Comparo: 2010 Honda Jazz vs Mini Cooper S Cabrio
The Mini started life in 1959 as a British car for the masses. Built by the company later known as Austin-Rover, the little car was so cheap that Ford dissassembled one and tried to replicate it, but couldn’t do it cost-effectively and gave up. That Mr. Bean original was in production right up till 2000, when BMW bought out the firm and redesigned the Mini as an expensive niche model. But by 2001, there were already a slew of modern affordable cars to take its place, not least of which is the Honda Jazz. Both the Mini and the Jazz are now in their second generation. But what exactly makes a Mini twice as expensive as a Jazz?
We got our hands on a 2010 Mini Cooper S Cabrio and a 2010 Honda Jazz. Our Cabrio clocks in at around Dhs 140,000, and that too without any options, while our top-spec Jazz comes in at Dhs 71,000.
Even a blind man can figure out that the Honda is larger, but only just. While the Mini follows a traditional two-box shape, the Jazz borders on a one-box minivan profile in its bid to maximise interior space.
A regular Mini does not turn as many heads as it used to. You’d need to put the top down on this one to garner some glances. On the other hand, the Jazz has to occasionally battle taxis and vans to gain some respect, but it is nowhere near as bad as being seen in a Polo. However, neither the Mini nor the Jazz will do anything to boost your manhood.
The Mini wins when it comes to premium materials obviously. Soft-touch trim line the upper dash and doors, with leather seats and funky styling to boot. The Honda Jazz is a hard-plastic tub in comparison, with slivers of cloth on the doors to match the cloth seats, but all well within what is expected in its class. While the Mini is intentionally quirky in its control placements, the Jazz is all straightforward, even if the dash looks odd at first glance.
The Jazz is obviously the most practical here, by a large margin. While the Mini can fit some midgets in the back, the Jazz can seat four fullsize adults in spaciousness that approaches crossover territory. The Mini can fit a few grocery bags in the boot, while the Jazz can be configured to carry your entire year’s shopping. On the road, neither car is supremely comfortable or quiet, although the Jazz does have a mild edge over the Mini Cabrio in overall ride quality.
The turbocharged 172 hp Mini feels ridiculously fast, even with our tested 0-100 kph time of 7.7 seconds. On the other hand, the 118 hp Jazz also feels ridiculously fast, but our tested time of 12.7 seconds means that VTEC engine was actually screaming in vain.
The Mini darts around like an ant, with flat cornering and oodles of grip in any situation. The brakes are strong and the firm steering is sharp, but the throttle response is a bit delayed if not in ‘Sport’ mode. The Jazz does its bit without any ‘Sport’ mode, with flat cornering and confidence-inspiring agility, but only until the unsporting tyres start giving up at higher speeds. The brakes aren’t the best either, with drums in the back, although the light steering is surprisingly sharp.
Both are very economical, the Jazz more so than the Mini of course. We pegged the Jazz at 6.9 litres/100 km, while the Mini Cooper S managed 10.2 litres/100 km, both well under the figures of a typical Toyota Camry. But the Jazz is likely to cost less in long-term maintenance than any BMW product beyond the warranty period.
The Mini Cabrio can go either half or full-topless, while the Jazz can actually be optioned up with a panoramic glass roof that doesn’t open. Both cars come with paddle-shifters, cruise control, MP3 stereo, keyless entry and side airbags. The Mini can be further optioned up with Bluetooth, navigation, sports seats and more, while the Jazz has to be content with its standard USB port.
So is the Jazz a cheaper alternative to the Mini Cooper S? Not even close, although the Honda chassis seems to be a good starting point for aftermarket upgrades. Untouched, the Jazz is still a lot of fun to drive once up to speed, but the Mini takes it further into sports-car territory. However, the Jazz is among the most practical cars in the world. In that way, the funky Mini isn’t an alternative to the Jazz either.
Photos by Faisal Khatib