Honda's Jade combines verve with versatility

The six-seater Honda Jade (left) has a cosy cabin with premium fit and finish (right) and a third row (above) that can be flipped down to transport bulky items.
The six-seater Honda Jade (above) has a cosy cabin with premium fit and finish and a third row that can be flipped down to transport bulky items.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The six-seater Honda Jade (left) has a cosy cabin with premium fit and finish (right) and a third row (above) that can be flipped down to transport bulky items.
The six-seater Honda Jade has a cosy cabin with premium fit and finish and a third row (above) that can be flipped down to transport bulky items.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The six-seater Honda Jade (left) has a cosy cabin with premium fit and finish (right) and a third row (above) that can be flipped down to transport bulky items.
The six-seater Honda Jade has a cosy cabin with premium fit and finish (above) and a third row that can be flipped down to transport bulky items.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Car owners looking for a spacious, classy wagon might find Honda's new six-seater an attractive option

The Stream was Honda's answer to Toyota's Wish, but it was not nearly as successful as the hot-selling multi-purpose vehicle.

The Stream is now replaced by the Jade.

Will the new car make Wish owners green with envy?

Probably not. Because the Jade is not an MPV in the traditional sense. It is more akin to a station wagon with a third row of seats.

The car is slightly bigger than the Stream, with a wheelbase that is 20mm longer at 2,760mm. It is also lower slung than the Stream.

It seats six, not seven. Occupants in the first two rows get wide cushy chairs with armrests. The last two seats are really for the occasional fifth or sixth passenger.

  • SPECS / HONDA JADE

  • PRICE: $131,999 with COE ENGINE: 1,496cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    POWER: 150bhp at 5,500rpm

    TORQUE: 203Nm at 1,600-5,000rpm

    TRANSMISSION: Continuously variable transmission with paddle shift

    0-100KMH: 9.5 seconds

    TOP SPEED: 205kmh

    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 6.4 litres/100km

    AGENT: Kah Motor

Even so, the Jade will still be adequate for biggish families with growing children. The younger ones will fit quite nicely in the third row, while the teens or grandparents go to the middle row.

For small families, the third row can be flipped down to free up space for sports gear, flat-pack furniture or the family pooch.

In that sense, the Jade is unique among non-European cars. It is the only Japan-made wagon which accommodates more than five.

It is unique in another area - its drivetrain.

The Honda is powered by a 1.5litre turbocharged engine, making it the first Japanese multi-seater to have a forced induction power plant.

With 150bhp and 203Nm pouring out from 1,600rpm, the Jade has what it takes to leave other Japanese people carriers far behind.

Zero to 100kmh is accomplished in 9.5 seconds, compared with the 1.8-litre Stream's 11.4 seconds.

Top speed is a respectable 205kmh, versus the Stream's 193kmh.

And because it is a 1.5-litre, owners enjoy a lower road tax and better fuel economy.

These qualities alone make the Jade an attractive option for folks who want verve with versatility.

It is a pretty good-looking car too. For sure, it is the sleekest multi-seat carrier around. Its broad, compressed form reminds you of the previous Honda Odyssey - a much- loved MPV which looked like no other.

It has a decent array of amenities as well.

Keyless system, cruise control, paddle shift, dual-zone climate control wth rear blower, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, six airbags (including curtain airbags), economy-drive mode with stop-start function, electrically adjustable front seats and LED headlamps are all standard issue.

The only thing that is a little out of place in the car is a foot-operated parking brake.

You would have thought an electric system would be more in step with such a youthful car.

Now, we know MPV owners often have to compromise on driving pleasure. But they will not have to with the Jade.

The car drives well. It has the breeziness of a turbo, but you sense the engine is tuned for efficiency at the same time.

It offers adequately brisk response, but not the overt punchiness you get from a European turbo.

Its chassis has a fine blend of comfort and dynamism, with the balance slightly tilted towards comfort.

At the helm, the car feels significantly smaller than its actual size, which is a good thing. Driven with enthusiasm, the Jade shows off the agility and body control of a taut hatch, without the bristling undertone.

Its steering is responsive and suitably weighty, but lacks directness and feel - a downside of most electrically powered steering systems these days. The brakes are effective and easy to modulate for comfortable stops.

The cabin is cosy, with premium fit and finish and superb insulation.

All in all, it is a very convincing proposition.

And while it is unlikely to make many Wish owners jealous, it may make those who drive wagons sit up and take notice.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Jade with value'. Print Edition | Subscribe