Design Review

[UPDATE – Please note that the following review of the Honda Amaze is that of a protoypte version, which we got to drive in Japan. The extensive road test review of the India-spec model will be published shortly.] 

 

OnCars was invited to the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan to test drive the Brio-based sedan, Amaze – a car that has the potential to turn around the fortunes for Honda Cars India. Not because it is their first entry-level sedan, neither because it's is compact and under four metres. The key to it probable success lies under the hood – the made for India, 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine! But as always, before we drive the car, let's take a quick look at the design.

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

Up front the Amaze looks pretty much like the Brio that it is based on. You have a twin-slat chrome plated grille, which gives the car a more matured look and the distinction when compared to the Brio's face. The air dam is body coloured too, to give more premium value to the Amaze as compared to its youthful hatchbcak counterpart.

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

The side profile is where things immediately take a different turn. The twin-triangle design philosophy is carried over from the Brio. The shoulder line depicts the first triangle, while a prominent cease extends from the taillights towards the rear door handles, depicting the second triangle. From the layman's point of view, the creases add flair to the design and gives the Amaze a sporty, tipped forward stance.

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

The boot adds further sophistication to the design. The boot lid is sculpted and matches the rest of the theme, making sure that the boot as a whole doesn't look like an afterthought. The taillights look stunning too – partly because they are inspired by the Honda City's lights and also because the layout look very upmarket when it is lit. If you ask me, the tailgate of the Amaze is the best looking backside when compared to outdated designs seen on the Etios, Verito and Indigo CS and even new age yet imbalanced designs like that of the Swift DZire.

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

The Honda Amaze measures 3990 mm in length, which lets it take the tax cut and also makes it 5mm smaller than the DZire. The design however, looks a lot more balanced, no matter what angle you look at it from. It isn't too radical like the hatchback it is based on and therefore shouldn't disappoint consumers looking for a conservative compact saloon. My only grudge is the size of the wheels – they are 14-inch but tend to look significantly small for the wheel wells and despite the increased wheelbase, the Amaze looks under-tyred.

User Experience Review

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

[UPDATE – Please note that the following review of the Honda Amaze is that of a protoypte version, which we got to drive in Japan. The extensive road test review of the India-spec model will be published shortly.]


The Honda Amaze that we drove was a prototype and therefore the interiors or the features may change on the actual production model, says Honda. The design of the dashboard is exactly similar to that seen in the Brio and has the same black-beige colour combination with a brown centre console. The instrumentation is exactly similar too. 

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

The front seats have been carried forward from the Brio too. However, integrated headrests could make a sedan-buyer feel shortchanged. We hope the production model gets seats with adjustable headrests though. The backside of the front seats have knee-recesses, which frees up space at the back. The backseat has very good knee room and foot space. The underthigh support could have been better. The bench is flat but because its based on a small car, the seat is only good enough for two adults and a kid. Our test car also had a centre armrest. The seat backrest has a nice recline and integrated headrests, which should make long distance journeys comfortable. 

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

The rear doors are longer than the Brio's and they open wide, allowing for easy ingress & egress. However the floor is low and the front seats are quite low, so older drivers could find it uncomfortable to get in and out of the car.


Leaves you amazed in so many ways

The Brio's interiors have a premium feel to them as compared to the competition and Honda Amaze is no different. In fact, the design of the interiors will play a very important role in snatching customers away the the Honda's rivals.

Performance Review

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

[UPDATE – Please note that the following review of the Honda Amaze is that of a protoypte version, which we got to drive in Japan. The extensive road test review of the India-spec model will be published shortly.]


The engine is what creates headlines for the Honda Amaze. The big H will finally bring an oil burner to India – a 1.5-litre i-DTEC engine that is expected to put out over 80 PS of power and 200 Nm of torque. (Actual figures were not disclosed to us during the drive). The engine left us impressed in the brief drive that we had. Even in the 10-11 degree chill at Motegi, the Diesel engine settled into a silent idle in a jiffy. There is ambient diesel clutter outside the car but its quite low when compared to the two most popular diesel engines in India – the Multijet and the K9K. 

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

Unlike the Fiat derived Multijet engines, the Honda i-DTEC mill has a linear power and torque delivery. The turbocharger kicks in between 2,000-2,500 RPM, but doesn't give you a sudden surge of power. Instead you have a meaty mid-range torque, which ensures smooth cruising, relatively on open urban roads. The low-end is exceptionally good too and the Amaze should have no problems tackling the crowded city environment. Since we had speed restrictions, we couldn't really check the top whack or the high-speed stability of the car.

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

Honda claims that this i-DTEC mill is the lightest Diesel engine in its class. It does make a difference in the way the car handles. The front end of the car doesn't feel too heavy when pushing the car around. The steering however, is heavier than its hatchback counterpart, which is a good thing. Its light enough for your city commutes and add to it the light clutch and the smooth gear shifter and the Amaze will have you adequately impressed.

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

Our test car was shod with MRF ZVTV tyres and I'm not a big fan of this rubber. They scream aimlessly and the grip isn't as good as similarly spec-ed Bridgestone or Good Year tyres. However they do contribute to fuel economy – in this case, it is 26 to 27 kmpl that the Amaze is aiming for. 

 

Since we drove on a flat race track, we can't comment much on the ride comfort, so we'll have to wait for a full road test to tell you more about it.

Leaves you amazed in so many ways

Conclusion


The competition for the Amaze comprises of the Mahindra Verito, Toyota Etios, Swift DZire and the Indigo CS – the car that started the whole sub-four-meter sedan game. However, Honda is gunning straight for the meat by benchmarking the Amaze against the Swift DZire. 

 

Well, Honda's Amaze is based on the small Brio hatch, while the DZire is based on the bigger and more premium Swift. Despite this, the Amaze lives up to its name by being stylish, spacious and fun to drive. Moreover, it brings the much awaited Diesel engine to the table that will bring Honda back into the frame. Should the competition be worried? I think they do…