Review: 1st-gen Honda Amaze (2013)
The Honda Amaze has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 4.99 - 7.60 lakhs (ex-Delhi).
What you'll like:
• An all-rounded compact sedan that does most things well
• Packaging brilliance. Roomier backseat than the Dzire, and a larger 400 Liter boot
• 1.5L i-DTEC engine offers segment-best power & performance. Excellent driveability too
• Diesel's 25.8 kpl fuel economy rating is the highest of any car sold in India
• Light controls, slick gearshift and easy maneuverability for in-city commuting. AT gearbox available
• Honda's reliability & fuss-free ownership experience
What you won't:
• Diesel's NVH is a full level poorer than the refined Maruti Dzire
• Brio's unconventional dashboard is too basic for this class of car
• Not as dynamically accomplished as the Ford Fiesta Classic, Toyota Etios and others
• Honda's production capacity of 10,000 cars / month (for all models) will inevitably result in waiting periods
• Diesel isn't as high-rpm friendly as the 1.3L MJD
• Many practical features missing (climate control, seat-belt height adjustment, adjustable neck restraints, auto-locking doors, full MID, folding rear seat etc.)
The 2016 Facelift & CVT Automatic:
• Link to Review
Having a petrol-only portfolio in the current market scenario is like taking a knife to a gunfight. As a result, Honda has seen its market share drop steadily over the years; the lack of a diesel engine cost it many a sale (Related Thread). The Japanese giant found out the hard way that petrol cars can only take you so far in India.
Enter the 1.5L i-DTEC diesel. This motor makes its global debut in India. In fact, it was developed exclusively for our market. That’s proof enough of how crucial the oil-burner is to Honda India regaining traction. We’re seeing a new engine in the C1 sedan category after a long time. The 1.3L MJD has powered a multitude of cars for 5 years now, while Ford's 1.4L TDCi, Toyota's 1.4L D-4D and Renault-Nissan's 1.5L dCi are either old-school, under-powered or both. Also, unlike Maruti, Honda's in-house engine development means it doesn't have to pay anyone royalty fees to use the engine.
The Amaze is Honda's 5th car on sale in India (now that the Civic and Jazz have been phased out), and the brand's cheapest & shortest sedan in the world. The car is basically the Brio hatchback with a boot, just like the Swift & Dzire, Vista & Manza and Polo & Vento. It was developed at Honda's R&D center in Thailand and is the 1st such local development in South-Asia. The Brio & Amaze siblings are built for emerging markets only.
This is an important product for the Japanese manufacturer. While Honda's best-selling car has traditionally been the City, it's the entry-level C1 sedan segment where all the volumes lie. Just look at the Dzire which managed a whopping 18,000 shipments in February 2013! That’s more than all of the C2 sedans combined. The Amaze is the Dzire’s first true competitor and believe me, the Dzire is no pushover. It is India’s highest selling sedan for good reason. The 2nd generation Dzire is much improved over its predecessor and is backed by Maruti's formidable brand, after-sales quality and consistently high customer satisfaction rates. Honda also enjoys great brand pull in India, while the City has built tremendous goodwill for itself over the years. You can bet that Maruti & Hyundai will be watching the Amaze’s market performance closely. The biggest losers in this fierce fight will be aging warriors like the Manza, Etios, Fiesta Classic etc.
The Amaze is manufactured at Greater Noida (UP) and not Honda's 2nd facility at Tapukara Rajasthan, as some had speculated. I fully expect supply constraints for the Amaze in the initial period though. While Honda is said to be readying an inventory of 10,000 cars by the time of launch, the company has a maximum production capacity of 10,000 / month at UP for its entire portfolio. In the last 3 months, Honda has maintained a sales average of 5,400 cars. That leaves a production capacity of merely 4,600 cars / month for the Amaze. Things will stay this way until late 2014, when the production capacity will be enhanced. I doubt Honda will compromise on deliveries of its more expensive & profitable cars (like the City) in favor of the Amaze. On a related note, there is a strong possibility that the Amaze will cannibalize the City. For one, it is a diesel Honda sedan, that alone is reason enough for many. Then, the Amaze offers you ~90% of the City at 70% of the price. Remember how Civic sales tanked after the new City's launch in 2008, due to the exact same reason? In preparation of the Amaze's launch, the City's base corporate edition has been discontinued. This is to restrict price overlap between the two sedans and position the City as the more expensive, premium option.
Capping the length at 3,990 mm qualifies Honda's latest for the lower 12% excise duty slab (instead of 24% that the likes of the Manza & Etios have to pay). That’s a saving of Rs. 60,000 on a Rs. 5 lakh car! The Amaze looks like a proper sedan and not one whose boot was an after-thought. For a short sub-4 meter three box, the design is fairly proportionate too, unlike the quirky Dzire. In fact, this is one sedan that has a better looking derričre than the hatchback it's based on.
Because of its small footprint though, the Amaze looks just like the entry-level sedan that it is. Don’t expect any premium presence here. The design is contemporary enough and the neutral styling won't offend anyone. There is no denying that Honda designers went overboard with the creases and cuts, although these touches might appeal to the masses. From the front, the Amaze is nearly identical to the Brio. The twin-slat chrome grill is new, and the bumper insert now matches the body colour. I actually prefer the Brio’s black bumper insert that breaks the monotony and brings some contrast. The wheelbase at 2,405 mm is 60 mm longer than that of the Brio. The rear doors are now longer and they get a quarter glass too. The boot receives a fat, ubiquitous chrome strip that the Indian buyer seems to love. I must add that the tail lamps look similar to the pre-facelift version of the Honda City. The rear bumper appears edgy, especially on our silver media car.
