Get in the car, turn the ignition on and there ends all the familiarity you have had with Hondas in India till date. The atomized diesel fuel in the cylinder explodes under the immense pressure and as the pistons start thumping up and down, the Honda Amaze shakes off the shackles in a very obvious way. As the entire car shudders, the realization sinks in that this is India’s first diesel Honda. Unfathomable. How does one of the biggest names in the automotive industry decide to sit back and watch the competition gobble up their market share, standing steadfast on the principle that gasoline engines with their high revving nature are more suited for passenger cars than diesels? Nearly a decade after their first diesel, Honda has finally decided to bring to India a 1.5 L i-DTEC diesel under the hood of the Amaze. The Amaze is based on the Brio platform, and will try to knock the Maruti Suzuki DZire off its high perch. Something that seems entirely plausible if you take into account the 20,000 bookings made in the first three weeks of the launch of the Honda Amaze. Read on for our impressions.

Photography: RD, Pradeep Mohan

Disclosure : Riot Engine was not invited to drive the Amaze in Goa. While we waited, twiddling our thumbs for our turn to drive the media vehicle down south in Chennai, an enthusiast who also happens to be good friend of Riot Engine offered his spanking new Honda Amaze for the review.

Honda’s Tryst with Diesel

It was in 2003 Honda introduced its first diesel engine for passenger cars. This was the 2.2 litre
i-CTDi that went on to win the Engine of the year Award in 2005 having served under the hood of the CR-V, the FR-V, the ’03 Accord and the Civic.

The first of the i-DTECs was introduced in 2006. The 2.2 litre i-DTEC was a cleaner diesel engine employing a NOx catalytic converter. This engine powered the CR-V starting from 2008 and continued to power the Accord, and the Civic. While the engine normally made 150PS, there was also a special 180PS variant that powered the Type S Accord.

It was in 2013 that the downsized 1.6-litre i-DTEC was introduced. This engine was designed to replace the 2.2 litre diesel and embraced Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology philosophies and was a lightweight unit with high performance and lowest emissions in its class. This 1.5 litre diesel that powers the Amaze shares a lot with the 1.6 litre diesel including the cylinder block with the same bore.

Earth Dreams Technology

This phrase has been bandied about by the boffins at Honda everytime they talk about their diesels. We thought it was only fair we give you a concise explanation of what exactly ‘Earth Dreams Technology’ is all about.

“The key focus of our Earth Dreams Technology philosophy is to balance environmental efficiency with the dynamic performance expected of a Honda,” says Suehiro Hasshi, Large Project Leader for Civic 1.6-litre i-DTEC. “It is important that our cars are fun to drive.”

While it is true that the majority of customers in the Europe prefer diesels for the phenomenal fuel economy numbers, Honda believes the consumer shouldn’t have to compromise on the driving dynamics of the car. All diesel engines developed with the Earth Dreams Technology philosophy, start with the basic premise of building a powerplant that will ensure there will be no compromise on the driving dynamics of the car. When the R&D folks at Honda developed the 1.6 litre diesel, they wanted the Civic diesel to be an additional variant to the existing petrol engine lineup and not a special edition riddled with compromises.

The key steps here would be to reduce the weight and dimensions of the various components of the engine, reduce friction and ensure every component works to its optimum levels of efficiency.

 

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Honda Amaze 1.5 L i-DTEC Engine : Earth Dreams Technology

 

Honda Amaze Review Interiors 13

Powertrain

The 1.5L i-DTEC engine makes 100PS @ 3,600 rpm and 200Nm @ 1,750 rpm all the while claiming an ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 25.8 kpl! We saw a 19.7 kpl figure on this Amaze which had done around 500 kilometres, most of which was on the highway. As with most engines, expect the efficiency to improve as the engine completes its run in.

The 1.5 L i-DTEC is definitely on the better side of refinement compared to the competition and can hold its own even when thrashed about. The diesel engine can be only had with the fantastic 5 speed manual box.

