If there is one thing you can’t blame Honda for, it is resting on its laurels. After feeling the heat in the competitive entry sedan segment, largely due to the arrival of the Tata Zest, Honda was quick to make some key changes to the car. The company has updated the Amaze with a much more refined diesel engine and minor tweaks to the styling inside and out. But will all this be enough to bring back the Amaze onto the car buyer’s radar? Let’s figure that out.
The styling remains largely unchanged in the front. So you get the same bug-eyed head lamps and the chromed grille. The small fog lamps are the same as well. The rear though gets a slightly modified lamp assembly with more detailing on the covers. The chrome bar just above the number plate remains the same as well and that’s largely helps to reduce the flab from the rear. The Amaze remains the most balanced looking car in this competitive segment. Neither does it look short from the rear or ungainly (like most of its rivals). This is easily the most rounded silhouette in this segment.
Move onto the inside and you will notice that Honda have decided to do away with the weird and rather tacky dashboard colour combo from the last model. Gone is the brown and beige from most of the dashboard now. In its place you get a black shade on most of the dashboard, only the glovebox cover is in beige. The front seats have fixed head rests in them an obvious cost saving measure. The seat squab is generous but the back rest could do with better cushioning especially if you are on long journeys. The rear seats are the best in this class for sheer knee room. There is ample place for even taller passengers to be seated here and feel comfortable on the longest journeys. However, unlike the Hyundai Xcent, Honda still won’t give you a rear AC vent even on the top-end versions. But more on that later.
Engine, performance and gearbox
Though the Amaze’s 1.5-litre diesel is the most powerful in this class, Honda was given an earful by loyal customers about the diesel engine being too noisy and raucous even when not being revved too hard. The Honda engineers seem to have used the criticism and made solid changes to the powertrain. The updated diesel engine is noticeably quieter. There is a bit of clatter typical of diesel engines when you start from cold but that settles into a distant chatter as the engine builds up some heat. The most visible difference is in the improved refinement that now comes when you rev the motor, especially at highway speeds.
The petrol motor remains largely unchanged and is still a hoot to drive around town. The Amaze’s light steering, accurate gearbox along with the nimble handling make it an appealing car for town traffic.
Ride and handling
Honda engineers seem to have worked on the suspension slightly as well. The blend between slow speed ride comfort and highway stability is good. The car doesn’t feel light when you exceed speeds of over 100kph (like some rivals). The handling is precise as well, though the overtly light steering could do with more feel, it is a cinch to park the Amaze in a tight parking space.
Safety and equipment
Honda have added a new GPS-based navigation device to the list of equipment on the Amaze. You also get two airbags along with ABS on the top-versions. There is still no automatic climate control or rear AC vents though.
The updates make the Amaze a better rounded car. Even though it is still lacking in some equipment, the diesel engines new found refinement more than makes up for it. It still remains the most powerful diesel in this class. That along with the desirable Honda badge means that the Amaze remains one of the best bets, if not the best, in this segment.