Honda’s Amaze‘O’meter Put To Test: Expert Review

Words: Atul Bandhu

Photography: Beeba M Singh & Atul Bandhu

I happened to have tested the Amaze not so long ago in 2013 when I was looking for new Diesel vehicle for my family use. At that time the market was ruled by the Swift Dzire with no vehicle nowhere near it. Well thing were not going to be same as Honda had introduced its first diesel unit in a brand new vehicle. Obvious this was a reason enough and I just couldn’t contain my excitement and went to test the new kid on the block. Time to test the Diesel Amaze, a glance at it was enough to identify its genes with the Brio, but unlike other compact sedans then this was a properly designed car and didn’t give an impression that the boot was forcibly added on a hatchback. Stepping inside the cabin was plush, with lots of room, on the downside the cabin was a complete lift from Brio. The moment I cranked up the engine it felt like the windows are open, which unfortunately weren’t. I had to deal with the fact that engine noise was filtering into the cabin, not just that there was also tons of vibrations to make me uncomfortable. Driving the 100bhp diesel unit made me forget all of it. Catering to Indian needs of fuel efficiency the figures of the car then ware highest in Indian market, making it more favourable prospect for Honda. That moment I realised that this engine will turn the fortune of Honda in India and as we say rest is history.

Comes 2016, well times have changed the new kids on the block is now a well-established player in the Indian market accounting to nearly 40% of Honda sales and the pride of many Indian households.

The launch of the new Amaze in 2016 was a very crucial point for Honda as well the Indian market. Given the new class that is getting more limelight than hatchbacks and compact SUV’s, this makes competition even more cut-throat. Now every major player has a product in this class. This update of Honda Amaze was going to decide the fate of the company for next few years.

Let me tell you the launch did put an end to all those questions. The new Amaze looks fresh outside, inside and the way it drives. Most glitches have been tweaked out to bring out an Amazing experience to the customer.

Engine

The Amazing 1.5L i-Dtec unit churns out 100bhp and 200Nm of torque and feels much more refined when you put your foot down. The car has some turbo-lag but that is least amongst all cars in its segment. Coming to the areas of concern the cabin noise and vibrations, although NVH levels have decreased, the diesel unit can still be heard while sitting inside but not like the previous model. As far as vibrations are concerned they are gone for good. Above all the car returns a company claimed 25.8 kmpl of mileage, which is the perfect dressing for this new age dish.

Ride and Handling

The ride quality is neither too soft nor too stiff making it ideal for city as well as highway use. There is fair amount of body roll if you take a fast corner and the tyres also tend to loose grip in such situations. The steering is light and precise but weighs up with speed, keeping the car pointed in the right direction at all times, even when you push it hard isn’t difficult to maintain precision. No!!! its not as fun to drive as the Swift Dzire, afterall some compromises have to be made for refinement. With steering mounted controls one need not take their hands off the wheel for operating the stereo. However the button to pick up calls in positioned on the stereo panel, an addition of phone switch on the steering would have made operation easier.

Braking

The most essential component that is often undermined is the Braking. Like all Honda cars the Amaze has amazing braking power. Well of all the compact sedans I have driven till date the Amaze should be awarded the best braking award in its segment. The brake have such a good bite and it just inspires you to take the car to its limit. I can’t really say that for any other car in this segment. The confidence provided by its braking power ensures that you stay in control all the time. Upsizing the tyres will further enhance this experience but will certainly reduce the fuel efficiency. So that is a call that we would to leave onto the end consumer.

Exteriors

The car looks fresh with new and commanding front grill and redesigned bumpers. You also notice the addition of side indicators on the ORVM’s which are also automatically retractable with just a push of a button. The rear end gets the most noticeable change with a new pair of tail-lamps that gives the car an even more contemporary look. The large headlamps even though tinged black do a fairly good job of lighting up the tarmac, even better than its elder sibling City. The downside being the grab handles on the doors being very thin and fragile and don’t give a solid feel at all. There is nothing more to complain about.

Interiors

Step inside the new Honda Amaze and you’ll realise how different it is compared to the previous model. Honda has managed to bring in an all new dash and boy one doesn’t feel like sitting inside a Brio anymore. The wide squarer central console resembles the one in new-gen City with the music player in piano black finish and climate control. The steering of adequate size and feels nice and chunky to hold. The car gets ample storage space inside with bottle holders, door pockets and storage space in the front console. The steering is adjustable for rake only and the driver seat height adjustable to give you the perfect driving position. Leather steering wrap and front central armrest are available as add on accessories. The seats are carved for additional leg space and can accommodate five adults comfortably with ample leg and shoulder room. The carved seats are too thin and make backside ache when used for longer durations. The seats have integrated headrests and Honda has not given an option to choose between integrated or separate headrests like Toyota has done with the Etios.

Figures

Diesel – 1.5L iDtec 4cyl, 100bhp, 200Nm

Dimensions – 3990x1680x1505mm

Boot capacity- 400litres

Ground Clearance- 165mm

Verdict

Honda Amaze with time has become the measuring stick for all compact sedans in the market today. The first challenge they face is to square off with the Honda’s brand image and reliability factor, then comes the fuel-efficiency figures of Amaze, followed by the 100bhp of  power in a light body and a very capable chassis. Those wonderful brakes definitely seal the deal. Only Ford Aspire comes close to this car but the service network and reliability of the brand in India doesn’t pose any market threat to the Amaze. The only real competition it has is the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and with this update we definitely think that the Amaze will sell more volumes inching close to Dzire in the market.

Few Let Downs

Engine Noise filtering into the cabin

Skinny tyres

Petite seats

Thin door handles

Only integrated headrests on offer

Direct competition from Maruti Suzuki Dzire

No option of a Diesel Automatic

Whats My Take?

Clichéd but true “there is no replacement for displacement” Honda’s 1.5 iDtec is a better motor compared to the 1.3 DDiS on offer from Maruti. The quality of the cabin is superior. The wear and tear on a Honda car far less compared to its competitors…..Toyota is also up there but we are talking about cars for personal use as of now.

If we deck up cards of all the cars in this segment Honda Amaze does emerge to have the thickest bundle. In an ultimate showdown Amaze can’t score win as the Joker of masses is with Maruti always and that’s the only trump card that Honda has to acquire with time. Once that is done, Amaze will emerge as the market leader in sales too. All said that probability is at horizon and I see that happening only with the next-gen Amaze.

To the taste of many; Dzire is a lot more fun to drive, agreed but I prefer cars that have linear delivery of power. For me the Dzire just goes crazy as it enters the turbo range and the lunge forward and that’s a major factor for all the hits the car takes on road in city traffic. On the other hand the Amaze does it all in a unilateral way putting you in command always.

Driving it day in and day out, I would say that major glitches have been tweaked out. Overall Honda Amaze benchmarks all parameters of a compact sedans in India. It does everything so well that I consider this to be the ‘Measuring Stick’ of this segment and the car doesn’t fail to Amaze with its usability  and practicality.

Should you consider buying this car over others? Definitely. Will I consider buying this car? Yes but I would straightaway upsize the tyres and change the front seats. As per your use you can let the seats be and add covers with extra cushioning, but upsizing the tyres are highly recommended.

Price (Ex-showroom Delhi)

Amaze 1.5 E MT (i-DTEC) Diesel:                Rs. 6,53,400

Amaze 1.5 E (OP) MT (i-DTEC) Diesel:        Rs. 6,65,400

Amaze 1.5 S MT (i-DTEC) Diesel:                 Rs. 7,41,400

Amaze 1.5 S (OP) MT (i-DTEC) Diesel:        Rs. 7,53,400

Amaze 1.5 SX MT (i-DTEC) Diesel:              Rs. 7,93,500

Amaze 1.5 VX MT (i-DTEC) Diesel:             Rs. 8,31,400

Detailed Photographs