Its launch is still a good five months away, and it has already created quite a buzz in the market, to the extent that it is clearly the car that the industry is waiting for in 2013, upstaging an equally compelling EcoSport from Ford, and is being touted as the frontrunner for the big awards for next year even as the jury is still out for this year's winners.
We are talking of Honda's new entry-level sedan to rival Maruti Dzire, the Amaze. The buildup would not have been as much had it been just a Dzire rival. What is more compelling is that Amaze would also be Honda's first diesel car in India, and its smallest diesel model worldwide till date.
For a company that is known to be finicky about quality, and one that has suffered in India by far the most for the lack of a diesel power train, this has GOT to get the top billing. Nobody has done exhaustive runs with the car, just got a look in. Here is what we found.
Exterior: Brio with a boost?
Sure it is. But unlike most cars in this category, the Amaze has its own distinct character.
From the front, there is no mistaking that it is a Brio. The few alterations like two chrome lining on the grille and a bigger air dam are microscopic and cosmetic. The pear-shaped headlamps are the same, and the overall stance and demeanour identical.
As with the Brio, the Amaze looks sharp and chiseled, with strong lines. The rear is where most of the artistry has happened. The boot flows with the body, and though it remains a sub 4-metre vehicle (to qualify for lower tariffs) neither is it an ill-fitting accessory nor does it look hacked off for the tape-measure. There are lines all around the vehicle - on the front, side and at the back as if it has been scored by the sword of a Samurai. Rounding off are the tail lamps that remind you of stablemate City.
Having done so much on the outside, the engineers were surely out of breath when it came to interiors. Not that it demanded a whole lot of changes. The dashboard and instrument panel were identical to the Brio. You may fault it for being simplistic, but the fit and finish are good and the quality top notch. The seats are comfortable providing the right kind of cushioning.
What is incredible is the amount of space Honda has managed to carve out at the back. When it is launched, the Amaze will be clearly the benchmark for space among sub-4-metre sedans. The only car that offers better leg room is the Etios, which is longer. And the Honda has exploited the Dzire's achilles heel as well - the boot is bigger.
The Amaze will be powered by a 1.5 litre, 4-cylinder engine. The exact specifications of the engine have not been revealed yet, as the car is yet to be road-tested in India. It offers enough power and torque to compete with peers. Honda has always been particular about the smoothness of an engine and hence diesel posed a peculiar but existential challenge. The engine is noisy and has a fair bit of harshness. But it takes off well from as low as 1,200rpm.
The perceptible changes from the Brio include a heavier steering and stiffer suspension that go in line with a heavier, bigger car. The handling is also decent and it holds its line well, though one did feel that 15" tyres would be better suited. Smaller tyres, however, mean better fuel economy. The one grouse was the car's surprisingly high body roll, especially at the rear - something completely unexpected in a Honda.