The 1.2L i-VTEC petrol engine is also available and makes 88PS @ 6,000 RPM and 109Nm @ 4,500 RPM. The petrol engine can be had with either the 5 speed manual box or the automatic transmission.

Design

Honda Amaze Review 22

The Honda Amaze’s design starts at a concept Honda calls ‘Smart Micro Limousine’. The contradictory name in itself is a straight hint at what the Amaze wants to be. A family sedan with a small footprint but with excellent space inside, courtesy of ‘smart’ optimizations. The Amaze design takes Honda’s “man maximum machine minimum” concept to a new level, maximizing the space available for people and minimizing the space required for mechanical components. As we had mentioned in our walk around video earlier, even with a driver of average height up front, there’s enough space at the rear to be comfortable. The efficient packaging of Amaze works towards ensuring this rear occupant space does not come at the cost of boot space. The boot space is around 400L accommodating 2 piece of medium size luggage and 2 piece of small size luggage.

If you aren’t facing the Amaze head on, you’d be hard pressed to point out that this sedan was built on the same platform as the Brio. The Amaze has a well incorporated boot that doesn’t look like its been slapped on. The double creases on the shoulder line break the monotony of the side surface and make the Amaze look longer than it is.

The chiseled large tail lamps work in favour of the Amaze. The chrome touch at the rear isn’t excessive and adds a premium feel to the sedan.

The Amaze gets exclusive alloy designs, one for the petrol and one for the diesel variant.

 

Honda Amaze Review : Tail lamp

Honda Amaze Review : Tail lamp

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Alloys on the diesel variant



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Alloys on the petrol variant

Ride & Handling

Honda Amaze Review 03

The Amaze’s sprightly diesel and short throw transmission with the light clutch makes for a very fulfilling drive. The torque is spread out evenly over the rev band making it a very easy car to live with in traffic.

The Amaze uses McPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear, not unlike the Brio. The Amaze has wheelbase of 2405mm which nearly 60mm greater than the 2345mm of the Brio. The suspension handles potholes well keeping occupants isolated from the bone jarring irregularities. The suspension is more on the softer side but the compromise on handling is minimal. Body roll is present but not enough to bother the enthusiast driver.

With a ground clearance of 165mm the Honda Amaze has no trouble handling the speed bumps on our roads.

The steering is balanced being easy enough to handle in the city and feels more weighted at higher speeds. Tyres are adequate for the intended purpose of the Amaze.

 

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Suprisingly adequate rear legroom

 

Honda Amaze Review Interiors 10

Honda Amaze Review Interiors 16

Honda Amaze Review Interiors 18

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Interiors

Honda Amaze Interiors 08

This is where you start to wonder if Honda should have a new brand for its ‘reasonably’ priced cars. Maybe that is an exaggeration, after all Honda did get some flak for the ridiculously finished central console on the new Honda City. The chocolate coloured textured plastic we’ve seen on the Brio continues its streak of havoc here. Of course, that’s just our opinion. The steering though, feels fantastic to hold. The seat fabrics are good but leather at least as an option on the top end variant would have been a nice addition.

There’s the ubiquitous Honda golf ball gear knob which is comfortable in your hand. The drivers seat is adjustable for height and the steering wheel for tilt.

The refinement of the diesel which is best experienced from outside the car, fails to translate into the interiors, thanks to poor sound insulation. We are not sure if this was a cost cutting measure or a weight saving measure ( oh that magic number of 25.8 kpl !) but Honda could definitely take a leaf out of Ford’s design books for the EcoSport and work on reducing how much of the engine noise makes its way inside.

Steering mounted audio controls are available on the S and VX variants. The utilization of space in the Honda Amaze is to put it simply, mind-blowing!