The Amaze's kerb weight is within 10 kilos of the Maruti Dzire. It's a light car and feels so. The doors shut with a precise albeit tinny clunk you would only associate with Japanese & Korean economy cars. The boot lid's sheet metal feels especially thin, but not much different from that of the Dzire. The awfully wide panel gap between the boot & tail-lamps isn't expected of a Honda. Furthermore, the bonnet shut lines were inconsistent on either side. I checked the same on multiple media cars and it was the same story with all of them. The paint quality is topnotch and overall finish levels are good. The quality of plastic and rubber used is satisfactory.
Our test Amaze was the top-of-the-line VX variant equipped with dual front airbags, ABS + EBD, alloy wheels, height-adjustable driver's seat, electrically adjustable & folding ORVMs and a USB / AUX audio system. You don't get the climate control, CD player & full MID of the Dzire, but the electric folding mirrors are a segment first.
Identical face to the Brio. The twin-slat radiator grille is new. Bumper in full silver gives a more upmarket look, although I personally prefer the Brio’s black colour inserts:
Proportionate rear end for a sub-4 meter sedan:
Location was far out. Thanks to a local cabbie for taking us here. Even the Q3 was shot at the same spot (link):
Short and sweet. Boot is properly integrated, unlike the quirky Dzire & Indigo CS:
Shorter front end (compared to Dzire) allows for a longer rear; this makes a huge difference when engineers are restricted to a 4-meter length. Body-coloured door handles are preferred over flashy chrome:
Honda says that the Amaze's unique heat absorbing front windscreen helps to keep cabin temperature lower. In their tests, the area around the instrument panel was cooler by ~6 degrees after the car had been parked under the direct sun for 20 minutes:
Beefed up wheel arches:
Roof antenna mounted toward the rear. Looks so much better than the Brio's outdated pull-out antenna:
175/65 R14 tyres on 10-spoke wheels. OEM MRF ZVTVs are awful! Try to get another brand out of your dealer or better yet, upgrade to high quality 185/60 R14 rubber :thumbs up
Honda took its own sweet time in bringing the i-DTEC here:
A look at the Amaze petrol in the maroon body shade (silver car above was the diesel):
Edgy rear bumper. 175 mm tyres look way too skinny on this car. The Dzire top-end variant wears a more suitable 185/65 R15:
Almond shaped headlamps:
No dog bar, with the air-con condensor far out in the front. Very meek horn:
Amaze petrol gets different 5J alloy wheels (the diesel runs on 5.5" wide wheels). Neither wheel design is shared with the Brio in what is Honda's attempt to differentiate the sedan from the hatchback:
Rubbery coating in the rear wheel well. No cladding at all:
Tiny wind-deflector flaps placed ahead of all 4 tyres to reduce drag (More information):
ORVMs with integrated blinkers:
Fat chrome strip is de rigueur with C1 segment sedans, it seems:
Large tail-lamps are reminiscent of the pre-facelift Honda City:
We thought the Amaze will scrape here when getting back on the road, but it didn't. However, the wheelbase is longer than the Brio's and the suspension is softer too. Over to the ownership reports for final verdict on clearance with a full load:
Boot sheet metal is of the super-thin variety. Feels like a tin can:
Large panel gaps between the boot & tail-lamp aren't expected on a Honda:
Credit for the 2 motion pictures to Ritesh Madhok. Thank you!
Brio's unconventional dashboard looks terribly basic in the Amaze. Will be a source of complaint:
The interior is nearly identical to that of the Brio, with most changes found at the rear of the car. The major difference at the front, and a pleasant addition at that, is height-adjustment on the driver's seat. Several Brio owners complain of their car’s low seating position. The Amaze's seat height-adjustment has a healthy 50 mm range and will make the shortest of drivers feel comfortable. Also, unlike the Brio, there is none of that ghastly bare metal and exterior body colour showing up in the door pads.
The Brio's dashboard looks terribly basic for a sedan whose top diesel variant will nudge 8 lakh rupees in some cities. During our photoshoot, a bunch of passersby peeked inside and complained about the barebones dashboard. There isn't a doubt that the Maruti Dzire's fascia is more complete and a superior design. The Indian Amaze gets a black & beige colour combination (unlike the excessive beige of the Thai-spec car) with silver accents. This colour palette is similar to other Hondas sold in India and popular with customers. The beige carpeting looks good, although it'll soil easily and will be a task to clean. While the interiors are pleasant, I don't think too much of the tacky brown accents on the center console & door armrests. They do look completely out of place! Overall part quality is acceptable. For an entry-level sedan, the interiors are well-screwed together and the Amaze feels like it will last the distance. Obviously, there isn't a soft touch dashboard in here, yet the overall quality is superior to competitors like the Etios. Whatever cost cutting is there, it's not that obvious. You'll see some feel-good touches too. For instance, inside the seatback pocket is soft textured material. The rear bottle-holder (between the front seats) has a carpet on its base.
