Honda Amaze 1.5 Diesel Review: Desires Exceeded

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Added in: Honda

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The entire country took notice when the Indian subsidiary of Honda launched its first ever sub-4 metrer sedan, the Amaze, in our very competitive entry level sedan market. A lot was riding on the Amaze when it was launched, for it was the most important product to help Honda regain its sparkle in the Indian car market, which somewhat dwindled due to the Japanese car major’s lack of an oil burning car in a diesel fuel dominated market. The Amaze had a mammoth task of taking on some seriously potent rivals including the formidable Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. As a testimony to its suitability to the Indian market and value offered, the Amaze has sold in great numbers. People across the length and breadth of the country have accepted this new compact sedan as a more than fitting rival to the top-selling Dzire. While the latter still leads the segment by a huge margin, lapping up even half the sales of the Maruti model is enough for a product to be termed a blockbuster. The Amaze, as it turns out, is one.

So what’s the secret sauce behind the Amaze’s success? With its burgeoning sales, can the Amaze propel Honda to new heights of popularity? Can we expect this incredibly well packaged machine to snatch the lead from the Swift Dzire in the increasingly important entry level sedan segment in the times to come?

Not the ones to let questions remain unanswered, we decided to spend some days with the new Amaze diesel and logged some miles in varied traffic and road conditions to check out what’s making everyone talk about this new compact sedan. So did we find our answers, as we spent a few hundred kilometers behind its steering wheel? Flip on for the finer details.

Design

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Only those who just came out of a hiding from some cave, dressed in leaves are required to be told that the Amaze is essentially the sedan variant of the Brio hatchback. This means that the Amaze is to the Brio what the Dzire is to the Swift and the Manza is to the Vista. All this means that Amaze is bound to benefit from some of the tasty design cues that are found in abundance on the Brio hatchback. The front end of the new sedan is very similar to that of the hatchback sibling, with the only differences arising out of the chrome plated grille and completely body coloured bumper on the Amaze.

However, the differences start getting more apparent the moment you have a look at the car’s profile. The Amaze not just gets a boot but also boasts of larger rear doors and a 60 mm longer wheelbase. The highlight here is the set of creases that run along the length of the car’s body and in the process, manage to lend it a sophisticated look. The designers at Honda have truly done a remarkable job of seamlessly plastering a boot on to the Brio and the car looks pretty well proportioned (no Swift Dzire like ungainliness here).

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At the rear end, the car boasts of styling that is typical of a small Honda sedan. Chunky tail-lamps, along with a rear bumper which is full of creases, manage to give the rear a distinctive character.

The chrome strip running across the width of the bootlid is a neat touch to underline the ‘premium’ quotient. The rear end definitely has got a hint of the Honda City to it and overall, the design can safely be termed as neat.

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The interiors of the Amaze look strikingly similar to those of the Brio hatchback. Nothing surprising as majority of the panels have been shared between the two cars. The dashboard, which too comes from the Brio, sports unconventionally placed air-con vents and a similar sporty-looking instrument console. Worth mentioning here is that while this sporty dashboard looks nice on a nifty hatch, it doesn’t look entire in sync with the character of a comfort oriented sedan. The three spoke steering wheel and the beige-black color theme, however, do look nice overall.

Motoroids Rating- 4/5

Go to next page to read about the Space and Equipment

Space and Equipment

The Honda Amaze comes across as considerably more spacious than the Brio hatchback, its donor car.

The Amaze comes with slim front seats with fixed headrests, which are not just surprisingly comfortable but also help in maximizing the space at the rear. Honda cars have never scored badly in ergonomics and the Amaze is no different. The buttons and knobs fall easily to the hand and thanks to the height adjustment, which was missing on the Brio, a good driving position can easily be found.

The leg room at front is decent for a small sedan and there is enough shoulder space on offer. However, tall passengers (read 5’9″ plus) would find it rather difficult to completely stretch their legs even with the seat pushed completely backwards. Also, the driver’s hand might at times brush with the passenger’s leg.

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At the rear, the Amaze is surprisingly  spacious for a compact sedan. The legroom on offer can safely be termed as generous and we reckon that the tall passenger in the front seat is better off at the rear. The seat boasts of good cushioning and the revised seatback angle is absolutely spot on. The rear seat can accommodate three, as long as you don’t expect really high comfort levels.

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The Amaze has got decent boot space of 400 litres and while the loading lip is high, the wheel wells don’t really intrude into the boot space. The boot seems big enough to easily hold an entire family’s luggage for a trip to the nearby hill station.

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The Amaze comes with several cubby holes that allow you to conveniently store knick-knacks. The front seats too offer deep seat pockets that further enhance the practicality quotient.

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The top end VX variant of the Amaze comes with some premium features such an integrated audio system that boasts of USB support, electrically adjustable ORVMs, rear defogger and steering mounted audio controls. However, it does miss out on some of the really common features such as an auto air con, a CD/MP3 player and height adjustable seatbelts. To be honest, we never had high hopes from a budget-end sedan but a CD based MP3 Player and an auto air con unit are a few things that will be sorely missed in the Amaze, the top end model of which costs almost INR 8 lakhs on road.

Motoroids Rating- 4/5

Go to next page to read about the new 1.5 Litre iDTEC diesel engine and the 5 speed manual gearbox

Engine

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As must be obvious to you by now, among the chief highlights of the Amaze is its oil burner. The new 1.5 liter i-DTEC diesel engine that powers the Amaze is a part of Honda’s new EarthDreams engine family. This range of engine also includes the 1.6 litre oil burner that powers the Euro-spec Civic and the 2.2 litre motor that powers the CR-V and Accord.

