A few years ago Honda decided to restructure their product portfolio to reach a larger number of customers. The focus changed from premium offerings like the Civic and Accord to smaller cars like the Brio and Amaze. This was a smart move since the volumes lie in the smaller car segment when it comes to India. The Brio, by itself, may not have done too well for the Japanese manufacturer but more than half of Hondas products are based on the same platform. (Amaze, Mobilio and the upcoming Honda BR-V). Indian regulations of excise benefits to sub 4-metre cars and the love for 3 box design has made compact sedans very popular and Honda entered this challenging segment with the launch of the Amaze in 2013. Check Ex Showroom Price of Amaze
With so many compact sedans out there in the market, what really sets the Honda Amaze apart from the rest is the design. To be more specific, we are talking about proportions which are pretty sedan like contrary to the trend which makes compact cars look rather ungainly. Honda’s ‘Man Maximum Machine Minimum’ principle is clearly highlighted here with abundant space available in the cabin. The compact engine bay has translated into one of the roomiest cabins in the segment. Quality levels are pretty Honda like throughout. With the odometer reading nearly 10,000 kms, there was no rattle or squeak from any part of the car.
The Honda Amaze gets a major change on the inside. It gets an all new glossy black dashboard with centre console resembling the Honda City. This new dashboard gives the car a premium feel. Now, there is a new in-dash music system layout and even climate control too. A new instrument cluster too has been added to the Amaze., however the same steering wheel is retained. The new Amaze facelift comes with a similar set of features like integrated music system with bluetooth, steering mounted audio controls, dual airbags, ABS, climate control AC being some of them.
Where the Honda Amaze has an advantage over the competition, it is the rear seat space. The rear seat knee room and head room are one of the best in its segment. The Amaze with its 400 litres of boot space is one of the largest in its segment. The Amaze is a practical compact sedan and this is what works in its favour
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
Under the hood the Amaze still uses the same 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines as before. We got to drive the manual petrol version, and the petrol engine in the Amaze has always been a likeable unit with its refinement. I would have expected some more pep from the motor but that’s not saying it doesn’t feel lively in its current avatar, offering 88PS and 109Nm of torque. The Amaze feels adept at its job of being a compact, zippy car to drive, especially in the city. We got to experience it in South Delhi’s traffic, which can be quite a challenge even in the afternoon. And that’s the typical domain for the Amaze, since most buyers will spend most of their time driving in traffic. The five-speed manual transmission is as slick as ever, offering precise shifts.
The ride quality is plush as before and the suspension continues to offer a likeable blend of handling and comfort. The Amaze is indeed a comfortable car if you are a family of four with its kind of space inside as well, which is another important reason behind the car’s success. Further, Honda is claiming NVH levels on the diesel version of the Amaze are better than before now, but sadly we did not get to experience the car thanks to the petrol getting allotted to us. The 1.5-litre diesel engine offers 100PS and 200Nm of torque, which is impressive for the segment. I did not get a chance to drive the CVT-equipped version either – something I was keen on experiencing since Honda is saying the transmission has been worked upon extensively to offer good efficiency.
Honda is also offering dual airbags as an option even on the base variant of the Amaze, and in fact will offer dual airbags as standard on all its cars to be launched the next financial year onwards. Finally, pricing for the new Amaze begins at Rs 5.30 lakh ex-showroom New Delhi for the base petrol variant. The VX (CVT), the top of the line petrol costs Rs 8.20 lakh ex-showroom. The base diesel variant of the Amaze is priced at Rs 6.41 lakh, while the top of the line diesel version, though manual, costs the same as the CVT petrol at Rs 8.20 lakh. That might be a small premium over the older car, but is negligible when you consider the new features and the enhanced feel inside, which makes it feel more upmarket. It is nice to see how a rather mild facelift and the addition of new-age features have brought the Amaze back in the game.
RIDE AND HANDLING
Because of the suspension’s long travel, the saloon handles larger bumps and craters very well, but because it is a bit stiffly set up, smaller undulations do unsettle it slightly. The relatively small 14-inch wheels don’t help either. To find a middle ground, Honda engineers tuned the springs for stiffness and the dampers for comfort, and added a stabiliser bar at the rear. The front dampers and springs have also been retuned for the diesel Amaze to cope with the extra weight of the bigger engine, but the difference is barely perceptible. The suspension itself is pretty quiet, but the car’s poor overall sound insulation means you will hear a lot of road and wind noise – the downside of Honda’s interior space maximising efforts.
All this suspension work has not come at the expense of handling, however. In fact, the longer wheelbase only adds confidence as you go faster, and when you’re going around corners. The electrically assisted steering is very accurate, and although it’s very light at low speeds, it does weigh up a little when you go faster. The diesel’s steering has been given added power assistance to handle the greater weight in the nose, but it still feels a touch heavier, and more reassuring, than the petrol.
Honda’s claim of 25.8kpl for the i-DTEC engine is rated on the Indian Driving Cycle test. The good news is this engine still performs admirably in real-world conditions. Our tests returned 15.2kpl in urban conditions and 20.8kpl out on the highway, which is way ahead of its rivals. Honda says this engine’s efficiency belies its cubic capacity thanks to an ultra-low friction design, lightweight internals and a special ultra-low-viscosity engine oil developed specially for it.
Honda will finally be able to take the fight to the diesel club with the Amaze. I expect Honda to announce competitive prices ranging upwards approximately from Rs. 5.1 lakh for the base petrol and Rs. 6.2 lakh for the base diesel variant. The new Amaze diesel could also manage a mileage in the region of 14 kmpl to 20 kmpl depending on driving conditions and styles.
For now, hold on to your questions about whether there will be an automatic transmission variant of the Amaze and whether the new 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine could be used in Honda’s other cars like the Jazz and the City. We will get answers to those questions soon.