Like all Hondas and Toyotas, there are no serious ergonomic faults, and the Amaze is very user-friendly. You feel at home within 5 minutes of driving the car. The steering is a standard 3-spoke design, dissimilar to the Jazz & City whose wheels are Civic-inspired. The Amaze’s steering is small and wonderful to hold. It doesn't get leather cladding, yet the soft touch rubber feels high quality. Strangely, the stereo is angled towards the front passenger and away from the driver! As is typical with Hondas, most buttons are from the XL size parts bin, including those for the stereo and air-conditioner. Even the outdated fresh air <-> recirculate slider is big. If you have driven a Honda City before, you'll find familiarity with the meter fonts & their orange illumination. The meter cluster stays illuminated during the day. Under direct sunlight however, there is some amount of glare on the speedometer, thus requiring a second look to gauge the driving speed. The basic MID only has a single trip meter and average fuel consumption data. A distance-to-empty counter is sorely missed.
The A-pillar is thick but doesn't obstruct visibility that much, partly due to the low positioning of the ORVMs (wing mirrors). Frontal & lateral visibility is topnotch. Where the Brio's rearward visibility was outstanding, the Amaze is a pain. The high speaker shelf greatly limits visibility when reversing. You'll do well in watching out for motorcycles & the like parked close to you. The ORVMs are appropriately sized and have a wide field of view. The interior mirror, on the other hand, is narrower than what I usually prefer.
The supportive front seats have excellent knee room, thanks to their long travel range and the scooped-in dashboard (the glovebox is placed far from the front passenger's knees). Even tall folk won't have a problem fitting into the front. At 5'10'', I actually had to move the seat one notch ahead for my ideal driving position. Cabin width is limited as the Amaze is based on what is a small hatchback after all. Still, it does feel bright and airy due to the greenhouse. The front seats have integrated head restraints (cost-cutting). They protrude out enough for you to comfortably rest your head on them from time to time. IMHO, Honda should have avoided the fixed headrests in favour of the more conventional adjustable variety. Toyota did the same for the Liva & Etios after negative customer feedback. Seatbelt height adjustment - a feature offered by cheaper hatchbacks - is conspicuous by its absence.
The Amaze's wheelbase is longer than the Brio's by 60 mm, and it does appear that the entire 60 mm has gone to the rear. It's absolutely remarkable how Honda has managed to carve out more backseat room and a bigger boot than the Dzire, despite having an overall length & wheelbase that are shorter. The Jazz was an acknowledged masterpiece in terms of interior packaging. To me, the Amaze is right up there with the Jazz. The rear seat is placed on the lower side and hence, you have to "sit down" on it (Senior Citizens, please take note). The wide gap between the rear seat & the B-Pillar does make ingress / egress easier, even if the rear door doesn't open out as much as my folks prefer. Space is decidedly superior to that of the Dzire. With the front seat pushed all the way back, I could manage to sit properly, without crouching, and still had a bit of knee clearance from the front seat. A fellow car reviewer (5'6" height) set the driver's seat up for himself. Sitting behind him, I had more room than I needed. Rear seat legroom is very good by compact sedan standards and even 6-footers can manage to fit in. There is plenty of foot room too. Don't get me wrong though, the Amaze is a sub-4 meter sedan at the end of the day. Space is sufficient, albeit not excessive. If you are looking at absolute backseat / chauffeur-driven comfort, I recommend the Etios, Manza or Sunny instead. The Amaze is ideal for the one who drives himself and has his family / friends using the back seat, or who is occasionally driven around. Further, due to the cabin's narrow width, two healthy passengers are welcome at the back, not three.
The softer rear seat offers good support and has a relaxed backrest angle. I have my reservations on how supportive a soft seat will be for long journeys though (a firmer compound is usually preferred for highway runs). The seat has a well-padded center armrest with two cup-holders, while the doors get longer armrests than in the Brio. The rear seat has fixed, really soft neck restraints which I found to be a great place for resting my head. Taller moderator Ajmat however found them to be obtrusive. Headroom isn't as much of an issue as it was in the Brio. I had ~2 inches of clearance from the roof. 6-feet tall Moderator Vid6639 didn't have a problem when sitting normally, but if he moved to an upright position, his hair brushed against the roof. The floor hump is marginal (probably an inch in height) and not as tall as in the Dzire. The 5th occupant sits against a raised seat back (basically the underside of the armrest) and seat base. Hence, he loses out on an inch of headroom. As mentioned earlier, the 5th occupant is apt as an occasional visitor only.
The Amaze has a fair amount of storage space. The glove compartment is medium-sized (though the XL size lid would have you believe otherwise), and the front door pockets are wide. They can hold 1 liter bottles too. Two large cup-holders and a storage bin are placed right ahead of the gear lever. Those on the Brio didn't, but the Amaze's rear doors have pockets & 1 liter bottle holders. Then, there is the large cubicle / bottle holder between the front seats. Both front seats get useful seat-back pockets.
The air-conditioner did a fantastic job of keeping the cabin cool on a sunny Goan day. This, in a media car sans sunfilm. After the car was parked under the hot sun for 2 hours, the air-conditioner cooled the interiors quickly. It is noteworthy to mention that blower level III isn't as noisy as it is in some other cars, you don't have to raise your voice when talking. All of the four rotary A/C vents can be adjusted any way you like. They also have a 'full close' function that, unfortunately, doesn't really shut them airtight. Some amount of cool air finds its way through anyway.
The 400 liter boot is noticeably bigger than the Dzire's trunk and offers adequate cargo capacity for weekend holiday luggage. On the negative side, the rear seat-back doesn't fold forwards, thereby limiting the flexibility on offer.
