Honda’s plucky little saloon joined our long-term fleet not too long ago and, to be honest, at first it was a little out of place. When the priority was a short blast through Mumbai’s agonising traffic, we’d hop into one of the smaller hatchbacks. If we had to leave the city for a shoot in the hills, it would usually be one of the bigger, more powerful saloons. As a result, the poor little Amaze got left out of a lot of the fun. But I’ve been driving it recently, and I realise now how wrong we were.
We gave it a nine-star rating when we road-tested it back in May 2013, and it impressed us with everything from its linear and powerful diesel engine to its amazing boot and interior space. Now so far, most of our time driving this car has been within the city, but its core strengths still shine in these conditions.
BIG BOOT: It is impressive that Honda has managed to carve 400 litres of space out of such a small car.
For instance, if you had to pick up a family of three and their luggage from the airport after a long international trip using a compact car, you’d probably be thinking about hiring a cab as well, just for the luggage. Heaven knows it’s what I was thinking just the other week, but as it turns out, I didn’t need to. It was a bit of a squeeze, but the 400-litre boot devoured all the luggage, with only a small soft satchel having to make its way to the rear seat.
For the quick blast back to South Mumbai (it was quite late at night, so there was none of that awful traffic), my travel-weary passengers were pleasantly surprised by how much room they had to stretch out, and I was pretty impressed that the ride remained sorted despite the car being fully loaded. What wasn’t so impressive was the noise in the cabin. As much as I wanted to hear exciting stories about their travels, my guests’ voices had to compete with a lot of tyre roar and a loud buzz from the engine. Thankfully, I had 20.4kgm of torque at my behest from just 1750rpm, so I could keep the revs low without the car running out of steam. Things wouldn’t have been as easy with the 1.2-litre petrol engine and its weak mid range.
AUDIO SYSTEM: If you're going to remove the CD player, at least give us Bluetooth.
That little excursion aside, the thing I’ve grown to love about the Amaze is that I can squeeze it into parking spots that most saloon drivers would simply drive past. Yes, the high-mounted rear speakers mean seeing out the back is a little hampered, but the light steering at least means manoeuvring it is a cinch.
Other bugbears? I haven’t used a CD in years, so I’m very happy with the USB/aux-only audio system, but I wish there was Bluetooth streaming, and that the speakers had a little more punch. And finally, if it was my money, I’d want a little more out of the cabin than the Amaze offers; it simply feels too bare and, dare I say it, cheap.
REAR LEGROOM: Here too it belies its exterior size, and most wont be left wanting.
All in all, the Amaze is less ‘neither here nor there’ and more ‘best of both worlds’, in its dual role of compact car and mid-size saloon. It’s proven to be pretty impressive when you use it in the city, but I plan to stretch its legs on the highway soon to see how it fares out there. Stay tuned.
PRICE: Rs 9.07 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
TEST ECONOMY: 18kpl
MAINTENANCE COSTS: None