Cosmetic upgrades collectively improve its appeal.
The sub-4m sedan segment is growing in size, with new contenders like the Tata Kite 5 (codename) and VW Ameo joining the bandwagon later this year. Existing products now include the Ford Figo Aspire and Tata Zest which were introduced after the Amaze, and the Maruti Swift Dzire also underwent a major facelift in early-2015.
Amongst all the above sedans sits a key player in the segment - the Honda Amaze. Up until now, it hasn't received a major facelift since its introduction in 2013, other than new features and variant additions.
There was nothing drastic enough to warrant new attention towards Honda's sub-4m sedan. Until now.
Honda launched a much-needed facelift for the Amaze in Delhi yesterday, which is priced from INR Lakhs 5.29 - INR 8.19 Lakhs (ex-showroom). The changes are limited to visual, gearbox and build quality upgrades, and puts the Amaze in-line with Honda's latest product range.
Following its price announcement, we took the Amaze facelift for a quick test drive on the Greater Noida Expressway. And here are my brief impressions.
The facelift brings a fresh look to the Honda Amaze. It adopts a more aggressive face with a larger intake, bigger foglamp enclosures and a much bolder dual slat chrome grille that houses an upright Honda logo. They collectively add a dynamic appeal to the Amaze's face, and is a welcome change over the aging looks of the outgoing model.
Apart from the re-designed taillight clusters, rest of the exterior is largely identical to the outgoing model. It still has the distinctive squat profile with sharp creases on the sides and rear bumper, a bold chrome bar connecting the taillamps, and petal-shaped alloy wheels.
Inside, the new Amaze greets us to one of the biggest changes we've seen in Honda's entry-level lineup. Gone is the basic, plasticky dashboard for a simpler, well-appointed design that is lifted from the upcoming Honda BR-V. Accentuated with faux silver, the dashboard integrates a mix of matte plastic and piano black trim materials that are well put together. While the steering wheel design remains unchanged, the rim is wrapped in a new, grippy material that feels good to the touch.
The twist knobs for the HVAC system are replaced with chunky buttons neatly arranged across the lower console, which flank a new digital display exclusively for the HVAC system. Round aircon vents have been ditched for rectangular units with silver highlights. Also new is a wider instrument binnacle with blue-accentuated dials for the speedometer, tachometer and a separate digital fuel level dial inspired by the Honda Jazz. The door armrests are trimmed in black plastic with silver accents, so as to match with the new dashboard.
New additions to the comfort list include automatic climate control, Honda Connect mobile services, and an all new 2-DIN audio system with bluetooth streaming and telephony. However, the option of a 15.7 cm touchscreen display with satellite-based voice-guided navigation that was available in the previous model has been dropped in the new Amaze.
Dashboard aside, the cabin of the new Amaze remains unchanged. It still retains one of the strong selling points of Honda's sub-4m sedan - occupant space. It is airy, and has plenty of headroom and legroom for two large adults at the rear. Boot capacity is rated at 400-liters.
As for its safety quotient, Honda will offer the new Amaze with dual front airbags as optional and ABS with EBD as standard (only diesel variant) from the base "E" grade.
The variant we test drove was the 1.2-liter i-VTEC paired to a slick 5-speed manual gearbox. It is capable of belting out 87 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 109 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. Like any Honda petrol engine, the 1.2L is a rev-happy unit that offers peppy performance for quick city runabouts, but loses the oomph when occupied with passengers.
Another change that Honda talked about in its presentation is an all new CVT with G-Design Shift for the petrol variant. Though we didn't get to drive this model, its announced to be more fuel efficient than the 5-AT it replaces. The CVT returns 18.1 km/l as against the older model's 15.5 km/l.
Although the overall package of the outgoing Amaze was good to begin with, it doesn't really stand out when put alongside the latest offerings from rival manufacturers. Even in the top-end VX grade that had a price tag of over INR 8 Lakhs, the Brio-sourced dashboard and feature list felt quite basic for a sub-4m sedan commanding that price, and the exterior wasn't exciting to look at in the first place.
With the new changes introduced in the mid-cycle refresh, I believe that the 2016 Honda Amaze will be brought back under the spotlight. All the changes seen inside the new Amaze collectively add a premium look to the interior, which was otherwise missing in the outgoing Amaze. It has evolved along with the rising expectations of an average Indian customer.