• Big improvement in terms of build, quality and fit-finish...
    Big improvement in terms of build, quality and fit-finish of the interiors over the first-gen Amaze.
  • In terms of comfort and space, this has the nicest backse...
    In terms of comfort and space, this has the nicest backseat in its class.
1 / 0
Rating 8 8

2018 Honda Amaze review, road test

13th Sep 2018 6:00 am

With an increase in size and premium appeal, the new Amaze is a very competent compact sedan.

  • Make : Honda
  • Model : Amaze
We Like
Smooth diesel-CVT
Large 420-litre boot
Spacious cabin
We Don't Like
Some missing equipment
Cabin insulation
Tends to wallow at high speeds

The first-gen Amaze was a pioneer for the Honda brand in many ways. It was the first Honda in India to get a diesel engine and it was also the carmaker’s first crack at the compact sedan segment. It went on to become a huge sales success and in the span of five years, it reached 2.5 lakh households to become the second bestseller in the segment (after the Dzire) and the second bestselling Honda too (after the City). So the Amaze is a very important car for Honda, and, for this all-new model, the Japanese company has taken lots of learning from the first-gen car to take the game up several notches.

Gone is the built-to-a-cost Brio platform – a fundamental weakness of the previous-gen model; this time round, the second-gen Amaze is built from a clean sheet of paper, or, specifically, an all-new platform. Honda claims to have engineered and incorporated several features in the new Amaze, based on user feedback. Strengths like space and practicality have been enhanced, the premium feel has been upped and even claimed fuel efficiency, from the familiar 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines, has been improved. The option of a diesel-CVT is a trump card that distinguishes the Amaze from its rivals. More on that later.

Honda Amaze headlamp
Halogen headlamps with LED pilot lamps. Doesn’t get DRLs.

Initial demand for the new Amaze has been very strong and it has contributed to over 50 percent of the sales for Honda in India. In fact, prices have already been bumped up a bit, ranging from Rs 5.80-8.10 lakh for the petrol, and Rs 6.90-9.10 lakh for the diesel. 

The previous-generation Amaze was based on the Brio hatchback and that reflected in its overall design. However, this second-generation model has been developed from scratch and its platform will serve as a base for future Honda models. The new car sheds 40-60kg due to the use of high tensile steel that’s lighter yet stronger than conventional pressed steel panels. Honda claims that the overall structure has been further strengthened, cross sections have been beefed up and crumple zones are stronger now, making the car ready to meet all upcoming crash test regulations.

Like the older generation, the dimensions of the Amaze have been restricted to sub-four-metres, qualifying it for a lower tax structure. It is 5mm longer and 15mm wider than the car it replaces, and the front and rear track have increased by 23mm and 28mm, respectively, so its stance feels more planted and proportionate than before. The wheelbase has gone up by a significant 65mm to 2,470mm.

Honda Amaze rear suspension
With a full load, the rear suspension compresses a fair bit.

The overall design is very different from the older car – it is smart, stylish and doesn’t look like a compromised compact sedan; instead, it looks more expensive now. A talking point of the Amaze’s design – and one that divides opinion – is the vertical grille that looks like the car has rammed into a wall. But to many, the chunky chrome grille looks really good. Even though the wheels are an inch larger than before, at 15 inches, they appear a size smaller and don’t fill the large wheel wells nicely and the design seems bland, especially when compared to what Maruti offers. Unlike the distinctive two slashes on the older car, the waist line now is subtle. The biggest change, however, is at the rear where the ‘C’-shaped tail-lamps give the car a mini-Civic-like look.

Tuck your hand behind the door handles to open either of the front doors and the proximity sensors unlock the car automatically, saving you the effort of pressing any button; a nice touch. The beige-black dashboard looks premium at first glance and Honda has incorporated a piano black trim quite nicely. The rest of the cabin is beige, which lifts the sense of space and airiness on the inside. Finally, Honda has included adjustable front neck rests, and the seats are rather well shaped, offering good side and shoulder support. Taller drivers will find the need to raise the seat height, else they’ll sit in a knees-up position due to the low-set seats. The front passenger’s seat, however, is fixed and is placed very low. The white dials are easy to read and so is the Multi-Information Display (MID), although, the latter can seem a bit cluttered. Overall, ergonomics are spot on and everything falls to hand easily, with several storage areas spread across the cabin.