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Safety

Amaze’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body enhances self-protection while reducing damage to other vehicles in the event of a collision. The Amaze features a host of Honda’s active and passive safety technologies including Dual SRS airbags, ABS+EBD, pretensioner seat belts and impact mitigating headrests. The ABS with EBD is being offered as standard across all Diesel and AT variants. The Amaze is also pedestrian friendly with a front body structure that is designed to absorb impact energy.

Variants

The top end VX variants get dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, the stunning alloys, power folding ORVMs and audio controls on the steering wheel and segment first heat absorbing windshield. The segment first heat absorbing windshield is reported to reduce temperature by 6°C when under the sun for 20 minutes.

The petrol variants include the E,EX, S and VX in manual transmission while the SAT and VXAT have the 5 speed automatic transmission. There’s no option of an automatic transmission on the diesel. The technologically advanced 1.5L i-DTEC diesel is available in four variants of the Amaze, E,EX, S and VX.

The Amaze is available in the new shade Majestic Blue Metallic and the usual Urban Titanium Metalli, Taffeta White, Carnelian Red Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl and Alabaster Silver Metallic.

Variants Explained

ABS with EBD is standard on the diesel variants and the petrol automatic variants, and available only on the top end VX trim in the manual petrol.

E EX
In addition to the features on E Trim
S
In addition to the features on EX Trim
VX
In addition to the features on S Trim
Tilt adjustable Electric Power Steering

Front and Rear Power Windows

Central Locking and Immobilizer

Body coloured bumpers front and rear and chrome grille

Rear micro antenna,but no audio system

Eco Lamp, Fuel Consumption Display

1 DIN Audio

Front Speakers

Body Coloured Handles and outer rear view mirrors (ORVMs)

2 DIN Audio

Steering mounted Audio Controls

Driver seat height adjuster

Rear seat armrest with cup holder

Keyless entry

Power adjustable ORVMs

Full wheel trim

Front dual SRS airbags

Alloy Wheels

Integrated indicators in the power adjustable ORVMs

Front fog lamps and rear defogger

Dual tone interior

Heat Absorbing Front Windshield

Double Horn

Verdict

The Amaze is an all round excellent package. The 1.5 L diesel mill is a marvelous piece of engineering as is the fantastic utilization of space inside. With the prices being competitive enough, the Amaze is a home run in the making. Honda believes a number of customers will be first time car buyers, and a major chunk of them from Tier 2 cities. Efforts have been made to ramp up the reach of their sales and service network to these parts of the country. Rest assured, with the famed reliability of a Honda, most of these customers will lead a satisfied happy life with the Amaze. This begs the question though, what of the enthusiast?

In its quest to reach out to a wider market, has Honda risked alienating its existing customers? A diesel engine might be acceptable to the Honda enthusiast in this country taking into account the staggering prices of the lighter fuel. What might not go down well with the discerning customer is the shudder and roll when the ignition is turned on as well as the sound insulation inside the cabin which is average at best. One particular enthusiast we know pointed out how badly the inside edges of the wheel arches were finished, all in the short duration he spent with the car. Being a stranger to the Brio as well, he simply could not come to terms with the fact that this interior really belonged to a Honda.

All said, we’re still a nation that rushes straight to the diesel variant in the showroom. The 1.5 litre diesel mill just might turn out to be Honda’s ticket to setting the sales charts on fire again.

Pricing

Ex-showroom Delhi

Variant Petrol Diesel
Honda Amaze E
Honda Amaze EX
Honda Amaze S
Honda Amaze VX
Honda Amaze SAT
Honda Amaze VXAT
Rs. 4.99 Lakhs
Rs. 5.24 Lakhs
Rs. 5.62 Lakhs
Rs. 6.60 Lakhs
Rs. 6.62 Lakhs
Rs. 7.50 Lakhs
Rs. 5.99 Lakhs
Rs. 6.24 Lakhs
Rs. 6.67 Lakhs
Rs. 7.60 Lakhs
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