First Drive - Honda Amaze 1.5-liter i-DTEC

02/04/2013 - 22:43 | ,  ,   | Shrawan Raja

All through yesterday, we presented chunks of information along with walkthrough videos to bring you up to date on the Honda Amaze. In this post, we're going to review the Amaze diesel through a round of question and answers.

Honda Amaze front view

Is it easy to get in and get out of the Amaze?

Sure, the ingress and egress is fairly easily even for a tall person. The doors open wide and while it may not be as easy as say entering a van, it takes no amount of back-bending or muscle flexing to settle down.

Steering height adjustment lever Driver seat height adjustment lever

[Left - Steering wheel cannot be adjusted for reach; Right - Height adjustment allows seat height increase by up to 50mm upward. Lever cannot be operated comfortably when the door is shut]

The dashboard is pushed into the A-Pillars freeing up plenty of knee room.

Are the cut-cost seats comfortable?

Honda Amaze front seats
The front seats are very supportive despite being thin and sporting a single piece design. Head room is generous as well.

Oh yes! In photographs the single-piece front seats may look like a cost saving measure but in reality they're very supportive. They provide good shoulder, back and neck support. The thigh support could be a tad better though. Honda has added a height adjustment feature for the Amaze that allows you to take the seats about 50mm above the lowest point.

Honda Amaze dashboard
The dashboard is exactly similar to the Brio's. Its pushed into the A-Pillars for excellent knee room.

Is the operation of the switchgear a noteworthy feature?

Honda Amaze cabin temperature controls Honda Amaze pedals

[Left - Apart from the inclusion of a demister, the air-con control unit is the same; Right - Omission of a proper dead pedal is a letdown]

As the dashboard and front doors are carried over from the Brio, there is a sense of harmony in the design of the controls. You get a very similar "tick" or "click" when turning up the air-con or switching on the windshield wiper.

Gear lever of the Honda Amaze
The gear lever knob is designed like a golf ball - The 5-speed gearbox has been specially designed to match with the 1.5L diesel motor.

All controls may not exude the exact same feel, but they feel like they've been designed by the same set of people.

Is there enough equipment on the dashboard to please a tech-savvy person?

Honda Amaze audio system
Would love to see a digital display on future variants with controls for audio and navigation. The current unit is a simple and inexpensive design.

I'm afraid that's not the case with either the Brio or the Amaze. There are no fancy screens, illumination lights or chimes. The music system is a basic unit and there's no climate control, not even on the top-end variant.

Honda Amaze glovebox
The glovebox is not very big, but there's plenty of small pockets around the cabin to store everyday articles.

The sound quality is average and the only consolation is the inclusion of USB and AUX ports. The steering wheel gets controls for audio, and the wing mirrors power fold. That's about all you get to keep the gadget freak in you going.

What about the utility factor of the cabin?

Honda Amaze boot space
Honda's managed to squeeze out 400 liters of boot space from this sub-4m long car!

Here's an area that the Amaze fares well on. There are lots of cubby holes to store small articles, there are lots of bottle holders and little areas where you can store coins or parking tickets.

Honda Amaze rear parcel shelf
The parcel tray is not very usable, but can you recall if that ever hampered your past buying decisions?

There are map pockets on the front seat backs and arm rests at the rear can hold two cola cans. The volume of the boot is 400 liters, which is remarkable for a car that is under four meters long and offers a no-compromise rear seat experience, a point we're discussing next.

Is there enough room for passengers at the back seat?

Honda Amaze rear seat
The Amaze gets class-leading rear seat space. The center arm rest is useful.

Thanks to slim front seats and a marginally longer wheelbase compared to the Brio (6cm) the knee room at the rear is indeed surprisingly good. Even with the seats pushed all the way to the rear, would you believe there's enough room for a six footer to sit there comfortably with room to spare?

Honda Amaze rear knee room
The floor is relatively flat and there are map pockets on the front seat backs.

