What is it?
Since its launch in 2013, Honda's Amaze has had a pretty successful run. However, in a segment as important and competitive as that for compact sedans, frequent updates to keep customer interest alive is the name of the game. What you see here is the refreshed Amaze. It's identifiable by its bolder styling, particularly so at the front-end. The petite smiling grille has been ditched in favour of a chrome-heavy one that now extends from headlight to headlight. Below this bold new grille sits a large, all-new bumper which features a revised air dam and large faux air intakes with fog lights in them. The side profile of the car remains unchanged though the re-profiled tail-lights do give this up as the new Amaze.
What's it like inside?
Honda had received a lot of negative feedback on the original Amaze's Spartan dashboard and it's good to know the Japanese manufacturer has made amends. The Amaze receives a new dash that's similar to the Jazz's in layout and design. However, the centre console is all-new and is user-friendly in how it houses the audio system high up. Existing Amaze owners will also notice the addition of automatic climate control. Interestingly, the Amaze doesn't get the touchscreen-type control for the air-con system as in the City and Jazz. The Amaze uses a more conventional arrangement and to be honest, it's nice and straightforward to use. Honda has also changed the instruments and what you get now is a more informative cluster.
Elsewhere, though the steering wheel, gear lever and window switches are unchanged, there's been an overall improvement in functionality – the buttons are intuitive to touch and two additional cubby holes make more space for knick knacks.
The equipment and feature list has been expanded too. You now get Bluetooth connectivity, along with the option of the Honda Connect package. ABS is standard across all variants (except the base petrol) and airbags are standard on all but the base models (entry-level E and S trims get airbags as an option).
The cabin is as spacious as before with ample legroom for the rear passengers. The thin seats from the earlier Amaze have been retained and though they look flimsy, they continue to offer adequate support and comfort
What's it like to drive?
If you've driven the 1.2 petrol manual or the 1.5 diesel Amaze before, you won't find the driving experience any different here. Honda hasn't altered either engine or gearbox though the diesel version does run notably quieter than before. The version of the Amaze that is different to drive is the petrol automatic one. That's because Honda has dropped the earlier auto's torque converter gearbox and replaced it with a more efficient CVT unit. The gearbox executes shifts in a smooth and seamless manner and what's nice is the rubberband effect, inherent on CVTs, isn't all that pronounced here. The 'box performs well on the highway too – floor the accelerator and it holds the revs at 4000rpm as it starts gaining pace. Fuel economy is a claimed 18.1kpl which is impressive. As for the engine, it's refined as ever, with acceptable levels of engine noise and vibration making its way through to the cabin.
The suspension feels the same as on the earlier car. It's set on the softer side though there's an underlying firmness. At low speeds, the ride quality is best described as amicable. The Amaze is comfortable but doesn't feel as absorbent or settled as the Figo Aspire or Tata's Zest. Handling is light and entertaining but again, not, at class best levels. The steering, though, feels nice and weighted and lends confidence to the driver at high speeds.
Should I buy it?
The Amaze always had a neat design, spacious cabin, a peppy petrol engine and a frugal (if noisy) diesel engine. With the facelift, the Amaze adds more eye-catching styling, a richer interior and a well-suited CVT gearbox to the list of reasons you should be interested in it. While the changes are not far-reaching, they do help enhance the Amaze's overall appeal. Honda has done well to price it competitively too. Prices start at Rs 5.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and top off at Rs 8.20 lakh for the VX (diesel) model. Without bringing the whole bunch of compact sedans together, it's hard to tell where the new Amaze stands. But in isolation, this is the best the Amaze has been.