High quality steering is fabulous to hold:
Meters stay illuminated during the day. Speedometer suffers from glare at noon. Brown accents look tacky on an otherwise classy colour palette:
ECO light indicates an efficient driving style. Basic MID only has a single trip meter and average FE data. No distance to empty count:
Jazz' golf ball gearshift knob. Light & easy to engage gears:
Thin front seats offer decent support, especially lateral. Integrated head restraints are a cost-cutting measure:
Driver's seat height adjustment has a healthy 50 mm range. Honda claims that its closest competitor (presumably, the Dzire) offers a narrower 30 mm adjustment range:
The Amaze's stereo has no CD player. Choose from USB, AUX or FM as your music source. USB cable is placed near the front cup holders, while the Aux-in is located on the HU itself. Fitting an after-market head unit won't require a dash kit. Decent sound quality:
Air-conditioner is very effective. No climate control on the City, thus we didn't expect it on the Amaze either. Slider for recirculate <-> fresh air mode feels outdated:
Wheel well has adequate width. No dead pedal, though there is space for your left foot to rest:
Stylish door panel. No (hideous) exposed body colour showing inside the pockets (like the Brio):
Driver's window gets auto-down function. Round button (on the top left) electrically folds in / out the ORVMs:
Wing mirrors offer a good field of view...
...interior mirror not so. I'd prefer a size wider:
Chunky control stalks feel durable:
Chrome-ringed air vents look classy. Vent design allows you to direct air flow any way you like:
2 cup-holders & a storage cubicle ahead of the gear lever. Convenient USB port location. Helps avoid wires dangling from the head-unit. Plus, you can park your connected MP3 device here, or charge another device from the 12v socket:
The handbrake console area. Notice storage cubicle / single bottle holder behind the handbrake:
Regular sized glove compartment:
Both sun visors get vanity mirrors:
High parcel tray leads to extremely poor rearward visibility. Be cautious when reversing & watch out for objects close to you. The Amaze gets a rear demister which was missing in the Brio:
Brilliantly packaged interiors result in sufficient rear seat space. Thin front seats with a scooped out seat-back helps release that much more room:
Front passenger seat pushed all the way back (to accommodate a 6-footer):
Relaxed seatback angle. Comfy center armrest with cup-holders:
Rear door is longer than that of it's hatchback sibling. Bigger armrest with conventionally placed power window button. Now gets a door pocket + bottle holder:
Wide gap (between the seat & B-Pillar) makes for easier entry / exit:
Floor hump is marginal in size. Doesn't eat into foot room:
Illuminated 400 Liter boot is more accommodating than the Dzire's:
You don't get an alloy wheel spare:
The inside of the boot lid is naked. Cover sorely missed. Cables & boot-opening mechanism look pathetic!
Honda's 1.5L i-DTEC Diesel Engine:
• This is the 4th Honda diesel ever, and the smallest yet. The 1st was the 2.2L i-CTDi in 2003, 2nd was the 2.2L i-DTEC in 2008 and the 3rd was the recently unveiled 1.6L i-DTEC
• 1,498 cc. 4 cylinder, double overhead camshaft 16v motor
• 99 BHP @ 3,600 rpm
• 200 Nm torque @ 1,750 rpm
• 25.8 kpl fuel economy rating (under ideal test conditions) is the highest of any Indian car (the 3-cylinder Chevy Beat diesel is next @ 25.44 kpl). The same for the Dzire is 23.4 kpl
• Fixed geometry turbocharger made by Honeywell. The next-generation City might get the same engine with a variable geometry turbocharger
• 1600 bar injection pressure
• Same block as Honda's 1.6L diesel (available internationally) with common internals, but a reduced stroke to bring down the displacement to <1,500 cc. Engine development work started in 2007
• Engine ancillaries (e.g. water pump) have shrunk from the 1.6L motor
• 1.5L diesel weighs 152 kgs. Lightest diesel engine compared to those with similar power ratings. It's heavier than the 1.3L MJD though (~130 kilos)
• Service interval of 10,000 kms / 6 months
• Despite Honda's earlier complaints of Indian fuel quality, this engine has been tested extensively with poor quality diesel and it ran just fine
• A resin fuel strainer is fitted in the diesel engine
• Intercooler is vertically mounted
• Features an aluminium head, high strength narrow crankshaft, lightweight pistons and high swirl + high flow rate head design
• Engine is mounted on liquid-filled mounts, instead of rubber units, to reduce vibration
• 1.5L diesel to be manufactured at Honda's new engine plant at Tapukara, Rajasthan
• BS-4 compliant. A DPF (diesel particulate filter) can be added in the future to make it BS-5 compliant
• Mechanical friction (@ 1,500 rpm) is similar to petrol engines. Honda claims friction levels are lower than other diesel engines
• Uses ultra low viscosity semi-synthetic oil. Honda co-developed this engine oil with Idemitsu and JX Oil, Japan. Honda claims this is the lowest viscosity oil in the world, but didn't share the exact viscosity grading.
Driving the 1.5L Diesel
Diesel engine completely fills up the engine bay:
Engine cover wears the "Earth Dreams Technology" nameplate:
When was the last time you saw a Honda with a revv counter limited to 5,000 rpm?!
Diesel's hood gets full insulation treatment. The rubber flap (top right) seems to be there to control water splash:
Firewall insulation. I don't think the prototype we drove in Japan had it:
Seeing a glow plug lamp in a Honda just reminded me of how market dynamics have changed. The light flashes for just under a second before going off.
