900 cost option on both the Jazz 1.4 i-DSI SE and 1.4 i-DSI SE Sport models from August 2002. Equipment levels will conform to the same high standard as the manual equivalents.Published 1 August 2002