(Drum roll)… and here it is, folks! You read all about the Honda Amaze during our little taster in Japan a few months ago, and Honda has finally revealed the car in India. Without further ado, let’s get right down to brass tacks.
In this segment, the Amaze is by far the best looking car around, beating its immediate rival, the Maruti Dzire, on the looks front. This is primarily because the Amaze looks like the front and rear end were designed by the same person – there’s nothing on the car that looks like it was added as an afterthought. The lines are neat, crisp and upswept, and most importantly, the boot is well integrated into the overall design – and what a boot! There’s 400 litres of space in it, which is more than some cars in higher segments. It’s a fresh looking car, viewed from any angle, and it gained a lot of attention on the roads of Goa, where we drove it.
Honda engineers have pulled off a remarkable feat of engineering with this car. Despite it being a sub-4 metre car in length, the amount of space in the cabin is fantastic. Even with the driver’s seat pushed back, a rear passenger who is near-six feet in height will be able to sit in comfort, without their knees jammed into the seat ahead. Similarly, elbow and head room are both very generous, and the cabin has a cheerful, airy feel to it – as a family car, it looks like it will acquit itself very well. Overall fit and finish is quite good, without being at the level of the Honda City, but there are a few sore points. The brown plastic used to garnish the dashboard is just plain ugly, and the glove-box doesn’t sit flush with the dashboard – its corners jut out in an unseemly fashion. The front seats could also use better under-thigh padding, in my opinion. In all other aspects, the Amazes’ cabin is almost identical to that of the Brio hatchback, and most buyers will have no real cause for complaint. The steering wheel is nice to grip, all controls fall nicely to hand and long trips should be quite comfortable in this car.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX
Now to the meat of the matter. The Amaze, as you know, will feature Honda’s first ever diesel engine in India – a 1.5-litre DOHC i-DTEC motor, putting out 98.6 bhp@3600 rpm and 20.4 kgm@1750 rpm. The diesel is an all-alloy unit, and since these are inherently noisier than cast-iron engines, you will have the unusual experience of hearing a diesel clatter inside a Honda cabin – the sound-deadening could have been better.
In all other aspects, the i-DTEC engine is a gem – it pulls cleanly in almost any part of the rev range, especially lower down, and you won’t find yourself having to constantly change gear. There are no sudden spurts in the powerband, and no turbo lag to speak of either, so driving the diesel is a relaxed experience, both in the city and out on the highway. Honda claims the diesel Amaze will be the most fuel efficient car in the country, bar none, which is quite a statement – I reckon that this car should be good for 12-14 kpl in the city and close to 20 kpl out on the highways, in real-world driving. The gearbox is slick and a joy to use, keeping up with the demands of the engine very well.
The Amaze also gets a petrol engine, the same 1.2-litre unit that you see in the Brio, with the option of an automatic transmission as well. Putting out 86.8 bhp@6000 rpm and 11.1 kgm@4500 rpm, the petrol is also very nice to drive – it manages to compensate quite well for the Amazes’ extra weight over the hatchback. Those who want the typically refined, quiet Honda experience will be impressed with this version, which features slightly different instrumentation.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Amaze has ride quality that’s on the soft side, which is understandable, given that it will primarily be used as a family sedan and not a track-attack car. With a full load of passengers, the ride becomes well settled, with less of the body roll that is evident with less weight. Around corners, the Amaze will satisfy most buyers, except the minority who like to chuck their cars around in a spirited fashion – the steering feel is neutral, the brakes do their job well without quite being feedback-rich and the car ticks almost all the boxes expected from a vehicle in this category.
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
The Amaze is a great product – there’s no doubt about it. Honda has done its research and produced a car that will appeal to a very wide array of people, and it has absolutely nailed the crucial aspects of space, practicality and a diesel powerplant. The last crucial factor is of course price – if Honda plays its cards right and puts a tag below Rs 7 lakh on the diesel, there’s no reason that this car shouldn’t be the sort of success that the company is used to producing.