As opposed to the Honda petrols we know, this 1.5L i-DTEC focuses entirely on low-end power delivery. Simply put, in-city driveability is outstanding. Turbo lag is nearly inexistent, with the diesel motor responding well from idle rpms itself. Power delivery is linear in comparison to our national engine, the 1.3L MJD. That also means there is none of that sudden punch at 1,800 - 2,000 rpm. The engine has an incredibly tractable nature and within town, you only need to give it light accelerator inputs to potter about. The 1.5L moves away from crawling speeds in 2nd without breaking into a sweat, and even passes the 2nd gear speed-breaker test with flying colours. Throttle response at <2,000 rpm is satisfactory, unlike some of its competitors who are still waiting for the turbo to start spooling. Though it isn't recommended, I managed to pull away from standstill in 2nd with very minor clutch slipping. When driving in slow traffic, we are constantly shifting between the 1st & 2nd ratios, and this is exactly where the Amaze blows the Dzire away. In-city driveability is a highlight of the engine...the 1.3L MJD-powered competition just can't compete in this area. When traffic conditions are less dense, you could use 3rd gear as an automatic from 25 km/h up all the way to 110. Though you feel the engine generating peak torque past 1,800 rpm, there is no turbo kick that the 1.3L MJD-powered cars give you.
With a power-to-weight ratio that is superior to the VW Vento, the Amaze offers best-in-class performance on the open road. Straight line acceleration is peppy, with the engine feeling noticeably more muscular than the Dzire, Manza and other direct competitors. The Amaze is easily capable of keeping up with C2 segment sedans on the highway. The engine has solid grunt and overtaking fast vehicles is effortless. You don't have to worry about turbo lag catching you out in the middle of an overtaking manouveur either. This motor isn't as high-rpm friendly as the 1.3L MJD though. The i-DTEC revvs to a max of ~4,450 rpm. There's no point in taking the revvs that high, and it's best to upshift at 4,000 rpm tops. The 1st gear maxes out at 37 km/h, 2nd at 70 km/h and 3rd at about 110. The Amaze 1.5L is an able long distance cruiser. 100 km/h is seen @ 2,300 rpm in 5th gear (identical to the Dzire). Towards the end of the day, we had to climb a small hill for our photo shoot. The Amaze made light work of the steep incline and delivered a fast run up the hill. Recovering from a stop on a steep incline is easy too, as the lack of lag means you don't have to slip the clutch.
Conversely, if you maintain a light foot and go easy on the rpms (1,500 - 1,800 range), the green ECO sign lights up on the meter console, indicating an economical driving style. A variety of parameters (including current gear, speed, road incline etc.) are considered by the ECU for the ECO mode. The ECO light also comes on whenever you are decelerating, or the car is free-wheeling. Low turbo-lag cars (Verito, Etios, Sunny) usually record high fuel economy figures within the city as there is no need to unnecessarily revv, and the Amaze is no different. Its quite an achievement that Honda's 1st diesel engine in India defeats the Fiat 1.3L MJD in terms of driveability, power and fuel economy. The short throw gearbox with well defined gates is an absolute joy to use. Honda says that this transmission has been developed specifically for the 1.5L i-DTEC. The clutch isn't as light as that of the Amaze / Brio petrol, yet isn't a pedal I'd call heavy and complain about either. It's par for the course in terms of effort required.
One area where the Amaze diesel fails to impress is in the overall NVH levels. To begin with, the engine start / stop process is far from seamless. This is especially so at engine shutdown where there is significant shake felt in the cabin, as the engine rocks about on its mounts. Then, I was disappointed with engine vibrations being felt on the pedals (most prominent on the clutch pedal). This vibration is directly proportionate to the rpm level and was noticed in the Dzire as well. Of course, other than the pedals, vibrations aren't present anywhere else in the car and passengers won't be complaining at all. On the move, the diesel engine always makes its presence felt. Even if you drive in the 1,600 - 2,000 rpm range, you can hear the engine doing its work. A Honda techie said that aluminium engines are inherently noisier. What's more, the engine note isn't pleasant. The motor sounds rather UV'ish. As I took the rpms higher, it reminded me of how the Innova sounds, albeit at a lower decibel. These NVH levels aren't a deal breaker, though this isn't what you expect in a Honda. A car like the über-refined i20 diesel is in a different class by itself when it comes to NVH management.
The Brio suffers from a crashy, choppy suspension and overall, Hondas have never been known for a plush ride. The Amaze benefits from a longer wheelbase (than the Brio) mated to softer springs & dampers. This is an approach similar to Maruti whose Dzire also runs on a softer setup than the Swift. The Amaze offers compliant ride quality at low speeds. Comfort levels were acceptable over some of the broken road patches we encountered in Southern Goa. The suspension soaks up bumps and potholes acceptably well, but it is nowhere as plush as the Verito or Etios (as an example). Still, owners won't be fretting over the comfort levels. Ride quality remains compliant on the highway and the Amaze does a fair job of filtering out most road irregularities. On the flip side, the rear doesn't remain as planted as we'd like over road undulations. And large / sharp bumps can upset her composure.
