Boxy, Bold & Butch...But There's A Lot More

New Vehicle Review May 2018 Honda Cars India Honda Amaze
Boxy, Bold & Butch...But There's A Lot More

When first unveiled at the Honda booth in the 2018 Auto Expo, the 2nd generation Honda Amaze caught the attention of many. The Amaze has been a worthy contender for Honda in the compact sedan space ever since its launch back in 2013 and the new model aims to continue this legacy. Built on a brand new platform, the brief for the development team at Honda was to create a sedan one class above the competition. We had arrived in the city of Bengaluru to sample it for ourselves. Here is what we made of it.

The second generation Honda Amaze has made significant progress over the previous model and comes with many enhancements on the mechanical front. Aside from giving the new Amaze a more premium look and feel, Honda has also tweaked the mechanicals a bit and brought in their 1.5 l i-DTEC diesel powered engine mated to a CVT transmission. This will be the first time Indian consumers would be able to sample a diesel powered compact sedan mated to a CVT transmission. More on the powertrain options later in the report.

Neat and clean lines give the new Amaze a strong and definite character

EXTERIOR DESIGN & STYLING

When compared to the previous generation model, the new Honda Amaze seems light-years ahead. Not only is it contemporary on the outside, but quite functional and spacious on the inside as well. Honda has maintained a sleek and solid scheme for the exterior design. The boxy dynamics of this compact sedan are quite unique and can initially take some time getting used to. But upon closer inspection, one can easily draw similarities between the Amaze and its elder siblings from the Honda family.

The forward section of the Amaze looks quite busy with a rather flat nose and a thick slab of chrome housing the Honda logo, setting a butch tone. This paired up with the chiselled bumper lends the new Amaze a jaunty appearance. Honda has introduced LED DRLs on this new model and they blend in well with the straight-line design scheme used on the Amaze. To look at, the side profile of the Amaze is reminiscent of the Honda City. The distinct shoulder line runs seamlessly out of the headlamps and into the tail. This along with the pronounced wheel arches gives the sedan a definite character. Honda is also offering new 15-inch alloys as opposed to the 14-inch units available on the outgoing model.

The same boxy design scheme has been carried forward in the rear with sharp and suave looking tail lamps drawing the eye. The neatly sculpted boot rounds up the bold design theme of this sedan. The new Amaze will feature a keyless entry system with a touch sensor to lock and unlock the car. Also on offer are a shark fin antenna, parking sensors and a reverse parking camera. Adding to the contemporary looks of this sedan, Honda has updated the ORVMs and bolted on sleeker looking units with LED turn signals.

The rear is less dramatic as compared to the front

DIMENSIONS & SPACE

Built on a new platform, the dimensions of this new compact sedan have also been updated. The length of the Amaze now measures 3,995 mm, going up by 5 mm. The wheelbase as well has been increased by 65 mm and now stands at 2,470 mm. The width of the sedan is now 1,695 mm, increasing by 15mm. The increase in width also translates into a wider front and rear tread. While the front tread has gone up by 17 mm, the rear tread has been increased by 25 mm. Honda has also improved the ground clearance on the new Amaze by 5 mm, taking it to 170 mm.

The increased proportions of the vehicle have also helped engineers create considerably improved cabin space. Shoulder room for rear seat occupants has been increased by 45 mm, while knee room has improved by 40 mm. Headroom for the rear seat occupants, though, can be improved. The 1st generation Amaze came with a large boot and that has been increased on the 2nd generation model by 20 l, now measuring at a total of 420 l. While the boot of the Honda Amaze is rather cavernous, one does need to put in a little effort while loading luggage and cannot simply slide it in. The new Amaze also features large windows that cater to a roomy feeling inside the cabin.

The dashboard on the second-generation Amaze carries a sophisticated and premium look

INTERIOR DESIGN & FEATURES

By implementing a black and beige theme in the cabin, the Japanese stalwart has blended earthy tones with a sophisticated design language. The infotainment unit on the new Honda Amaze is an updated one, which now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. While a 12 V power outlet has been provided, Honda is also offering two USB input slots. The touch interface on the infotainment unit is quite responsive and seamless to use. Honda has also laid out the dashboard and infotainment unit in an ergonomically convenient fashion. The touch screen also doubles up as a rear parking camera, which enhances convenience for the driver and improves clarity in the rear.