Honda Amaze glove box
Glovebox pops open every time the car goes over a sharp pothole carrying some speed.

Like before, the Amaze’s backseat impresses. The recline angle, the cushioning and the support are just right. Legroom at the rear is huge and if you’re chauffeur-driven, this is one of the better backseats around. When it comes to cabin width, you get an extra 80mm of rear shoulder room than on the older car, but it is still best for two passengers only. There are some flaws, like headroom is tight for taller passengers, but what’s most disappointing is the absence of adjustable rear neck restraints; the ones offered now are too short and may result in serious whiplash injuries in the event of a collision.

Build quality and fit-finish, though a significant improvement over the first-gen car, still isn’t great. Plastics are of a better quality but aren’t in the league of the VW Ameo or the Hyundai Xcent. We were surprised when the glovebox popped open every time the car went hard over a sharp pothole. Another area where the Amaze needs a significant improvement is cabin insulation; it doesn’t stop ambient sounds from entering the cabin as nicely as its rivals. Also, a lot of wind noise is quite audible at speeds after 80kph.

Honda Amaze AC
Air con performs very effectively due to the new, larger compressor.

To improve its effectiveness, Honda has added a much larger air con compressor, and we’re happy to report that this unit is quite a chiller. Yes, the Amaze still doesn’t get rear air con vents but their presence isn’t missed, as the high-positioned dashboard-centre vents channel air effectively to the back.

Boot space is the largest in the segment at 420 litres, bettering the older car’s by 20 litres and the Dzire’s by 42 litres. The wheel wells protrude a bit into the usable luggage space, but it is still adequately large enough for the family’s weekend luggage.

Honda has delegated the familiar 1,199cc, four-cylinder petrol engine and a 1,498cc four-cylinder diesel engine to power the Amaze. While the petrol unit makes 90hp and 110Nm of torque in both, the five-speed manual and the CVT, the diesel makes 100hp and 200Nm of torque with the five-speed manual, but a slightly lower 80hp and 160Nm of torque with the CVT. This time around, Honda claims to have improved overall sound insulation and has redesigned the engine block, used a different head cover material and optimised the engine mounts, all in the interest of keeping a check on the noise and vibration levels inside the cabin. While the petrol engine remains extremely refined at idle, the diesel is noticeably quieter and more refined than before. It’s only when the motor is revved harder does it get vocal; but even then, it’s more of a drone than a diesel clatter that can be heard inside the cabin. It isn’t all good news, though, as vibrations are still felt on the pedals and steering of the diesel Amaze.

Honda Amaze corner
Drive it hard around a corner and it will understeer. Body roll due to the soft suspension is substantial too.

In terms of its characteristic, the diesel engine remains unchanged. It’s responsive from the word go, and, being a big engine in a light car, it feels effortless in the way it performs. Turbo lag is negligible and those who drive in higher gears at low engine speeds will love the unit’s linear yet effortless nature. Spin it past 2,000rpm and it pulls ahead with a sense of urgency. The wave of torque continues all the way until 4,300rpm, after which power cuts off abruptly. This engine maxes out at 142kph (like before) and feels as though it has hit a wall – like the engine has been restricted even though it feels capable to go faster. 0-100kph is a significant 2sec quicker than the outgoing version, and even in-gear times are much faster. It’s worth noting that the gear ratios haven’t been changed, so the credit for this improved performance goes to the engine tuning and the kerb weight, which has reduced by 52kg. The clutch travel, however, is a bit long. The pedal is eager to spring back up when depressed and the release point is high. The five-speed manual has short throws and slots into the gates smoothly, although, not as smooth as some of its rivals.

