All-new 2018 Honda Amaze Review : Should the Maruti Dzire compact sedan be worried?

All-new 2018 Honda Amaze Review: Should the Maruti Dzire be worried?

The Amaze has had a successful run for Honda in the last five years and at times was the largest selling model for the Japanese car marker in terms of monthly sales. It redefined the sub-4 meter compact sedan market in terms of passenger space and introduced the most powerful diesel engine at that time. However, times change and so do rival offerings. This is where Honda kept planning the all-new second generation model and this is what we drove today in Karnataka. Can this upset the segment leader Maruti Dzire? Read on…

Let’s face it, the first generation Amaze wasn’t smart enough to win any beauty pageants. But when Honda took off the wraps off this new version, we were in for a pleasant surprise. I still wouldn’t call it a ‘beautiful’ sedan by any measure, but the new face does lend it a mature and a premium look easily, credit for which goes to the ‘solid wing face’ theme which has also been applied to other global models from Honda. The Amaze does not look like a ‘cheap’ sedan at all and this design theme gets carried over to the rest of the car. Agreed, the alloy wheels could have been classier but Honda, it seems, decided to play safe to cater to the masses than the enthusiasts.

The new Amaze is larger in overall dimensions as well. In terms of pure numbers, it is 5 mm longer and 15 mm wider but sits 5mm lower than the outgoing version – this gives it a low and wide stance, adding a hint of sportiness. The wheelbase is longer by a good 65 mm but more on that later. The new Amaze is available in a choice of five color options with the Radiant Red seen here being the new option. Both alloy wheels and rim cover designs have been updated. The higher end versions also get a one up increase in wheel size and now come with 175/65 R15 wheels.

The new Amaze really is an all-new car. Not only have the length and wheelbase increased, the sedan also gets a wider front and rear tread, up by 17 mm at the front and 25 mm at the rear as compared to the outgoing version. Even the ground clearance is higher by 5 mm and now stands at 170 mm. Further, the petrol model is lighter by 17 Kg while the diesel one sheds about 23 Kg, all in favour of the ever important fuel economy factor.

Changes continue on the inside as well and the new Amaze bears no resemblance to the outgoing model. I personally like the clutter free and clean design with the highlight being the DigiPad 2.0 and climate control up front. The speedometer console is also new and continues to show essentials like fuel consumption and outside temperature. Space has always been a trump card for the Amaze and the new one improves on that. We will let the numbers do the talking here again – the tandem distance has improved by 25 mm, rear shoulder room by 45 mm and rear head clearance by 10 mm. Boot space has also gone up by 42 litres to 420.

But does the extra space translate into comfort? Yes, but not without mentioning the new seats. These simply feel from a segment above and I can again vouch for the long distance comfort given my 53 day stint in the older version a few years back while breaking the then Guinness record for the maximum kilometers done in a single country without taking the same route twice. The new ones, up front, also tend to hug you really well. The air-conditioning particularly needs a mention here. The petrol models now get a 43 % larger compressor volume while for the diesel versions, this number stands at 9 %. This has resulted in the lowering of cool-down time and an increase in cooling performance.

It should be noted that the CVT versions will only be available in the V trim and not VX, thus missing out on the Digipad touchscreen, cruise control and one less USB charging point.

The new Amaze continues to be powered by the same petrol and diesel engine options. The petrol engine still puts out 90 PS of power along with 110 Nm of torque and will be offered with a choice of a 5-speed manual and a new CVT automatic option, replacing the older model’s torque converter. Fuel economy has taken a bump thanks to friction reduction technologies and now stands at 19.5 kmpl for the manual and 19 kmpl for the CVT model. We got a chance to sample the CVT petrol and this combination seems to work better than the manual version as the latter does suffer from a weak low end. The CVT box however erases this weakness completely and the engine climbs up to the right revs quickly when you want to go fast. This is the beauty of this type of transmission though it might end up being a slightly more expensive affair. The CVT petrol also gets paddle shifts to cater to enthusiasts, something missing in the diesel CVT reviewed next.

The diesel motor is now available with a CVT automatic transmission as well but the catch here is the output of the motor. As we all know, traditionally, CVTs are unable to bear high torque levels, and hence the diesel motor has been de-tuned for CVT usage, putting out 80 PS and 160 Nm – these are 20% less than what the same engine delivers with a manual gearbox. On the good side, Honda claims they have worked hard to keep NVH levels acceptable and have achieved both noise and friction reductions here. And in real world driving, this CVT is actually quicker than the more powerful manual diesel – we kid you not! This has been possible as depending on your accelerator inputs, the CVT box drops ratios to be in the correct torque band, pushing the car forward with an impressive punch. Roll-ons is where this set-up works very well, though flat out, the diesel CVT Amaze is not as exciting as its manual counterpart. Talking of which, the Amaze is once again restricted to a true top speed of 140 km/h which translates into 145 on the speedometer. Kitna deti hai? Well, the manual and CVT models are rated at 27.4 kmpl and 23.8 kmpl, respectively.

The 5 speed manual, Amaze Diesel continues to impress me. We had a diesel Amaze back home with over 1.2 lakh km on the clock and this one feels so much better. First, the NVH levels play an important role thanks to factors like improved soundproofing package, an engine undercover, several changes in the engine block and head materials and usage of lightweight materials. Second, the power / torque surge continues to come in early and third, as speeds rise, the Amaze starts to behave like a bigger sedan. This is also essential for those customers who are upgrading from a small hatchback and are looking for that important ‘bigger’ feel.

The new Amaze is based on an all-new platform that also aids the way the Amaze behaves at high speeds. Around the backside of the Bangalore airport on roads with ample bumps and speed breakers, the revised suspension set-up showed its true colors. For technical buffs, what the engineers did was replace the bump stop dumper from natural rubber to urethane. Likewise, the rear suspension geometry has also been changed by optimizing the roll center angle. On the rather empty Bangalore-Hyderabad highway, we did clock some serious speeds and even with three passengers and luggage on board, high speed manners were really impressive. And this includes cross winds as well as overtaking slow moving heavy commercial traffic – the Amaze sticks to its lane though brakes could have offered a better bite – I would blame this on the fact that the car we drove had less than 1000 Km on the odo and I believe the pads will offer their best behavior after a while.

Honda has also made the steering larger and heavier in terms of its weight – even the shaft size has gone up from 22 to 33 mm. This in turn calls for less effort from the driver and though I would not call it feather light, it works well for slow speed driving. High speed manners is something I’ve already discussed above.

The new Amaze also scores top marks in the crucial safety department. Standard features will include dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, child ISOFIX seats, head impact protection cabin and ‘failure reduction body’ – talking of which, the new Amaze meets the upcoming India crash norms and has already passed tests like frontal collision, side collision, rear collision, rear seat occupant protection and pedestrian protection.

And finally the cost of running. Honda will be offering a standard warranty of 3 years / unlimited km along with extended warranty options of 4 and 5 years, again with unlimited usage. This is segment best. The running cost is also lower than that of the Maruti Dzire with the Amaze petrol servicing cost coming to Rs 3,500 and that of diesel to Rs 4,900. This is for the 10,000km service interval. Impressive.

The only thing that remains to be uncovered is the pricing but knowing Honda, we expect the new Amaze to carry the same prices as the outgoing version. And that would answer this question – should you aspire and desire to get the new Amaze home? Well, you will not be disappointed is what I can say at this point of time.