The Amaze gets conventional McPherson struts up front, while the rear suspension is based on the H-shape torsion beam. The softer suspension means that the Amaze was never going to be a corner carver like the Fiesta Classic. Overall handling can best be termed as safe & neutral by family sedan standards. Grip levels are predictable and there are no nasty surprises (sudden oversteer or understeer). Though, body roll is more prominent than in cars like the Fiesta & Etios which offer a far superior driving experience. The Brio might lose out to its sedan sibling in the comfort stakes, but it's definitely sharper and more fun to drive. Also, under hard cornering, the diesel does feel more front-heavy than the Brio / Amaze petrols, due to the engine's additional weight. Overall, the Amaze is in tune with the tastes of the mass market. If you are looking at a dynamically rich automobile, this car isn't for you. The EPS steering is light enough at city speeds. That, combined with the torquey engine and light driving controls make the Amaze a breeze to drive in urban India. The diesel's turning radius is 4.7 meters (same as the Amaze AT) and marginally shorter than the Dzire's 4.8 meters. The steering is fast & reasonably direct. At speed, it weighs up, but isn't anywhere as perfect as Ford's hydraulic unit, and feels lighter than what us enthusiasts prefer. The additional weight of the engine makes the Amaze diesel more "settled" on the highway (than the petrol variant). Stability is at acceptable levels and there is none of that "Hyundai nervousness" at expressway speeds. Highway behaviour is more or less like the Dzire. Stopping capability is similar to other cars from the segment and the brakes do the expected job. I must add that brake components appear to be shared between the diesel & petrol cars. The diesel's higher torque delivery at low rpm means you need to press the pedal firmer than you usually would to control engine crawl. It does take some getting used to.
The 165 mm of clearance is lesser than the Dzire (170 mm). Though the Brio isn't known to scrape over rough roads, fact is that the Amaze has a longer wheelbase and a softer suspension. I leave it up to our ownership reports to comment on how the Amaze handles tall speed breakers with a full load of passengers.
Driving the 1.2L Petrol
Engine mounts with big dampers. Wonder whether the 3rd nut is missing by design or left out at assembly?
Unlike its diesel sibling, the petrol's hood only gets partially covered with insulating material. The air intake plumbing we saw on the Brio (link) is missing. We hope it makes it to customer cars, else the engine is effectively sucking in hotter air (refer to 1st picture of the 1.2L petrol above):
The Amaze petrol is powered by the same 1.2 Liter SOHC i-VTEC engine as the Brio. The motor is rated at 87 BHP (@ 6,000 rpm) and 109 Nm of torque (@ 4,500 rpm). When this engine made its India debut on the Jazz, it was rated at 89 BHP (@ 6,200 rpm) and 110 Nm torque (@ 4,800 rpm). There are no changes to the engine, except a slightly different ECU map & gear ratios to improve low end power delivery. It comes with variable valve timing, similar to all other Honda iVTECs. The Amaze petrol is lighter than the Dzire by 10 kilos and enjoys a marginally better power-to-weight ratio. The Etios retains the top spot in the C1 segment with a power-to-weight of 97 BHP / tonne.
Pulling away from a standstill, the motor displays a decent amount of pep. Bottom end behaviour is the same as the Brio, and the Amaze offers above average torque at low rpms. This is no Etios 1.5, but neither will Amaze owners complain of poor driveability. The car is at home in urban traffic conditions. Of course, there is no comparison with its diesel sibling that offers double the torque at a third of the rpm level. The real fun is on the open road (Amaze diesel is quicker though). Like any other Honda, the engine feels eager to revv and is refined even at high rpms. The mid-range & top end is where this motor feels its best. The revv-happiness and performance put a huge grin on your face. You make rapid progress on the open road, and all that's required to overtake fast moving vehicles is a downshift. The engine revvs enthusiastically to ~6,700 rpm, where the electronic rpm limiter cuts in. It is easily capable of going higher up, but Honda's engineers decided otherwise. At 100 km/h in 5th gear, the engine is spinning at 3000 rpm. If I were to rank the petrol engines from the segment, I'd give the Etios petrol / Fiesta Classic the top spot, followed by the Amaze 1.2 and then, the Dzire 1.2.
The bright green ECO light is present on the Amaze petrol too. The car has an ARAI rating of 18 kpl (Brio = 18.4). The Dzire sits a full kpl higher at 19.1.
The Amaze petrol's clutch is super light, noticeably more so than the diesel's, and has a very short throw. As if to match, the gearshift is short & light as well. Overall NVH levels are markedly superior in the petrol. The idle is super silent, engine start / stop is seamless and there are no excessive vibrations felt on the pedals. However, the engine can get fairly vocal at the top-end and the exhaust note is sweet. This is something enthusiasts will appreciate, regular joes might not.
Driving on the highway, it's immediately obvious that the Amaze petrol has a lighter front end. Honda mentioned that the diesel Amaze gets stiffer dampers at the front (to cope with the additional engine weight) too. While the Amaze petrol feels that much more eager to change direction, it feels less planted. The petrol's steering is lighter in the city (a good thing) and it feels lighter over 100 km/h too (a bad thing). In terms of straight-line stability, I prefer the Amaze diesel's behaviour to the petrol. The difference between the two is quite noticeable. The Brio which runs a tauter overall setup is more confidence inspiring at speed. The petrol's short 4.5 meter turning radius is identical to the Brio. No need to make 3-point u turns anywhere! The brakes also feel better due to the engine's lower torque delivery.
The Amaze Automatic
Representative picture sourced from Anshuman's Brio AT review:
I didn’t drive the petrol Automatic. As it is mechanically identical to the Brio AT, you can refer to Anshuman's excellent driving report at this link. Do note that the AT's turning radius is 4.7 meters (the same as the diesel, higher than the petrol) and its ARAI rating is 15.5 kpl (1 kpl lower than the Brio AT).