The 1.5 litre engine shares its block with the 1.6 litre version but has a reduced stroke that lessens the total displacement to a little less than 1.5 litres. This has been done to avail the lower excise duty for sub 4-metre cars with diesel engine size less than 1,500cc. The Amaze’s diesel engine comes equipped with a Honeywell fixed geometry turbocharger instead of the variable geometry turbo that the 1.6 litre motor boasts of. However, the 1.5 litre motor does benefit from 4 valves per cylinder and DOHC. The Honda 1.5 litre EarthDreams engine, which is the lightest engine in its segment, has a max power output of 100PS and develops a peak torque of 200Nm. This makes the motor much more powerful than that of other cars in the lower C segment. The diesel engine has an ARAI certified fuel efficiency of a staggering 25.8 Kmpl, which is by far the highest in its class.

On paper, the new 1.5 litre iDTEC seems to be a gem of an oil burner but is it really the case?

Go to next page to read about the Engine Performance, Gearbox and NVH levels

Motoroids Rating- 4.5/5

Engine, Gearbox and NVH 

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As we discovered, the 1.5 litre iDTEC engine that powers the Amaze is highly flexible in nature and revs freely (for a diesel engine). This motor ensures that dealing with heavy traffic conditions isn’t too stress inducing and we were happy to note that the turbo lag was as good as minimal. The motor starts feeling punchy from as low as 1200 rpm and the engine seems to come into its own as soon as the peak torque starts being developed around the 1700 rpm mark. As we said earlier, the lag is next to negligible and we have nothing but good things to say about the way the engine goes about its business. The punch on offer is evident till almost 3700 rpm , after which the performance starts fading rather rapidly. For those not willing to give up, the motor will rev all the way to 4200 rpm, after which, the rev-limiter cuts in rather abruptly.

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The engine comes mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox that offers slick, short and precise throws. The clutch action is pretty light and the car benefits from tall gearing. The Amaze can chug along in third gear all day long and we just can’t stop marvelling at how well the engine and gearbox work together in making the Amaze stress-free to drive.

Fuel efficiency too seems to be really decent, with the car managing to do a Mumbai-Pune in little less than one-third of a tank full of fuel (The Amaze’s Fuel Tank, at 35 litres, is rather small for a sedan). All this with a very heavy foot and some really aggressive driving.

However, things seem to start going for a toss the moment you pay attention to the NVH levels. Aluminium engines have never been known for low NVH levels and the Amaze’s 1.5 litre diesel motor is no different. The vibrations are well controlled and seldom do you feel them creeping into the peddles. Honda says it used liquid-filled instead of conventional mounts to control the vibrations coming from this engine and this trick seems to have worked pretty well.

The decibel levels though can surely do with some nannying. The distinctive diesel clatter is clearly audible inside the car and you would need to have an IQ of a cauliflower to mistake the diesel engine rumble for anything else. Also high is the tyre noise, which is sure to increase as the tires become older and harder.

Overall, the Brio Amaze Diesel variant does really well in the performance stakes but underperforms in the NVH levels. Call it the result of excessive cost cutting or whatever, we really expected Honda Amaze to be better insulated from the clatter that its diesel engine has on offer.

Motoroids Rating- 4/5

Go to next page to read about the Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

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The Honda Amaze boasts of a MacPherson strut suspension setup at front and torsion beam setup at rear. The Amaze can handle most of the craters quite well and will keep the passengers in comfort on majority of kinds of roads that we generally drive on. However, the car does seem uncomfortable when dealing with sharp irregularities. Unlike what we experienced when testing the new Octy recently, the Amaze’s suspension doesn’t have too much of clatter on offer. However, thanks to below par NVH levels, a lot of road noise, along with some wind noise, filters into the cabin.

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Quite unsurprisingly, the Amaze comes with an Electric Power Steering. However, it does weigh up sufficiently as speeds rise. The steering is very direct, and along with the small diameter, makes the drive all the more sporty. The car is pretty sure-footed and  doesn’t disappoint when you are in a mood to play the lane splitter.

Overall, the Amaze definitely is among some of the better handling Honda sedans we have driven and only the most enthusiastic of drivers would complain of the steering being not sufficiently heavy or accurate. Handling stands at par with the class. However, you shouldn’t think of this humble compact sedan as a tool cut out to carve corners. It’s good for its class but doesn’t quite match up with the poise of the bigger, heavier machines from higher segments.

Motoroids Rating- 3.5/5

Go to next page to read our Verdict

Overall

It seems like Honda has almost nailed it with the new Amaze. The Amaze looks amazingly well proportioned for a compact sedan, has a gem of a diesel engine, has surprisingly spacious interiors, a big boot and is priced pretty well too. The Amaze can surely do with better NVH and some more features but these shouldn’t be a deal breaker for prospective buyers.

However, it is surprising to note that after receiving a really warm welcome (the Amaze garnered 22000 bookings within three weeks of its launch), the excitement around the new Honda has somewhat mellowed down. What is really puzzling is that here is a car which is looking all set to re-write the rules of small sedan market and yet, sales performance of the Amaze shows that the car buying lot is yet to wake up to the idea of a budget end, small Honda sedan. We believe that with the Amaze, the Honda has the right ingredients for yet another bestseller. Don’t be too ‘amazed’ if Amaze manages to soon climb its way to the top of the sales charts of small sedan segment.

Motoroids Rating 4/5

Go to next page for more pics of Honda Amaze iDTEC

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