The Dzire may look slightly odd with the chopped boot and Honda may have the upper hand in terms of design with the good looking Amaze, but one needs only to look at the Dzire’s sales figures (14,000 cars a month) to realise how popular this sub-four-metre Maruti is.
Now, if you’re thinking that it’s the Dzire’s success that spurred Honda into coming up with its own sub-four-metre saloon, know that work on the Amaze started way back when Maruti was still selling the old, fat-bottomed Dzire.
Nonetheless, both saloons are designed to take full advantage of the Indian government’s small car tax benefits and we pit them against each other to see which one will benefit you the most.
At Rs 7.6 lakh, this top-end Amaze VX i-DTEC costs Rs 9000 more than the Dzire ZDi’s Rs 7.51 lakh. The question is whether the new Honda saloon is amazing enough to topple the leader.
While the Dzire is based on the Swift, the Amaze is based on the Brio. The Swift is half a class above the Brio (although Honda has extended the Brio’s wheelbase for the Amaze) and has better interiors. The latter is an important point, because both the Amaze and the Dzire share dashboards with their hatchback siblings. The Swift’s stylishly upmarket dashboard is more suited to the higher expectations of saloon owners than the Brio’s rather spartan interiors. The Amaze’s vents, centre console and instrument panel don’t ‘line up’ in the traditional sense and there are some odd-looking bits, like the joint of the glovebox. The instrumentation is easy to read but doesn’t look as classy or as sophisticated as the Dzire’s jewel-effect dials.
The driving position is near perfect. The dashboard cowl is low, so there’s great visibility forward, the controls (gearshift, clutch, throttle, steering) need less effort to use than the Dzire, and the seats are nicely contoured. Still, we did find them lacking slightly on shoulder support.
The Dzire’s front seats are better. The cushioning is superb, the bolstering is snug and the driving position is good as well. However, the dashboard is a touch too close and the dark insides don’t give you the airy ambience of the Amaze. The Dzire’s dashboard really feels a cut above the Amaze’s. From the V-shaped centre console which houses the electronic climate control (on the ‘Z’ versions) and the two-DIN integrated audio system to small details like the smart-looking air-con vents.
In the back, however, the Dzire doesn’t have as much legroom as in the Amaze. The small windows and the all-black cabin add to the feeling of claustrophobia.
The Amaze’s wheelbase is, incredibly, 25mm shorter than the Dzire’s, but there’s more space inside thanks to Honda’s clever packaging. The dashboard has been pushed forward as much as possible to maximise cabin space and the front seats are slim, making for more rear passenger legroom. The chauffeur-driven will appreciate the legroom, headroom and the sense of space you get thanks to the beige fabrics and big windows. The rear seats themselves are very comfortable, with superb cushioning and great support.
The Amaze’s well-shaped 400-litre boot will let you squeeze in a bit more.
Both cars come with two airbags, USB connectivity, alloy wheels and remote locking, but the Dzire offers a bit more – it’s got climate control and a CD player. The only feature that the Amaze has over the Dzire is electric folding mirrors.
Also, the Dzire feels the more solidly built of the two.
Honda claims the Amaze diesel is the most efficient car in the country, and our tests have confirmed that – it returned 15.2kpl in the city and 20.8kpl on the highway. These figures are incredible when you consider that the 1.5-litre motor produces a very healthy 98.6bhp. But the Dzire is not that far behind, and returned an impressive 14.6kpl and 19.8kpl for the same cycles. But it has a much bigger 42-litre fuel tank than the Amaze’s 35 litres. So, the Maruti will travel nearly a 100km more than the Honda on a full tank of fuel.
Both cars use the traditional independent MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle. The Amaze has good body control, a well-weighted electric steering and rather impressive cornering manners. It handles predictably and there is a nicely planted feel to it when you’re driving fast. If anything, the suspension is a tad stiffer than the Dzire’s, resulting in slightly sharper vertical movements over bumps, but this is a minor issue. The long-travel suspension absorbs even bigger bumps nicely and the suspension is refined as well.
Over the same piece of road, you’ll find that the Dzire, with its slightly softer suspension, has the better low-speed ride. Its 15-inch wheels (the Amaze has 14-inchers) marginally improve the ride as well. However, it doesn’t have the planted feel the Amaze has at higher speeds, and the steering isn’t as consistent off-centre either. But at real-world speeds, both cars are pretty evenly matched.
If anything, the Amaze’s cabin feels less insulated than the Dzire’s and lets more ambient noise in, especially on coarse surfaces. There’s noticeably more tyre and wind roar.
This contest is rather close. The Dzire comes with more kit, feels better built and the cabin is plusher. The ride at low speeds is also slightly better. But then, the Amaze’s responsive engine, brilliant handling, perfect driving position and bigger boot make a very strong case. It’s far more comfortable and better to drive overall. Though it is a little more expensive, the frugal fuel consumption justifies the extra cost.
So while both cars have their strengths and have some key advantages over each other, overall, the practicality and user-friendly nature of the Amaze makes it the winner.