• Team-BHP broke the car's name (link), and also its first Indian spotting (link).
• Honda can definitely teach Toyota a thing or two about making a cheap sedan that doesn’t feel cheap.
• Certainly looks like Honda took a leaf out of Maruti’s book. Just like the Dzire & Ertiga are spawned off the Swift platform, so are the Amaze & an upcoming MPV (thread link) based on the Brio platform. What the Swift platform is to Maruti, the Brio platform is to Honda. A compact SUV on either platform cannot be ruled out.
• It's usually easy to point toward the superior engine for any car. Not so with the Amaze. The diesel is an accomplished powerplant, yes. But the petrol is also a fun, refined and high-rpm friendly unit. Both are extremely competent motors.
• Honda is providing electrically-folding mirrors on the Amaze, but not something as simple & useful as doors that auto-lock once the car begins to move?! Clearly a lapse on their part.
• The driver-side Airbag features Honda's i-SRS system; continuously staged inflation which can accommodate a broad range of occupant positions and collision situations.
• Small 35 Liter fuel tank. Competition offers 40+ Liters.
• In preparation of the Amaze's launch, Honda has been slowly & steadily expanding its dealership network to tier II & III towns.
• Expect power boxes & remaps for the Amaze diesel from the after-market industry soon :)
• Since the current generation City is nearing the end of its product lifecycle, Honda didn't want to spend engineering effort in mating the diesel to it. The next-generation City (expected in 2014) will definitely have an oil-burner option.
• Unlike the City, Honda expects a lot of first-time sedan owners for the Amaze.
• I'd caught the Brio 3-cylinder diesel on test in Mumbai (link). NVH concerns made Honda scrap the 3-cylinder plan for now. That engine didn't make a pretty sound either.
• Very meek horn. Honda should have chosen a more powerful unit.
• The rear seat does seem to be better padded and more cushiony than the front seats. The front seats are medium soft, while the rear seat is super soft.
• When the car is standing still, the 1.5L diesel won't revv above 2,000 rpm.
• Mr. Attention-to-Detail - Vid6639 - was among the first people to drive the Amaze diesel at the Twin-Ring Motegi, Honda's R&D test track in Japan (link).
• Will be available in 6 colours : Majestic blue metallic, Carnelian red pearl, Urban titanium metallic, Alabaster silver metallic, Crystal black pearl and Taffeta white. No red colour option like the Brio.
• The ORVMs are adequately sized. However, with my laid-back driving position, the driver side mirror didn't angle out as much as I'd have liked. 6-footer drivers will definitely face this issue. No such problem with the passenger side unit though.
• The Brio is a familiar sight on our roads. Even though we are driving its yet-to-be-launched sedan version, not a soul in Goa gave the Amaze a second look.
• In all, the Amaze has 7 bottle holders. The Japanese must think we're a thirsty lot!
• Extended warranty & service packages will be made available for the Amaze.
• One major player missing in action from the compact sedan space is Hyundai (no, the vintage Accent doesn’t count).
• Work trip to Goa means less sleep, early morning wake-up and out in the sun the entire day (we were completely & truly drained by the evening). No shacks, no beach, no pool, no swimming trunks, no flea market, no renting bikes, no watersports, no Curlys and no Brittos. On the other hand, driving a new car fresh off the block makes it all worth it! Here's to the next road-trip holiday to lovely Goa.
• A huge shout-out to Talented Moderator Stratos for post-processing my review pictures!
• Disclaimer : Honda invited Team-BHP for the Amaze test-drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.
The Smaller yet Significant Things:
Two seat-back pockets:
My laptop bag helps show the boot's relative size:
Rear door doesn't open out as much as my folks prefer:
Euro Car Guru - Moderator Ajmat (5'11") - set the driver's seat up for himself. Then, he jumped at the back:
Factory-filled coolant is good for 5 years / 100,000 kms:
Key is identical to that of my Civic. Knowing Honda, don't expect an integrated remote on the spare key:
Storage cubicle / single bottle holder (between the front seats) has a carpet for a base! Neat:
Between the recirculate <-> fresh air slider is a light that illuminates the front cup holder area:
Zooming in on the steering-mounted audio controls:
Speaker covers are placed much too high. In fact, they stand taller than the neck restraints! These contribute to the poor rearward visibility:
The rear window rolled down all the way:
Only the top variant gets dual-tone seat upholstery:
Single washer unit throws out 3 jets of water. Works well:
This blue looks amazing and really suits the car:
What you’ll like:
• Priced lower than the outgoing Dzire. Noticeably better in most areas (quality, comfort, interiors etc.)
