Rising petrol prices over the last year and half and a steadily increasing demand for diesel vehicles finally witnessed Japanese auto manufacturer Honda take the plunge and launch their first ever diesel vehicle in India – the 1.5-litre i-DTEC powered Honda Amaze compact sedan.
Honda has invested heavily in the i-DTEC powerplant is India to ensure that localisation helps the company to competitively price the Amaze which will compete with the highly successful Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and the Tata Indigo eCS, while also remaining cost-competitive against larger entry-level sedans like the Mahindra Verito, Chevrolet Sail and the Toyota Etios.
The 1.5-litre Honda Amaze diesel comes in four trim levels with prices starting at Rs 6.39 lakh for the base E trim and going up to Rs 8.01 lakh for the top-of-the-line VX variant, all prices being ex-showroom Kolkata. The Amaze is offered in six different colour schemes – Majestic Blue, Urban Titanium Metallic, Carnelian Red Pearl, Taffeta White, Crystal Black Pearl and Alabaster Silver Metallic. The metallic shades cost Rs 5,000 more on average.
We got behind the wheel of the mid-range S trim of the most talked about Honda Amaze 1.5-litre i-DTEC to find out whether Honda’s diesel motor has lives up to the reputation enjoyed by its petrol engines. Read on to find out what we discovered.
Design & Engineering
The Honda Amaze is based on a stretched version of the Brio platform. Honda has ensured that the Amaze measures less than four metres (3990mm) in length with its diesel motor displacing less than 1500cc which qualifies the Honda Amaze for the government’s excise benefit on small cars. This further helps the company offer the Amaze at a competitive price. However, the wheelbase of the Honda Amaze is 60mm longer than the Brio hatchback which translate is better rear seat legroom.
The designers at Honda get a thumps up for delivering a product which not just looks stylish but better than the competition. Take a look at the Honda Amaze either in photographs or in flesh and is anyone with a sense of aesthetics, will agree that the Amaze is a stylish compact sedan and looks better than both – the Maruti Suzuki Swizt Dzire and the Tata Indigo eCS.
From the front, the Amaze looks the same as the Brio barring few subtle changes here and there like the new twin-slat chrome grille (Brio has a single bold chrome bar) and a body-coloured bumper. Take a walk along the side and you will notice well defined wheel arches and a sharp line running from the front bumper right till the rear door. A further line starting at the rear door and stretching right till the tail lamp add further definition to the design. Move to the rear of the Amaze and you would notice that the boot has been very neatly integrated and doesn’t appear abrupt. The designers have given the same arrow shot design treatment to the tail lamps as one would find in the Honda City. Viewed from the rear, the wraparound angular unit looks very similar to current Honda models and gives the car a family look. Overall, the rear looks very stylish, smart, well integrated and adds character to the appearance of the car. The Amaze ends up looking like a proper three-box sedan, rather than a tacky add-on, which is a real triumph in this segment.
Build quality and paintwork is excellent which is expected from a world-class car manufacturer like Honda. The 14-inch alloys in the Honda Amaze are different from the ones found on the Brio, and there are separate alloy wheel designs for petrol and diesel models.
The Honda Amaze boasts of confident inspiring braking set up with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. Similar to the Honda Brio and the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, the suspension set up of the Honda Amaze comprises of McPherson Struts on the front and torsion beam at the rear.
The Honda Amaze diesel S trim that we tested came with front chrome grille, body coloured front bumper, rear bumpers, outer door handles and ORVMs.
Interiors & Comfort
As you step inside the Honda Amaze, you will be greeted by the same Brio dashboard. The same black and beige colour theme with dark brown inserts has been retained. And though the three tone colour combination looks smart, however, we expected to witness a somewhat more upmarket finish or texture considering that Amaze is costlier that the Brio and its general psyche that a buyer would expect more from a compact sedan in comparison to a hatchback. But barring this there isn’t much to complain about as the overall fit and finish is good. However, the interior does not appear as plush or upmarket as the new Dzire’s.