The diesel with the CVT makes 20 percent less power compared to the manual and Honda says that this was done to prevent belt slippage and preserve the life of the transmission. For regular city driving, the CVT is just so convenient and paired so well to the engine that the power deficit isn’t noticeable. There’s always power available on tap, it shifts ratios extremely smoothly and is fantastic in the way it operates. It isn’t jerky in its operation like an AMT and neither does it get confused at lower speeds. Mash the throttle hard and the CVT instantly reacts by holding revs at 3,700rpm as the car builds speed. Acceleration is just 0.8sec slower than the manual and top speed is locked at 143kph.

Honda Amaze paddleshifter
Petrol-CVT gets paddleshifters which are useful for engine braking.

The petrol engine is very refined in the way it does the job. It delivers a satisfactory performance in the city. There are prominent tugs in power beyond 2,000rpm and 3,500rpm, and this engine feels most energetic beyond 5,000rpm, spinning all the way until 6,700rpm. Those who love driving will love to rev it hard, but most users will find the performance at mid revs to be weak. Honda has tweaked the gear ratios of the petrol-manual which now gets a taller final drive but shorter first, second and third gears (for better acceleration). The fourth gear is significantly taller and this is noticeable while trying to overtake traffic at highway speeds. 40-100kph in fourth gear takes an agonising 25.26sec. If the momentum breaks on the highway, the petrol warrants a downshift to build speed again. Overall acceleration timings are almost identical to the older car, but the top speed is now 146kph. Like the diesel, the clutch travel is a bit long and its springy characteristic demands a conscious effort to drive smoothly.

Honda Amaze push button start
Pulsating engine start/stop buttons is a very sporty touch.

The CVT paired to the petrol does a far better job than the manual in delivering the power. The spikes in power delivery are masked well and this extracts the best performance from the engine. It is keen to upshift and keeps the engine revs low in the city. Put your foot down, and it’ll hold revs at 6,000rpm, as the speedo needle climbs rapidly. There’s also a Sport mode on offer that keeps the car in a lower ratio, thus keeping the engine on the boil. Acceleration is significantly quicker, with the CVT managing 0-100kph 2.5sec quicker than the first-gen Amaze with a five-speed torque converter. The paddleshifters are nice to use and react well to inputs; these are particularly useful when there’s a need for engine braking or for a more involving feel.

The Amaze is softly sprung and the travel range of the suspension is quite long. While this results in good bump absorption over broken roads, it crashes over sharper ones. Although ground clearance is rated at 170mm, with a full load of passengers, the rear suspension compresses quite a bit (just like the old Civic), so the car is susceptible to scraping its underbelly over speed breakers. At higher speeds, the Amaze bobs a bit more than usual over expansion joints and vertical movements over wavy surfaces are noticeable.

Honda Amaze side action
Ride over bad roads is absorbent, but it tends to crash over sharp potholes.

Its steering has some weight to it, more in the diesel than the petrol, and while it remains consistent, it isn’t very precise. The turn-in isn’t sharp like its rivals and it doesn’t feel agile or willing to change direction quickly. Understeer (or the car’s tendency to continue in a straight line despite turning the steering) is noticed a fair bit when driven briskly. Body roll is on the higher side, again as a result of the softer suspension set-up. What’s nice though are the brakes that offer great feedback and inspire confidence while shedding speed.

Efficiency is where the diesel Amaze really impresses. While the older-generation car returned 15.2kpl and 20.8kpl, the new one with the five-speed manual returned 17.87kpl and 21.47kpl in the city and highway, respectively; that’s a 9 percent improvement. Even the smooth diesel-CVT returns a respectable 14.8kpl in city driving conditions and 18.9kpl on the highway.

Honda Amaze instrument
Fonts are large and easy to read. MID is a bit cluttered.

What really surprised us, however, is that both, the petrol-manual and CVT returned a near- identical average figure of 13.31kpl, which is, in fact, lower than the older car’s 14.75kpl ( manual) and 13.8kpl (auto), despite being lighter. The fuel tank capacity remains 35 litres, so the effective range of the petrol versions has gone down.

