We drive Honda's new Dzire competitor - and its a diesel!
Here are our first impressions of Honda's much-awaited, Brio-based Amaze. It is a sub-four-metre saloon, much like the Maruti Swift Dzire, which Honda benchmarked extensively when engineering this car. What's also important is the engine under the bonnet of this car. It will be Honda's first diesel engine in India, and though Honda hasn't revealed the 1.5-litre i-DTEC motor's power or fuel-efficiency figures, expect around 80bhp and about 25-26kpl. The engine is a scaled-down version of the 1.6-litre diesel that Honda sells in Europe, so this four-cylinder unit has a twin-cam, 16-valve head.
Driving it around the Motegi test track in Japan, the motor impresses with its refinement. Even better, though, is its responsiveness. It pulls well from as low as 1000rpm, and there's a gentle surge at 1500rpm when the turbo comes on full song. This engine does its best work below 3000rpm, which is fine – it promises to be easy to drive in the city traffic. Also cementing its city-friendliness are the gearshift and clutch action, both of which are smooth and light.
Driving on Motegi's smooth surface, it's quite impossible to judge the ride, but the steering does have more weight than the Brio's and this is a good thing.
The other important bit about the Amaze is it's extended wheelbase. In keeping with its saloon credentials, the Amaze's wheelbase is 60mm longer than the Brio's. It also gets longer rear doors that make accessing the rear seats slightly easier. Once inside, you'll find a seat that is nicely cushioned, with a lot more legroom thanks to the longer wheelbase. It is incredibly spacious in here; a lot more so than the Maruti Dzire. Some may find the seat-back a tad too reclined though. The centre tunnel is also very low, so travelling three-up in the rear shouldn't be a problem.
Up front, you'll find a dashboard that's identical to the Brio's, and the front seats are the same as well. In-cabin storage spaces include two cup-holders and bottle-holders in the door pads. While Honda didn't reveal the volume of the boot, it is clear that the Amaze's boot is bigger than the Dzire's.
Speaking of which, the boot is well integrated into the Brio's design. Honda had released a teaser image of the Amaze before its official press unveiling and what became instantly clear is that this would be a proper, three-box saloon. It’s got a defined boot section and doesn’t have that truncated rear end of the Maruti Dzire. Honda has tried to add some flair to the design with a smart, rising belt-line on the rear door that culminates in the interesting, City-like wraparound tail-lamps, and even the bumper gets its share of creases.
Other ways to distinguish the Amaze from the Brio are the double chrome slats on the front grille and the different front bumper. Apart from this, there have been no expensive sheetmetal changes, which is good – it will help Honda price the car well.
The Amaze is no doubt an impressive car, one that, even on this quick drive, clearly shows how it sets the new benchmark in this class. Honda's back in the race and how!