The previous gen Amaze was an important car for Honda as it was the debut for its diesel engine which changed the car-maker way back then. That time the compact sedan space was just growing and competition was not as fierce. Today it is different. Competition is tougher (we are looking at you, Dzire), the demands have changed and people are enticed by compact SUVs and premium hatchbacks. Which means the time could not have been right for Honda to bring in an all new generation. Does it live up to its hype? Read below.
Honda have stretched the Amaze is all ways possible and the clear intention here has been to make it more premium than before. This is an all new platform and Honda have thrown out the styling of the previous Amaze. This new one demands your attention. The stance is lower, wider and it looks like a proper sedan with no ungainly angles. Yet Honda have managed to just duck under 4m. The front is what gets everyone talking. It is basically now a mini Civic and we are not complaining. The sharply cut front bumper, the large headlamps and the new grille with the massive chrome strip gives it way more presence than the earlier one.
The side crucially is well balanced and does not suffer from the compact sedan issues of looking like the boot has been cut as do remember it is designed ground-up. The Civic influences are there at the rear also with larger tail-lamps and a more aggressively cut bumper. There are new 15 inch wheels. Overall it is a sea-change over the earlier Amaze.
Interiors and features
Like the exteriors, much thought has been given to the inside. While earlier Amaze was not cramped at all, with the new one, the wheelbase is longer which helps immensely. There is more space and it feels airier than rivals. Me being a six-footer was comfortable behind an equally tall person at the rear with good head and leg space. There are no rear ac vents but the cabin was cooled down well.
The dash is no longer bare-bones like the earlier Amaze. The black and beige look goes down well with good quality materials used. I especially liked the climate control switches, the black treatment done and the three-spoke steering. That said in some areas quality could have been better especially the plastic used in the lower part of the centre console. The manual top-spec models get a touchscreen infotainment system which has navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear camera display, cruise control, climate control etc. While there are dual airbags, ABS, EBD, Isofix, LED positioning lamps, paddle shifters (petrol) etc.
The automatic models lose the touchscreen while the diesel automatic does not have paddle shifters. Coming back to practicality, the Amaze has enough storage spaces plus we found the door pockets big. The 420 litre boot is massive as well!
There is a 1.2 petrol and a 1.5 diesel with both getting a CVT automatic option alongside a manual. We drove the petrol CVT first and it makes 87 bhp while the CVT performed well in the city. The gearbox is smooth and feels happiest ambling along in D mode. In traffic, it is painless to drive which is its biggest draw. Out on the highway you can use the Sport mode and paddle shifters. There is a bit of the infamous rubber band effect here and the car gets noisy when driven hard but as said earlier paddle shifts help. This is more of a city car and works really well. The petrol manual is the enthusiast option with its light clutch and slick gearbox. The motor loves to rev and you would not mind working the gearbox. In the city, it is not very difficult to drive with its light steering and controls.
The diesel CVT though is the pick of the range. Unlike the diesel manual which has full 98 bhp, the CVT diesel loses out 20 bhp and 40Nm torque. (160 vs 200Nm). However you do not feel that at all. The CVT gearbox is superbly paired and works whether you are in slow moving traffic or in the highway. The diesel has punch and its cruises really nicely being a car for gulping down kms with ease. Yes, do not get paddle shifts but you do not need them. Also the NVH levels of this diesel is improved and it feels more refined than the City diesel! We got near 20 kmpl too!
The new Amaze is not an out and out enthusiast car but it is at the top tier in terms of handling and ride. The ride is good in the city and is controlled not feeling too soft and hard. The steering lacks feedback but takes to corners with enthusiasm. But crucially with a lot of luggage and three people, it just devoured highways with ease and we liked its high speed stability.
Honda have poured in a lot of effort and it shows. In every area there is a marked change over its predecessor and it takes a massive step-up in every direction. Notably the automatic options, the new look and the interior with a good amount of features means this seems to be the only car capable to give the Maruti Dzire tough competition. It is a very good car with no distinct weakness and more importantly premium enough to lure buyers away from compact SUVs or premium hatchbacks. Lets hope Honda prices it well and it has the makings of a winner.