Honda has incorporated multiple convenience features on the new Amaze, including keyless entry, push button start/ stop, electrically operated and retractable ORVMs, cruise control, automatic climate control, steering mounted control and Bluetooth telephony. We tested out the operational functionality of each feature and were more than satisfied with the usability and convenience offered. However, we did feel visibility from the IRVM could be improved. The quality of plastics seems to have received an upgrade too.

Another welcomed addition to the Honda Amaze is an enhanced air-conditioning unit. The compressor size on the Amaze has been increased on both the diesel and petrol variants. On the petrol variant, the compressor size has increased from 58 cc to 83 cc, while on the diesel variant this has increased by about 10 cc, standing at 120 cc. The result is a decrease in cooling time of nearly 26 % when measured at bringing the temperature inside the cabin down from 44° C to 22° C.

Automatic variants miss out on the top spec VX model

POWERTRAIN, PERFORMANCE & SAFETY

Honda will continue to offer the Amaze with two engine options, the 1.2 l i-VTEC petrol and the 1.5 l i-DTEC diesel. The addition to the line-up for the 2nd generation Amaze, and in our books ‘the star of the show’, was the diesel powered variant mated to the CVT transmission. Honda has also brought in its next generation five-speed manual transmission for the diesel engine, which is lightweight, highly efficient and capable of handling high levels of torque. The company has also implemented a few design changes on the diesel engine, primarily pertaining to the friction parts – piston, block, oil pump and chain system. These changes have in turn improved NVH levels for the diesel mill.

We got a chance to sample all four powertrains that Honda is offering on the new Amaze. The i-VTEC engine continues to render a linear build-up of speed with peak power churned out high up in the rev band. The 1.2 l petrol motor with four cylinders belts out approximately 89 hp of power at 6,000 rpm. It does take a while for the sedan to get going as the revs build up in a gradual fashion. The manual transmission married to the i-VTEC performs admirably, while the CVT does ease things out for the driver. That said, the CVT is being offered with paddle shifters that makes driving the Amaze a little more fun and enables one to get going a bit quicker.

NVH levels on the diesel-powered variants of the Honda Amaze have significantly improved

The turbocharged i-DTEC engine is a more peppy option to go for. It also comes mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT. The diesel unit, when mated to the manual transmission, churns out 99 hp of power at 3,600 rpm. However, this figure drops by nearly 20 hp, when mated to the CVT transmission. The decrease in power can be attributed to the way Honda has tuned the engine to match gear ratios on the CVT transmission. The results are a peppy yet smooth drive experience. The sedan is quick to pick up pace and there is no evident lag in power delivery. The next generation five-speed manual transmission also seems smoother than before with a lighter feel to the clutch operation. Torque figures for the i-DTEC diesel stand at 200 Nm @ 1,750 rpm for the five-speed manual transmission, and 160 Nm @ 1,750 rpm when mated to the CVT.

Honda has managed to improve the ride and handling of the new Amaze as well. By tweaking the angle of the damper and the new platform offering a wider front and rear tread, the new Amaze is more stable and renders better control, especially at higher speeds. The change in damper angle has also improved the ride comfort. Another change that enhances ride comfort is the application of urethane in place of natural rubber for the bump stop rubber component. Honda has also increased the shaft size, which in turn has added to the stiffness, improving ride comfort.

Braking on the new Amaze is facilitated by disc brakes for the front wheels and drum brakes for the rear. Braking is progressive and inspires confidence. In terms of safety, Honda will be providing driver and passenger airbags along with ABS & EBD as standard fitment. Other safety kit includes seatbelt pretensioner, reminder, ISOFIX mounts and head impact protection interior.

New alloy wheel design adds to the sedan's modish looks

ROUND-UP

Honda will be offering the new Amaze with three years, unlimited km warranty. This can be extended to four and five years as well, showcasing the company’s confidence in their product’s reliability. The new Amaze is a relatively competitive product but how well would it stack up against competition? We will find that out closer to the product launch and prices unveil. For now we can safely tell you that Honda is offering a well round product with ample of contemporary features, superior build quality and exceptional driving dynamics. Is it a class apart? We think yes!

TEXT: Joshua David Luther

PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay