The Amaze has been one of the more successful cars in India both for Honda as well as the compact sedan segment. It’s been around for three years now so the Japanese car maker felt that this is a good time to give it an upgrade. Specially with a growing list of some worthy rivals including the likes of Maruti Dzire and Hyundai Xcent, the Amaze was losing some of its sheen and certainly with the added features and design elements a serious attempt has been made to make the car look more appealing. At a time when a lot of sub compact SUVs are arriving on the scene, it’s a bumpy road ahead for the sub 4 meter sedans, and Honda must be hoping that the car takes both the company as well as the segment on a path of growth. Around 2 lakh customers in just 3 years in an impressive number to boast and the company must be hoping for an even better performance this time around.
Honda has done a lot of exterior changes to make the new Amaze look significantly different from its predecessor and that’s a step in the right direction. On the front almost everything has changed. Now there’s a bolder and wider stance and everything from the bumper to the grille as well as the headlamps are new. The good thing is that some key design elements like lines along the profile or the rear chrome strip, have been retained and the combination of old and new elements works well on the car. The Amaze has been one of the few cars in the segment where the boot has been integrated really well into the car and the story continues here as well. Look at the car from the profile and it looks like a complete sedan and not an extension of a hatch. And now with this upgrade it looks like a mini version of the very popular latest generation of the Honda City.
Seems like Honda was in no mood to leave anything to chance. The interiors are a notch above of what they were in the predecessor and are set to give the competition a run for their money. The look and feel is certainly better and so are the quality of materials used. There’s a new digital instrument cluster that gives display in 3D and gives information like Driving Range, Instantaneous and Average Fuel Efficiency and Ambient Temperature. A a new infotainment system has an Integrated Bluetooth Audio System with Hands Free Telephone & Mobile Phone Audio Streaming. The Air Conditioner is now Automatic, with a knob-less design and a digital display. The lower variants also adopt a similar theme of Big Screen Digital Display with Digital AC controls. At some points the cabin also gives subtle cues on what to expect when the new 7-seater from Honda the BR-V arrives in a couple of months. The fabric on the seats has also improved to ensure a more comfortable seating experience though the headrests remain integrated. There’s a rear center arm rest and but things like a rear parking camera and rear AC vents still don’t find a place on the Amaze. The wheelbase remains the same, so does the interior space as well as the boot space.
There are both Petrol and Diesel options, but the big change on this facelift is the introduction of a CVT gearbox. The best thing is that on this drivetrain, Honda is claiming a fuel efficiency that is even better than the manual Petrol variant. And it’s also more powerful. Both are powered by the 1.2 Litre i-VTEC that engine that delivers a maximum power of 88 PS for manual and 90 PS for CVT gearbox. The CVT has worked really well in other Honda cars like the City and Jazz and it a very timely and worthy addition to the car. The popular 1.5 Litre i-DTEC diesel engine of Earth Dream Technology offers a highly impressive fuel economy of 25.8 km/l. This engine delivers a maximum power of 100PS@3600rpm and maximum torque of 200 Nm@1750 rpm. It has been mated with 5-speed Manual Transmission that is light, compact but not as slick more so when you’re downshifting.
Ride & Handling
Apart from the CVT gearbox another area where the Amaze scores really well is in its NVH levels. Now this was some sort of an issue with the car earlier, but this time it seems sorted. The suspension is tuned well to handle the bad roads and maneuvering through bumper to bumper traffic is a breeze. Overall the Amaze continues to impress in this department.
One thing that is increasingly determining choice of cars these days are its safety features. Honda has announced its Safety Direction for India that every new Honda model, introduced in the market from next fiscal year will apply Dual SRS Airbags as standard equipment across all variants. Active and passive safety technologies on the new Amaze include ABS with EBD, and Impact mitigating headrests. The company has also managed to keep the prices in check on this facelift. The Manual Petrol models start from Rs. 5.29 lakh and go up to Rs. 7.19 lakh. The 2 CVT models will set you back by Rs. 7.19 lakh and Rs. 8.19 lakh. Finally, the Diesel variants will range from Rs. 6.41 lakh to Rs. 8.19 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi. With the introduction of Honda connect app, the company has also improved the ownership experience of their cars, something which other car makers should learn a thing or two from. All this just brings the Amaze back into contention in this very competitive segment.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.