Honda is quickly getting back into the game and this time with a potent diesel engine in its armoury. The Honda Amaze (Brio-based compact sedan) that is to be launched in April 2013, will get a 1.5-litre diesel engine that is said to be really good, according to initial reviews.
AutoCar India and Business Standard Motoring got to preview the Honda Amaze at a test track in Japan, and had only good things to say about the car, going to show that Honda probably has a sure shot winner on its hands.
Looks and Design
Going by what these magazines say, and from the camouflage-adorned photos that the Bangkok Post posted earlier, the Honda Amaze has a very proportionate design. The wheelbase is longer than the Brio hatchback by about 60 mm, which has apparently freed up plenty of interior space. Both magazines claim that getting into the rear is easy, the rear seat is well-cushioned and that the floor is almost flat, allowing three to sit abreast comfortably.
The front gets a chrome grille slats and a new bumper design, but otherwise is visually similar to the Honda Brio hatchback.
Honda apparently didn’t give out the specs for the size of the boot, but according to reports from Thailand the Honda Amaze has 420 litres of boot space (400 litres in the boot and 20 litres under-floor storage). That makes it over 100 litres more spacious than the Maruti Dzire’s boot which is at just 316 litres. Also read: Honda Brio-based sedan to be called Amaze
Engine and performance
The highlight of the Amaze is its new diesel engine. This 1.5 litre unit is a scaled down version of Honda’s new Earth Dreams Technology 1.6 litre iDTec diesel unit that was developed last year for the European market, for the Honda Civic. The 1.6 litre version develops 118 bhp (120PS) of power and 300 Nm of torque! The 1.5 litre engine also comes with a 16-valve layout and twin-cam head, just like the 1.6 litre unit.
Honda apparently didn’t give out power specifications for the 1.5 litre unit, but educated guesstimates by the magazines put it at about 80 bhp of power. And the engine is expected to deliver a class-beating 25-26 kmpl of fuel economy on diesel – a sureshot winning formula for India.
We think Honda may choose to outperform this segment offering the engine in about 90PS of power and 200-220 Nm of torque (going by speculation that to downsize the 1.6 litre engine to 1.5 litre, Honda would have just altered the stroke and not the bore size of the engine, thereby losing a bit of compression and about 25% power in the process). But then again, in the interest of fuel economy, Honda may have detuned it further to 80 bhp, as it is still higher than the Maruti Dzire’s 75 bhp output.
The engine is apparently very refined, with torque coming in early (read – no turbo lag). The magazines claim that the car pulls well from as low as 1000-1200 rpm, with a surge in power appearing at about 1500 rpm and power topping off at about 3000 rpm. The clutch is light and gearshifts are smooth, which is to be expected anyway, going by how the Brio’s clutch and gearbox perform. This should make for good city drivability. The steering feel is also supposed to be good and weighs up with speed. Also read: Five practical cars that should be launched in India
What we think
The Honda Amaze looks like a winner from the initial previews and the fact that it will come with Honda’s first diesel engine for India, will ensure it gets some decent sales numbers. Can it beat the Maruti Dzire at its own game? It has the recipe to do so, and it just might. Honda’s diesel engine will also then add some fire to the rest of Honda’s line up in India, with the likelihood of a Brio hatchback diesel to follow, and a Honda City diesel and possibly a Jazz diesel. That will definitely make things interesting for the Indian market. Honda is likely to price the petrol 1.2 litre variant of the Amaze at about Rs. 5 lakh for the base model, going up to Rs. 7.5 lakh for the diesel top-end version of the Amaze. Also read: New cars from Honda in the next two years