By now we have seen the third-generation all-new 2014 Honda Jazz launched in Malaysia. You can read all about Honda's latest B-segment car here, but put aside for a moment all that. We have a very different, more humourous story to tell about the Honda Jazz, a story that has been verified from our chat with the Jazz's Assistant Large Project Leader Mr. Daisuke Uragami, who was also involved in the first-generation Honda Jazz.
In 2001, Honda was preparing to launch its Jazz in its home market of Japan. The model was very important for Honda as it is supposed to showcase Honda's latest global small platform, which promised to offer a cabin space that rivaled many small MPVs and larger sedans of that era, while at the same time maintaining a very urban-friendly, small exterior body with a tight turning circle ideal for Japan's notoriously tight roads.
While consumers on this side of the world will know the car seen here as the Jazz, the model is known as the Fit in Japan and the US. Since Japan is the Jazz's main market, the car that we all know as the Jazz made its world debut under the 'Fit' nameplate.
What was not widely known by many was that 'Fit' was not the original name that Honda had planned for the model.
Initially, the car had been decided to be launched as the 'Fitta.' It sounded hip and has a European flair to it. Preparations were well under way for the car to be launched as the Fitta, but at the last moment, someone within Honda found that the 'Fitta' name had a very different, not so classy meaning in Swedish.
Fitta in Swedish is literally translated as a vulgar description of a vagina.
The tagline for the Jazz/Fit was supposed to be 'Small on the outside, big on the inside.' Now imagine a Swedish person reading a Honda advertisement that says - 'The all-new Fitta, small on the outside, big on the inside.'
Uragami-san laughed when he recalled the experience. He explained that Fitta name not only had problems in Sweden, but also in Spain and Italy, where the name also sounds similar to some other vulgar words.
But luckily for Honda, the problem was caught early on as the company has the process of gathering feedbacks from many different markets before a decision is made for the model's nameplate.
Needless to say, Honda now sells the car under the Jazz nameplate.
As for why some markets use the Jazz name instead of Fit. The simple answer is because in some regions, Honda sells/used to sell a motorcycle under the Jazz name, so the name could not be used. Canada is one such example. To optimize the use of marketing resources, regional markets often use the same name, so that is one reason why the North American market uses the Fit name instead of the Jazz.
Over in the Asia-Ocenia region, Honda distributors in the region have come to an agreement that the Jazz name is preferred over Fit, hence the decision to adopt the Jazz name instead of its Japanese-market Fit name.