• Competent engine range. Very refined motors
• Absorbent ride quality, even over rough roads. Neutral road manners too
• Terrific fuel efficiency, especially from the diesel
• Effortless to drive in the city; light steering, clutch and gearshift. Automatic transmission available
• Maruti’s excellent after-sales service & wide dealer network
What you won’t:
• Oddball boot design. Side profile looks particularly awkward
• Small 316L boot & no folding rear seat either. Limited practicality
• Mediocre brakes (LXi / LDi & VXi / VDi), just like the mechanically-identical Swift
• Limited rear seat space is incomparable to the Manza, Etios, Verito et al
• Hefty 1.2 lakh premium for the Automatic transmission variant
• Long waiting period for deliveries of the diesel variant
What you'll like:
• Extremely neutral family sedan. Well rounded 6 - 7 lakh rupee car
• Fuel-efficient 1.3 diesel engine. Nice gearbox too
• Unreal back seat comfort. Interior space comparable to two segments higher
• Excellent ride quality. Acceptable handling
• Build quality, fit and finish are way improved. No longer a major turnoff
• Respectable level of equipment and safety kit
What you won't:
• Niggles & problems as reported by Manza owners
• Interior fit & finish still have room for improvement. Below average in some areas
• Lack of outright performance from either engine
• Inconsistent after-sales network
What you'll like:
• A practical family sedan. Realistic pricing too
• Spacious interiors can easily carry 5 adults
• Stunning in-city driveability (petrol & diesel, both). Torquey engine & nice gearshift
• Well-tuned suspension. Safe handling and flat ride
• Cavernous 595L boot swallows holiday luggage
• Toyota’s excellent after-sales service
What you won't:
• Dated, plain-vanilla styling. Lacks contemporariness
• Missing equipment (climate control, height adjustable seat, electric ORVMs etc.)
• Economy-grade interior quality & unconventional dashboard
• Cost-cutting glaringly evident in many areas
• Buzzy engine at high rpm. Cabin NVH is poor
Ford Fiesta Classic
What you'll like:
• Solid build quality
• Competent range of engines
• Superb ride and handling package
• Driver-oriented nature
• 1.6L petrol is superbly priced
What you won't:
• Inconsistent after-sales service quality
• Cramped interiors. Smallest amongst the sedans
• Niggles & issues, as reported by owners
• Fuel-efficiency of the 1.6 petrol
• Lack of power from the 1.4 diesel
What you’ll like:
• A well-rounded family sedan
• Superbly tuned 1.3L diesel powerplant. Short-throw gearbox is a pleasure to use
• Spacious interiors
• Excellent ride quality mated to neutral road manners
• Ideal for city driving : High seating position with a light steering, clutch and gearshift
What you won’t:
• Dated & unappealing styling
• Interior quality & dull design fade in comparison to the more contemporary competition
• Missing feature list (No climate control, steering-mounted audio controls etc.)
• Sensitive steering at high speed. Needs a steady hand on the expressway
• Some quirky interior bits : Push / pull type door locks, centrally-placed window switches etc.
What you'll like:
• Strong and robust build. Loves to be abused
• Competent diesel engine. No turbo-lag. Very fuel-efficient
• Excellent ride quality
• Spacious interiors
• High level of practicality
What you won't:
• Feels outdated. Getting long in the tooth now
• Inflated price tag (some variants)
• Cheap & basic feeling inside out
• Lacks appeal & image
• Lacks many essential fittings
Tata Indigo CS
What you'll like:
• Sheer value for money pricing
• Spacious interiors and comfortable seats
• Fuel-efficient diesel
• Excellent ride quality
• 380L boot. Respectable for a sub-4 meter sedan
What you won't:
• Feels outdated. Getting long in the tooth now
• Lack of refinement
• Shoddy fit and finish levels
• Inconsistent after-sales service
• Constant niggling issues & problems
re: Review: 1st-gen Honda Amaze (2013)
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Official Reviews!
re: Review: 1st-gen Honda Amaze (2013)
Excellent review GTO.
Looks like pretty much the same package as what I drove in Japan. The diesel engine looks like a rockstar of an engine with performance and FE to match. Honda have come late to the diesel party but what a way to join the party.
The car seems to be an extremely practical sedan with performance, fuel economy, excellent rear seat comfort and reasonable boot space on offer. The perfect Indian package and with a Honda badge to boot. The 2 most important launches of 2013 have to be the Amaze and EcoSport. Seeing Honda and Ford go about the campaign, I have to say Honda have done it perfectly. No delays to launch, just the right amount of hype and delivered a perfect product in the end.
As I mentioned in other threads, the Etios and Dzire have more than a match on their hands with the Amaze, provided Honda price it competitively. Will be interesting to see how Toyota and Maruti handle this.
Honda needs to get the pricing bang on. I’m not expecting it to undercut the Dzire but they should not aim too far off from the Dzire. I feel the right price point will be 20-30K more than the Dzire. This way it will pull buyers away from the C1 segment sedans like the Dzire, Sunny, SAIL and Etios as well as premium hatches like i20.
re: Review: 1st-gen Honda Amaze (2013)
Practical, performance, fuel economy, reasonable rear seat, decent boot space and HONDA! what else will you need. Most awaited launch of recent times is coming nearer!
re: Review: 1st-gen Honda Amaze (2013)
Thanks for the elaborate review. Based on these, I can say that Honda has a winner here. After so many best sellers, Honda has come out with another best seller.
re: Review: 1st-gen Honda Amaze (2013)
My goodness, this is one heck of a review, even looking it at a glance :thumbs up. Only god knows how many times I would have refreshed the Test Drive & Reviews section since today morning, when I read the heads-up from Moderator Rehaan that the official review would be up in the next couple of hours. This car no doubt is amazing on many counts. Only hope now is that Honda "amaze"s all of us even on the price front as well.
re: Review: 1st-gen Honda Amaze (2013)
Wow. Excellent review. I am sure this will be a winner. Honda removed the tag "no diesel car" with an excellent product. production capacity may be an issue as the demand may be much larger than supply. I have read that Honda is planning another plant in India.
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