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When Two Becomes One | Honda Jade RS

BY Azfar Hashim

One of Singapore's underrated family car, why does Honda's turbocharged Jade deserve attention?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

Previously if you wanted a Japanese MPV, the Honda Odyssey is the car to get. But that proved to be a tad big for most families – so the Stream came along and everyone in the neighbourhood bought one.

Singaporean’s love for MPVs didn’t end there though. The parallel-imported Edix entered the market and despite having a unique 3+3-seating configuration, was snapped up very quickly. At the same time, there was the wagon Airwave – even that sold like hot cakes.

Briefly, there was the Fit Wagon. And now there’s the Shuttle, which is another wagon. So, to put it rather simply, Honda has the MPV and wagon segment all covered in Singapore, and drivers on this little red dot seem to have a penchant for whatever this Japanese brand whips out.

It hasn’t ended. The newest model to add on to this comes in the form of the Jade RS, a turbocharged MPV that’s not an MPV; neither is it a wagon. Heck, even Honda wasn’t sure what to classify it as, choosing to label it as a ‘sporty family car’.

Whatever it is, the Jade RS is a good option for all of you who want a wagon with the space of an MPV, together with some touch of style.

It has the overall size of an MPV, measuring in at 4,660 long, 1,777 mm wide, 1,531 mm tall and with a wheelbase of 2,760 mm; mind you, these figures are actually greater than the once popular Stream, which is 90 mm shorter, 82 mm narrower, and has a wheelbase that’s 20 mm lesser. And all these do not show all thanks to Honda’s clever design that masked it – they made the car sit 14 mm lower to the ground (again, compared to the Stream) and gave it the overall silhouette of the previous generation Odyssey. Although this opinion of mine that’s coming will be highly subjective, I like it a lot – just look at the MPV segment, and you’ll notice how nothing else is as handsome as this.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel would actually be nice

A flat-bottomed steering wheel would actually be nice

Then we enter the cabin, which is rather fuss-free all thanks to the fact that the rear doors open wide. The cockpit is uncluttered and well put together, which is brilliant; at the same time, the control buttons are uncomplicated and you do not need an encyclopedia to decipher what button does what; on the center console sits a locally-fitted audio head-unit that doubles up as a reverse camera monitor, and directly below it are buttons specifically for the climate control.

Probably inspired by the previous generation FD Civic, the speedo, tacho and entire gin-gang comes in digital form. It’s a cool touch and should impress tech geeks – the downside is if it fails, it surely won’t be cheap to replace…

Second row seats adjusts for multiple angle - lovely for road trips

Second row seats adjusts for multiple angle - lovely for road trips

The whole point of an MPV is maximized passenger space, so to see Honda going against the norm was quite a surprise. Instead of the typical 3+2 configuration, the Jade gets a 2+2 meaning two adult passengers get their individual seats in the second row, just like in Business Class. The third row’s bench can be folded away to provide almost van-like loading space, or if you need to ferry human beings, it could accommodate up to two tweens. Well frankly you could still fit two average-sized adults back there over short distances, but for longer trips, it’s best done with both removing their legs first. Yup.

Powering the Jade is Honda’s 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged VTEC powerplant that’s mated to the brand’s CVT gearbox aka Earth Dreams. With that combination, power output stands at 148 bhp while maximum torque some 203 Nm. Of least importance here is the zero to hero timing, which Honda quoted as 9.5 seconds; not that shabby considering the Touran needs 0.3 seconds longer to achieve the same act. Even the equally turbocharged Zafira would need 1.4 seconds longer.

Environmentalists should rejoice at the sight of this button

Environmentalists should rejoice at the sight of this button

If you were expecting the sort of forward-moving alacrity and tenacity of its Type-R brethren, I would have to say, firstly, sorry and secondly, you need to read a review of something else. This is a – ahem – family runner after all, so you would need to manage your expectations.

Weld the accelerator to the floor and the Jade zooms to the next traffic junction in a good manner; along the way, you will notice how additional power from the turbocharger makes its presence felt in a progressive manner that doesn’t shock occupants rudely. Even when the car is fully loaded, it doesn’t seem to run out of puff, choosing to power on confidently. One thing to note however is how a little gruff it sounded past 4,000 rpm.

Body-roll can be felt, which is a given considering its overall size. Despite that, the chassis is still able to handle spirited driving along twisty roads with the steering providing an overall positive feel and response. It could still give more, but unfortunately the standard Dunlop tyres complains rather early.

At the same time, the suspension is still perfectly sorted for the daily commute. It felt just like the Golf, giving a good sport/comfort balance. Undeniably bumpy when driven along the KPE, but its nothing you cannot get used to – I should know, as my journey from home to office every single day takes me into Singapore’s bumpiest stretch of tarmac, and by the second day, my spine still didn’t disconnect.

Very frankly I like the Jade RS, and how it toes the line between being an MPV and a wagon. Initially, it seemed like another run-of-the-mill family mover, but if you were to scrutinize the entire car, there's no denying how it scores highly in terms of user-friendliness along with a driving experience that’s far from drab.

The only issues I had? It needs a set of better tyres, and brakes that has more feel – get the two sorted and you have a brilliant car.