Honda is dedicating a lot of its resources to ensuring that the i-DTEC powerplant is heavily localised in order to keep the price competitive and to make sure the demand is met. It also makes a lofty promise, claiming this to be the most fuel-efficient engine in the country with a 25.8kpl Indian Driving Cycle rating, despite also being the most powerful in its class.
The Amaze is less than four metres long, its petrol engine displaces less than 1200cc and its diesel less than 1500cc, so it qualifies for the government’s excise benefit on small cars. There are lots of other small but significant features on the car that are a direct result of feedback from Indian customers too, so Honda does seem to have done its home-work. Priced from Rs 4.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the petrol and Rs 5.97 lakh for the all-too-important diesel, it is very competitive. There is definitely a lot riding on this car, so let’s see how well it fares on the road.
The New Honda Amaze is not a major facelift. The front grille gets a thick chrome slat. gets The headlamps are also new, which are borrowed from the Mobilio. A new bumper also finds its way here. It remains the same from the side though. The only differentiation is the new set of alloy wheels and some tweaks to the ORVMs. The rear of the Honda Amaze now looks a lot more smart with the new chrome strip running across between the new tail lamps. The rear bumper is also new.
The antenna of the Honda Amaze facelift has been changed too and it is the new magnetic one. The tyre size on the Amaze facelift remains the same with 14-inch tyres (175/65/R14) and for the top variants it is 185/60/R15, with alloy wheels.
The changes thus though not extensive, do give the car a fresher appearance. It’s the changes to the insides that impressed me the most though. This is the area where owners would spend the maximum time and Honda has reworked the cabin well to offer a better in-car experience. The highlight is the new dashboard, which looks more appealing with its two-tone beige and black appearance. Fit-finish levels are high as expected from Honda, and the cabin exudes a more premium feel. On the whole, the new dash looks nice with its thoughtfully executed, clutter-free layout. I wish the infotainment system screen was bigger and colourful instead of monochrome though. The Amaze also gets Bluetooth connectivity now, apart from the AUX and USB. It gets automatic climate control too, with a large display for the air-conditioning unit.
The steering wheel is the same, but its rim uses a thicker, better feeling material which makes it chunkier to hold. The revised clocks look better too, which means the cockpit is a better feeling place now. The Amaze also gets redesigned door trims which give it a more upmarket feel, and do a good job of it. These interiors are the same as the upcoming BR-V, and work well in offering a more
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
Powering the updated Amaze are the same set of engines as before. The diesel is powered by the 4-cylinder, 1.5-litre i-DTEC which produces 100 PS of power at 3600 RPM and 200 Nm torque at 1750 RPM. This motor fares quite well in terms of performance and fuel efficiency but was known to be noisy when compared to the competition. Honda claims they have improved upon the NVH levels with better insulation. This oil burner performs very well in the low and mid range of the rev band which makes it quite practical in most driving situations. Power fades off as you go to the higher end of the rev band. This engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual transmission which offers decent shifts but isn’t the smoothest shifting box in the segment.
Under the hood of the petrol version is a 1.2-litre, i-VTEC engine producing 88 PS at 6000 RPM and 109 Nm at 4500 RPM. This comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Honda is known for gasoline powertrains and this i-VTEC is quite rev happy and performs very well in the mid and high end of the rev meter. Low end grunt is average as with most petrol engines. This engine loves to be revved and pulls quite cleanly once you give it the beans.
Previously Honda was offering the Amaze with a 5-speed automatic transmission but the Japanese manufacturer has done away with this and has now slotted in a CVT transmission. This makes more sense as the CVT has infinite number of gear ratios making it more practical in most driving situations. We had a short spin in the CVT variant and it was quite easy navigating through peak hour Delhi traffic. However, it gets too noisy as you go higher up the rev band and progress isn’t brisk as you would get in a manual. The CVT version is more fuel efficient than its manual counterpart and produces 90 PS at 6000 RPM and 110 Nm torque at 4800 RPM.
The ride quality in the Amaze is just about right. There is a bit of body roll, but the suspension is overall tuned to handle city roads. Compared to the Brio, though similar, the suspension set up at the front and the rear have been tweaked in the Amaze to handle the increased weight.
We can’t expect this entry-sedan to compete with the likes of its bigger sibling – the City – in this department. But, compared to similar sedans the Amaze manages to make the cut. The bulkier Swift DZire may just be a bit more agile than the Amaze. But that could change by the time the car makes it here. My test car came with 14-inch wheels and 175 / 65 R14 MRF radials. The final trim levels may include 15-inch rims too.
The steering felt well weighted and wasn’t unusually light or oriented towards being over-assistive. Though it was difficult to test the car at high speeds on the short track with a speed limit also being enforced, there were a few corners where the steering’s abilities could be tried out and I liked the fact that I could direct the car precisely.
The Amaze has been one of the top sellers from Honda off late and the trend is bound to continue for the time to come. The Amaze is a practical compact sedan which delivers on almost every front, be it interior space, performance or fuel economy. The potent diesel engine also happens to be the most powerful in its segment. What the Amaze lacks is some additional equipment like Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, etc., most of which is standard in its latest Korean rival. However, the Amaze is quite involving to drive and the Honda badge does carry hefty brand value making it an option seriously worth considering, if you are looking to buy a compact sedan.