The front seats are comfortable and offer good support. The driver’s seat is height adjustable (except base E and EX trims) and there is decent headroom up front as well. The space in the rear seat is quite generous for a sub-four-metre car with the increased wheelbase having resulted in more rear seat leg space.
Honda has adhered by their 'man maximum machine minimum' concept. This approach has led the engineers and designers at Honda to maximise the space available for passengers and minimised the space required for mechanical components. The overall space management is good with Honda also squeezing in five cup holders and four bottle holders.
The air conditioning is efficient and cools the passenger cabin in no time. The factory fitted 2 DIN integrated audio system with MP3, USB, auxiliary input and steering mounted audio control, which are all available from the S trim upwards, boasts of good sound quality. However, the Amaze does not have a CD player.
The 400-litre boot is big by compact saloon standards (Tata Indigo eCS – 380-litre and Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire – 318-litre) and can easily accommodate two large-sized suitcases.
The mid-range S variant that we drove came with electric power steering, front and rear power windows, day/night inside rear view mirror, height adjustable driver’s seat, power adjustable ORVMs and rear centre seat armrest with cup holder in addition to all the factory fitted standard features.
Performance & Handling
The Honda Amaze diesel is powered by a 4 cylinder, i-DTEC engine displacing 1498cc mated to a 5-speed manual gear box. Automatic transmission is only available on the petrol variant. The diesel engine produces 100 PS of maximum power at 3600 rpm and 200 Nm of peak torque at a low 1750 rpm.
The diesel engine is quite powerful and responsive, however, once the revs increase there is a lot of engine noise that seeps into the cabin. Clearly, Honda engineers have to add more sound deadening materials as compared to the petrol variant to keep NVH levels in check and leave a lot of room for improvement.
The transmission is precise and the throws are short making it a pleasure to operate. On the move the engine exhibits very little turbo lag and the power delivery is linear. Even at low speeds and in high gear the engine doesn't knock or stalls and pulls well from low revs, making it ideal as a city car. The drivability of the Amaze feels light years ahead of the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, especially in city traffic.
The car handles quite well and remains poised at high speed. Traction is good and there isn’t much body roll even in corners. A similar MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension setup to the Brio underpins the Amaze. The suspension is slightly stiff as some amount of jerks is transported inside the passenger compartment while cruising over broken and uneven patches. The relatively small 14-inch wheels don’t help either.
Overall, the compromise between ride and handling has been evenly judged, and the longer wheelbase and weight aft of the rear axle means it rides much better than its smaller hatch sibling, the Brio.
The Honda Amaze i-DTEC claims a class leading ARAI-ratified mileage of 25.8kmpl, however, we didn’t get an opportunity to conduct a proper fuel efficiency test. Nevertheless, Honda engines have always been champions of efficiency, setting the benchmark, and we expect the diesel Amaze to be no different.
The Honda Amaze comes equipped with standard safety features like engine immobilizer, driver seat belt reminder alarm, central locking and ABS with EBD (standard in diesel only) across model range. The top-of-the-line VX trim also gets front dual SRS airbags and rear defogger.
With the Amaze, Honda has managed to deliver a car which appears like a good package. The car looks very stylish, smart and well integrated. The interior is spacious, particularly at the rear, considering its compact sedan status. It also comes with a decently sized boot. The fit and finish of the interiors are also good, although we expected better and finer quality of interior than the Brio. The new 1.5-litre diesel engine is both responsive and fuel efficient. And although you might not get 25.8kmpl in real world conditions as the company claims, however, extracting a 15kmpl in the city and around 20kmpl on the highway shouldn’t be a problem. At Rs 6.39 lakh for the base diesel, the Amaze is priced at par with competition (Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire) and is the most inexpensive Honda sedan available in the Indian market. The Amaze has opened quite well with waiting period up to three months (similar to the Swift Dzire). But whether the Amaze will be able to dethrone the Swift Dzire to occupy the numero uno spot in the compact car segment in India? I think it is still too early to comment but it will be a tough fight for sure.