The top VX variants get a 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. While the interface is easy to use, it feels fiddly to operate and the software is a bit slow to respond. The physical buttons placed beside the screen feel small and cheap. Notably, you can’t pair your phone via Bluetooth on the move in this variant, however, in the lower S and V variants (without a touchscreen), you can.

Honda Amaze infotainment
The top-spec VX gets this infotainment system, while S and V (lower) variants get a basic 2-DIN audio system with Bluetooth.

Honda has equipped the top VX variant of the Amaze with all the features that we’ve come to expect from a car at this price, like the 15-inch alloys, shark-fin antenna, keyless entry, start/stop button, electric folding mirrors, 7.0-inch touchscreen, reverse camera, climate control and cruise control. Safety kit like ABS with EBD, dual front airbags, Isofix child seat mounts and parking sensors are standard across the range. 

Honda Amaze cruise control
Cruise control is available only in the top-spec VX manuals.

The CVTs, however, are available only in the lower S and V variants, which also get a 2-din audio system with Bluetooth instead of the touchscreen. The petrol-auto gets segment-first paddleshifters as well. The Amaze still misses out on some features that its competitors get, like projector LED headlamps, daytime running lamps, rear air con vents, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, driver armrest and a cooled glovebox.

The new Amaze is a huge step-up over the first-gen, be it in terms of size, comfort or premium feel. The interiors appear more upmarket, the seats more comfortable, and the equipment list almost matches that of its rivals. For those who are chauffeur-driven, the backseat is still the most comfortable place to be in (in its segment), but the absence of adjustable rear neck restraints and the tight headroom are disappointing. While the petrol engine is smooth and offers a satisfactory performance, it is the diesel that truly impresses when it comes to overall performance. The CVT paired with the diesel is outstanding; you get a respectable performance and the convenience of the smoothest-shifting automatic in that segment. It’s unfortunate that those looking for a CVT (with either engine) will miss a factory-fitted touchscreen and cruise control as it isn’t available in the top variant.

Where the Amaze falls short is with its sub-par cabin insulation and mediocre high-speed dynamics. However, despite these shortcomings, the new-gen Amaze is neatly packaged and as a city car, it is as good as it gets. And the diesel-CVT, an industry first, is certainly a feather in its cap.

 

