In the Nepali automotive market, where SUV’s are the primary weapon of choice for families, many would gloss over the option of something like a compact sedan as their choice of primary hauler.
It’s a tough fight to sell family cars, where battles are fought and won in areas of safety, convenience and family friendliness. We all know the benefits of a SUV, especially a large one. However, the positives of a compact, small sedan can’t be forgotten either. We’ve spent some time in the Honda Amaze, and we have to say it, we’re terribly impressed.
With that Honda badge on the back and a 1.2 liter heart under the bonnet, this is a petty reliable thing. It costs Rs 41,50,000, which is on the premium side of the segment. The cheapest of the range is the S, which goes for Rs32,75,000.
Honda has gone through a lot of effort to really jazz up the look of the Amaze. The exterior design has a lot more in the way of eye-catching details, like an angular grille design and mini-Civic-like rear end. Dimensions have changed a little with the new design: the all-new Amaze is 5mm longer (3995mm), 15mm wider (1695mm), and 4mm lower (1501mm) than the outgoing model.
Being all about comfort and convenience is part of the Amaze’s DNA, and is likely something that won’t ever change. Don’t expect any kind of big compromises or harder edges. However, the new model has had a real kick in the pants compared to previous generations. Along with a reworked design inside and out, the way the Amaze drives has also been really rebooted.
Steering, particularly off-centre, isn’t very sharp and it doesn’t feel agile or willing to change direction quickly. Body roll is on the higher side, as a result of the softer suspension set-up. The suspension tune is definitely tuned for comfort, but not to the point of feeling disconnected. It’s tuned really nicely for the intended purpose: punting around town and soaking up the rough surfaces nicely.
Aside from a bit of intermittent light whistling around the windscreen at highway speeds, and your typical tyre rumble on rough surfaces, the Amaze is impressively quiet on the inside.
The engine is the same 1.2-litre 4 cylinder unit from previous generation, and is perennially smooth and refined, and tuned to offer strong bottom end and midrange grunt though top end performance has been compensated. There is 90 PS of power at 6000 rpm and 110 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm. Honda claims to have improved overall sound insulation and has redesigned the engine block, used a different head cover material and optimised the engine mounts, all in the interest of keeping a check on the noise and vibration levels inside the cabin.
Powering the front wheels through a five-speed manual and a same ratio CVT gearbox, it shifts the 1031kg with some gutsy enthusiasm but has a slight rubbery feel. It’s a really nice driveline.
Another positive of the 1.2 liter petrol is the fuel usage. As per ARAI one liter of fuel gets you 19.5 km. We saw figures a little bit lower than that on longer and more loping runs, but heavy traffic won’t be too friendly.
The interior’s design is as refreshing as the exterior, and does give a really premium feel. The beige-black dashboard looks premium at first glance and Honda has incorporated a piano black trim quite nicely. The rest of the cabin is beige, which lifts the sense of space and airiness on the inside. Honda has finally given adjustable front neck rests, and the seats are rather well shaped, offering good side and shoulder support.
The infotainment unit is 7.0 inches in size and embedded in glossy piano black. Android Auto or Apple CarPlay will be a good compliment for some prospective buyers, and the interface is easy to use but it feels fiddly to operate and the software is a bit slow to respond. The physical buttons placed beside the screen feel small and cheap.
The instrument binnacle is a little basic. Well-sized fonts make it easy on the eyes. The white rings looks good and personally, we like them over the usual chrome. The meters neatly illuminate when you open the doors. The temperature gauge is missing though. Only a warning light is provided.
We mentioned convenience before, and the Amaze punches well in this category. Voice command, IR remote control, seats height adjuster for the driver, keyless entry and exit and automatic climate control.
Seating is comfortable, with lots of adjustment and cosseting. It comes finished in a creamy beige interior that does look quite premium. The beige-black dashboard looks premium at first glance and Honda has incorporated a piano black trim quite nicely. The front passenger benefits from height adjustable seats. It’s a very comfortable vehicle for four, but the fifth person does get a bit short-changed.
You’re much better off running it as a four-seater and flopping down the centre cupholder. And for those few people who are buying a sedan like this as a family car, you’ve got ISOFIX points. Speaking of baby seats lets us segue onto safety, which is another strong point for the Amaze. There are ABS, EBD, dual airbags and Isofix child seat mounts on the rear seat are standard across the range. It has received four star GLOBAL- NCAP rating.
Another important point for the budding family buyer: boot space. The Amaze has a big boot of 420L. Underneath the floor is a space-saver spare. But when your kids get older and graduate from being buried in a child seat to burying their face into a smartphone, you have not got USB power outlets for the second row, also no air-con vents at the back.
The new Honda Amaze is clearly a massive step-up from the first generation car in every respect. It’s not just the overall dimensions, but in key areas like refinement, ride quality and overall space and comfort that the Amaze has truly stepped up its game. It is good to drive, smart inside and well equipped. It’s one of the very best small cars and gives a good edge to the rivals. In this SUV dominated market if something different is your choice, you surely should consider the Amaze at the price bracket of Rs 30-40 lakhs.