Late in June, on a very average day of my life, I get a call. A call from some one on behalf of Honda India asking if NexGenBikes.com is interested to send some one to take a test drive of a new Honda product (The all New 2015 Honda Jazz) around the BIC. The mighty Buddh International circuit.
What would be your reply, what would be anyone’s reply if you, all of a sudden get a chance to be at the Mecca for all auto heads of India, the mighty Formula 1 race track, the Buddh International Circuit. That too an all expense paid trip.
Hell Yeah, I said.
Soon the tickets arrive and that beautiful Saturday morning.
Journey to Buddh International Circuit
As always with us, those who go to bed late and awake up late, catching an early morning flight is always a pain. But who cares, since the big day awaits. Woke up my 4.30 AM and reached the Kolkata AirPort by 5.30 AM for the 7 AM flight to Delhi. Unlike the previous terminal, new building in Kolkata is awesome as after check in, you get a nice view in the waiting gates.
There was no delay and soon I was in the Delhi bound flight. But the weather was at its worse up there over central India as our flight continued to face hard turbulence. As a result, seat belt sign was on throughout the flight and we were stuck in those uncomfortable no leg room seats while wondering about the meals tasting like yawk.
Delhi AirPort and Journey to Buddh
I was not the only one, there were other dignitaries too, so had to wait a little in the Airport while Honda guys rounded us up one by one as their respective flights landed. Withing no time we were off to the hotel to put down our luggage and head towards the Buddh International Circuit.
The facility is beside the new Yamuna Express Highway and its around 50 kms from the Delhi Airport.
The Delhi traffic, even on Saturday, also was high, took us some time to navigate and reach there. But we make it with all that excitement of being on the track.
The Launch Event (2015 Honda Jazz)
We were there on July 04, where as the public release of the car was scheduled few days later on July 08, so we were in for a special preview and soft launch of the product.
It followed by the keynotes by some key Honda people, like Mr. Katsushi Inoue (President Honda India) and Miss Anita (Program director) sharing technical details and know how of this new car.
Honda launched Jazz in India on 2009 but turned out to be a market flop, Honda tried to recover with pricing cuts by 2011 but still being petrol only and presence of Fiat Multi-Jet diesel engines, Honda discontinued Jazz, although a fine product.
This time around, there will be no such mistake as we see from below specs,
100 ps engine (1.5L i-DTEC, same as City, Amaze and Mobilo)
6 speed gear box (Nice touch, city missed out on this)
27.3 kmpl as per ARAI (Fiat sourced MJD engines has less power with lesser mileage)
1.2 L i-VTED engine needs no intro here, 90ps with the smoothest engine in its class even beyond
5 Speed Auto and there is a CVT AT option available too.
The Car is feature loaded and expected to match the attention of what other premium hatch, such as i20 receives but with an impressive 5-8 Lakh price bracket.
The car is already a hit with more than 3000 pre bookings on the card.
The 2015 Honda Jazz
We weren’t allowed to take the car out in public roads, it was a closed door preview so excuse us for the pictures. By the way, even the Honda India President, Mr. Katsushi him self took out his camera to take a few snaps.
Introduction to the BIC Track Operation
Do you people remember the quote, there’s more than meets the eye ? That is the case with a full blow International F1 track.
Before we could start the drive, we were handed over to the BIC people, the track marshals and officials, who gave us an inside view of the operation along with the basic training. Although I used the word basic, but for us, the common man, it was an extensive run down for the track operation.
The facility is huge. Covering an area as big as an International Airport. The track in total is around 5.5 kms. The track itself has more than 50 HD high FPS video camera, which can turn 360deg. At any point of the time, track boss can view a car anywhere in the track with 3 camera angle. There are multiple rescue units, who can reach an accident spot, anywhere in the track within 180 seconds max. The track is littered with sensors covering any technical aspect you can imagine.
Walk into the Buddh International Circuit Race Control room and you may feel like being into the Space command center of Nasa. Truly, they can sense and monitor every grain of dust on the track from here.
The Drive around Buddh F1 Track
Once we complete our safety and rules briefing, we head down stairs to the pit lane to take the wheels of 2015 Jazz.
Every car had its own instructor with radio control, connected to the control room. It was not a race rather friendly drive and rightly so, since track was completely different than real life driving conditions. So many instructions what we had to follow.
Although the Jazz is not designed to be a F1 car and one can’t expect the out of the world acceleration or no body roll cornering agility but we loved pushing both the i-DTEC and i-VTEC around the track.
Frankly speaking, although it was an life time experience, thanks to Honda to be on a International F1 track, but Jazz is not meant for the track.
- Suspension is soft, understandably for Indian roads for a comfortable ride quality.
- The engine is butter smooth and tuned for balance between road performance and Fuel Economy but in a F1 track, that too the fastest track in the world, it felt lacking that punch.
- The A Pillar issue is still there, but with that small A pillar window, one should not face issue in the road, but in the track at high speed right handers, it felt bit scary to have a blocked view upfront.
Car felt comfortable and really smooth but in the track, when you are so busy looking out for radio instruction, trying to remember and stay on “race line”, looking out for other cars, it was hard to judge the true potential for the machine.
Every aspect of this car is made to give you the utmost comfort. Power delivery is good, linear and smooth. So is the brakes and suspension !!
Honda, if you are you listing, we would love to have a test car for couple of days to test it in the urban jungle, city roads, for which it is made. Track doesn’t do true justice to this extremely potent city or even highway warrior.
Good Bye Buddh
Every good dream has its end. So is this one also.
As the sun started to set and natural light faded away, it was time for us to pull back into the pits to call it a day.
There was lot what we learnt at Buddh. Thanks to Honda, we experienced the ultimate word of motor racing. With the Final lap completing, we kept wondering about so many things, specially the sorrow, which started to fill the heart like the darkness was filling the track, since it was a life time opportunity and we didn’t want to leave.
Sadden, tired, heavy hearten drivers slowly made their way up to the lounge to find a wonderful party thrown by Honda PR team to cheer us up. Food, Music and off course friendly chat with top brass of Honda was just the thing needed and Honda didn’t make any mistake arranging for that.
NexGenBikes.com had a long, friendly and off course, off the record chat with Mr. Katsushi Inoue, the president of Honda India. We discussed so many things about Honda and its plan for India, specially about the possibility of CRV diesel. But sorry, as promised to Honda, we can only share the official version, No Comment on that !!
Track experience is something we believe every driver, specially the young people should always target to have. At least once in life time. BIC and its tour or training changed our outlook towards driving and safety. We are thankful to Honda for allowing us to experience the Jazz on the track but as I already said, Jazz is not exactly a track machine. Yes it has more than adequate power for the normal roads and 6 speed gear box for those mile munching trips on highway, but track doesn’t quite give us the ability to test the true potential of the car as a complete package.
The car which is made after 15 years of development and continues evaluation deserve to be on the road.
If Honda is listing, do lend us the car for couple of days so that we can share our views with our readers about the true potential of this wonderful machine of yours in the city roads.