The new Amaze looks totally different from the outgoing car. It does however carry the Honda signature ´solid wing face´ as seen on its City, Civic and CR-V. A familiar sight due to the angular head lights and thick chrome grille. The overall stance looks more proportionate and classy now, thanks to a more flowing design from nose to tail, a tall bonnet and attractive alloys. In profile, the nose section appears to end abruptly, but we all know it has been done to keep the all-new Amaze under four meters. Plus, a new radiant-red paint shade features as one of the five colours on offer.
For starters, the all-new Amaze’s cabin is nothing like the old car. While it gets a double layered dash that’s finished in black and beige, this dual-tone theme is also carried over to the door pads. An important highlight here is the piano-black trim and silver accents splashed all over, which go a long way towards lending a premium feel to this cabin.
On the flipside, the matt-black trim used on the steering and dash felt out of place. And even the shut-lines of the glove-box on our test car was way off the mark.
Succintly put, although the all-new Amaze is similar to the Maruti Dzire in terms of overall quality, it is no match for the Hyundai Xcent which still sets a benchmark in the segment. On to the seats now. The front ones now have better shoulder support than earlier apart from lots of cushioning and contours, adequate legroom, and ample headroom even for tall occupants. Having said that, thigh support could have been better.
At the rear, the seat is comfortable thanks to superior cushioning, lots of legroom, adequate thigh support, and an appropriate backrest angle. However, headroom is cramped for tall passengers and seating for three will be a tight proposition. If sitting in close proximities had you worried, at least Honda has come up with an increased compressor volume (over earlier Amaze) for better cool-down time, and we have to admit that the air-con did its job quite well on our drive. When it comes to the 420-litre boot of the all-new Amaze, there’s enough space for it to swallow four pieces of airline cabin baggage plus a few soft bags.
New exterior features on the Amaze include smart entry, LED turn indicators on the external mirrors, a shark-fin antenna and a newly styled alloys. Then there’s the a multi-function steering with cruise control, paddle shifts for the petrol CVT model, a large touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, reverse camera with guide lines, and push button start. Safety is taken care of by the ABS with EBD, dual-front airbags, and ISOFIX child seat anchors. Since all the CVT Amazes on our drive were ‘V’ versions, there’s reason to believe that the automatics will not be offered in the top-of-the-line ‘VX’ variants.
The petrol Amaze will continue to be powered by the same 90bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder, SOHC i-VTEC motor that was found in the outgoing car. We drove the manual version first, and straight off the bat, you notice the unusually audible engine noise, which gets even more pronounced on harder acceleration. There were many instances during the drive when I actually preferred to back-off the throttle, just to keep the decibels low.
Going forth, this motor pulls in a linear fashion all the way to 6600rpm red-line. That said, there’s a mild surge at about 4000rpm till 6000rpm, after which it tapers off gradually. Although the output (90bhp/110Nm) from this 1.2-litre motor isn’t exactly sizzling, there’s just about enough performance on tap to keep you going, be it in the city or out on the highway.
But at times, especially while overtaking, you may have to work the gearbox more than usual to extract more performance. Of course, what makes this task easier is the five-speed manual gearbox that has a positive feel due to a smooth shift action. This, coupled with a sporty gear lever and a light clutch pedal with a short travel makes for an ideal and relaxed driving experience. Honda added that the manual gearbox version would run 19.5km to a litre of petrol.
Let’s now move on to the new Amaze petrol CVT. This seven-step CVT offers what’s expected of it – a whole lot of convenience while driving. One can use the paddle shifts to select the rpm range you would you want to drive in, and it comes quite handy to drive smoothly. As long as you don’t floor the throttle, the power comes in seamlessly and the Amaze gains momentum in a progressive fashion.
However if you floor the throttle, engine noise gets intrusive, the rubber-band effect (like with all CVTs) gets obvious with rpms climbing annoyingly high, and it pauses longer than you’d like before gathering the pace expected of it. When you slot the lever into ‘S’, the rpms stay in the meaty portion of the powerband to give you the extra performance desired. But there’s no doubt that the decibels from the engine make it feel stressed. Which is why I chose to drive in ‘D’ with a light foot most of the time. Honda also told us that the CVT was capable of returning 19km to a litre of petrol.
Despite the larger wheelbase and wider tracks (front and rear) over the older Amaze, the new car is still 17kgs lighter, thanks to 22 per cent more tensile steel being used. What’s more, Honda has tweaked the suspension geometry, and strengthened the suspension bits for a better ride and handling. Although we couldn’t gauge the handling bit on our brief drive, the ride has certainly improved over the outgoing model.
We noticed that the suspension setup absorbs most bumps with ease and only the harsh ones thud through into the cabin. It is this attribute which makes for a comfortable drive, be it in the city or on the highway. On the other hand, once the car picks up momentum on the highway, the softer-set suspension throws-up some up and down motion.
We also noticed that the diesel car’s noise insulation was better than the petrol’s. Be it engine or road noise. Now, since the petrol engine is less than 100kg lighter than its diesel counterpart, a lot less weight in the front meant that the steering of the petrol version felt much lighter in comparison. While it did feel progressive with enough feedback for day-to-day driving chores, don’t expect it to be quick for fast manoeuvres or high speed corners. That said, it gets the job done without any fuss.