While there isn't enough room for three six-footers, two adults and a child can sit comfortably, thanks to a relatively flat floor.

Moving back to the front seat, how does the diesel feel to drive?

The 1.5L diesel engine on the Amaze makes 100PS/200Nm and yet manages to deliver 25.8 kmpl in the ARAI tests. There's enough noise to suggest that the motor fires diesel upon cranking.

Honda iDTEC badge
100PS/200Nm and 25.8 kmpl - Amazing i-DTEC!

Though the engine is audible during acceleration, there are no harsh vibrations passing into the cabin.

Honda Amaze petrol alloy wheel design Honda Amaze diesel alloy wheel design

[Left - Petrol Amaze gets petal shaped spokes; Right - Diesel Amaze gets secondary spokes]

The engine operates silently in cruising. Turbo-lag is evident till about 1.5k RPM, beyond which the engine gets increasingly responsive. The alertness to inputs is the highest between 2k-3k RPM, but then again there's no horse coming out of the bonnet to kick you in the chest.

Honda Amaze diesel engine
The 1.5L engine is a derivative the 1.6L unit used in Europe - the stroke length is the only big difference.

The engine accelerates in a very linear fashion. This is Honda's way of announcing that its forte is petrol engines.

Honda Amaze front three quarters Honda Amaze front three quarters left

I hear the transmission has been developed specifically for this motor?

Honda Amaze taillampHonda Amaze wing mirrorHonda Amaze foglight

[Left - The lens cut is three-dimensional; Middle - Power folding side mirrors have embedded indicators; Right - Foglights, missing in the Thail model, are included on the India-spec car]

Yes, the 5-speed manual transmission is developed specifically for this motor. The shift quality is precise and as usual there's a golf ball atop the shifter. The clutch is light, perhaps an ounce heavier than the petrol car's. There should be no fatigue in the operation of this powetrain unlike many diesel cars which spoil the experience with a heavy clutch.

Is the Amaze comfortable to use over harsh roads?

Honda Amaze rear three quarters left Honda Amaze rear fascia

Despite running on 175-section, 14-inch wheels, the Amaze grips the road better than you'd come expecting. There are no complaints with the ride, though it is still a bit on the stiffer side. This makes the car handle corners better, the Amaze can be thrown around the bends with ease, and the steering weighs up to keep you well connected to surface beneath.

What do you like most on the Amaze?

Honda Amaze vs Honda City
Do you see any resemblances here?

I like the space at the back, this is the surprise element on this car. The packaging is class leading, they have managed to squeeze out 400 liters of boot volume which again is commendable. The specifications of the engine are very convincing, there's 100PS yet 25.8 kpl! The integration of the boot into the Brio's modified rear is carried out in a more tasteful fashion than other sub-4m sedans in India.

What do you think are areas where improvement can be shown?

Honda Amaze rear window profile
Not only is the rear door longer, its profile is different from the Brio's.

While there can't be possibly any complaints with the space at the rear, the headrests point in the direction of the passengers and for tall individuals, this can be a problem. The headrest drives into your neck every time the car accelerates. Height-adjustable units can solve this problem.

Honda Amaze blue
A new shade of blue has been inducted into the color roster

When it is time for the first lifecycle activity, Honda has to find a digital display that can do navigation and audio.

How do you rate the Honda Amaze?

Honda Amaze side view IMG_0632

Very highly. The Brio couldn't do it for Honda, the Amaze with the diesel option certainly can. This won't be a Swift Dzire killer, the product lacks the same retail support, service support and the reputation that Maruti's offerings automatically gain at launch. It will take a few years to catch on and sell consistently well.

How well can Honda price the Amaze?

Honda Amaze
A lot of effort has gone into making the Amaze. If priced on par with the Dzire, it will make a huge difference to Honda's numbers.

As most of the components are localized, prices shouldn't exceed 5.5-7.5 lakh rupees.

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