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 7.68 lakh Rs 8.10 lakh Rs 8.78 lakh Rs 9.10 lakh -
Warranty 3 years/unlimited km 3 years/unlimited km 3 years/unlimited km 3 years/unlimited km -
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Fuel Type / Propulsion Petrol Petrol Diesel Diesel -
Engine Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse -
Type 4 cyl, naturally aspirated 4 cyl, naturally aspirated 4 cyl, turbo-diesel 4 cyl, turbo-diesel -
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1199cc 1199cc 1498cc 1498cc -
Bore/Stroke (mm) 73.0/71.6mm 73.0/71.6mm 76.0/82.5mm 76.0/82.5mm -
Compression Ratio 10.1:1 10.1:1 16.0:1 16.0:1 -
Valve Train 4 valves per cyl, SOHC 4 valves per cyl, SOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC -
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 90hp at 6000rpm 90hp at 6000rpm 100hp at 3600rpm 80hp at 3600rpm -
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 110Nm at 4800rpm 110Nm at 4800rpm 200Nm at 1750rpm 160Nm at 1750rpm -
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 97.40hp per tonne 95.23hp per tonne 97.75hp per tonne 76.99hp per tonne -
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 119.04Nm per tonne 116.40Nm per tonne` 195.50Nm per tonne 153.99Nm per tonne -
Specific Output (hp/litre) 75.06hp per litre 75.06hp per litre 66.75hp per litre 53.40hp per litre -
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Drive Layout Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive -
Gearbox Type Manual CVT Manual CVT -
No of Gears 5 5 -
1st Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 3.308/7.282 3.643/8.564 -
2nd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.750/13.76 1.885/16.55 -
3rd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.171/20.57 1.179/26.46 -
4th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.854/28.20 0.870/35.86 -
5th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.727/33.13 0.706/44.19 -
Final Drive Ratio 4.625:1 3.571:1 -
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 26.43m, 2.59s 26.43m, 2.59s 26.43m, 2.59s 26.43m, 2.59s -
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
City (kpl) 10.94kpl 10.96kpl 17.87kpl 14.80kpl -
Highway (kpl) 15.69kpl 15.67kpl 21.47kpl 18.90kpl -
Tank size (lts) 35 litres 35 litres 35 litres 35 litres -
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.60s 0.72s 0.73s 0.59s -
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.26s 1.76s 1.67s 1.28s -
0 - 30 kph (sec) 2.09s 2.96s 2.32s 2.01s -
0 - 40 kph (sec) 3.05s 4.24s 3.21s 2.89s -
0 - 50 kph (sec) 4.04s 5.45s 4.19s 3.82s -
0 - 60 kph (sec) 5.60s 6.76s 5.07s 4.94s -
0 - 70 kph (sec) 7.13s 8.12s 6.50s 6.26s -
0 - 80 kph (sec) 8.71s 9.72s 7.95s 7.80s -
0 - 90 kph (sec) 10.67s 11.61s 9.38s 9.58s -
0 - 100 kph (sec) 13.29s 13.85s 10.92s 11.75s -
0 - 110 kph (sec) 16.01s 16.50s 14.57s 14.31s -
0 - 120 kph (sec) 18.93s 19.75s 16.80s 17.24s -
0 - 130 kph (sec) 22.16s 23.91s 19.23s 20.90s -
0 - 140 kph (sec) 28.13s 29.48s 23.29s 25.37s -
1/4 mile (sec) 19.08s 19.99s 18.49s 18.45s -
20-80kph (sec) 15.01s 9.42s 11.07s 6.12s -
40-100kph (sec) 25.26s 11.64s 13.20s 9.06s -
MAX SPEED IN GEAR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
1st (kph @rpm) 48kph at 6700rpm 37kph at 4300rpm -
2nd (kph @rpm) 91kph at 6700rpm 71kph at 4300rpm -
3rd (kph @rpm) 137kph at 6700rpm 110kph at 4200rpm -
4th (kph @rpm) 145kph at 5200rpm 142kph at 4000rpm -
5th (kph @rpm) 146kph at 4400rpm 142kph at 3300rpm -
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Idle (dB) 38.1dB 39.5dB 47.1dB 46.7dB -
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 53.5dB 52.3dB 54.5dB 52.6dB -
Full Revs, AC off (dB) 72.5dB 65.7dB 72.2dB 71.1dB -
50 kph AC off (dB) 61.6dB 62.6dB 63.2dB 65.4dB -
80 kph AC off (dB) 64.8dB 65.2dB 65.7dB 67.2dB -
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Construction Four-door sedan, monocoque Four-door sedan, monocoque Four-door sedan, monocoque Four-door sedan, monocoque -
Weight (kg) 924kg 945kg 1023kg 1039kg -
Front Tyre 175/65 R15 175/65 R15 175/65 R15 175/65 R15 -
Rear Tyre 175/65 R15 175/65 R15 175/65 R15 175/65 R15 -
Spare Tyre 175/65 R14 175/65 R14 175/65 R14 175/65 R14 -
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs -
Rear Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs -
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion -
Type of power assist Electric Electric Electric Electric -
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 9.4m 9.4m 9.8m 9.8m -
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Discs Discs Discs Discs -
Rear Drums Drums Drums Drums -
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Length 3995mm 3995mm 3995mm 3995mm -
Width (mm) 1695mm 1695mm 1695mm 1695mm -
Height 1501mm 1501mm 1501mm 1501mm -
Wheel base 2470mm 2470mm 2470mm 2470mm -
Front Track (mm) 1493mm 1493mm 1493mm 1493mm -
Rear Track (mm) 1488mm 1488mm 1488mm 1488mm -
Rear Interior Width (mm) 1300mm 1300mm 1300mm 1300mm -
Ground Clearance (mm) 170mm 170mm 170mm 170mm -
Boot Capacity (Lts) 420 litres 420 litres 420 litres 420 litres -
2018 Honda Amaze review, road test
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