Compact SUVs are all the rage at the moment but just below that segment, some buyers still prefer the charms of a compact sedan. Unlike compact crossovers, compact sedans are easier to drive, more fuel efficient and won’t break the bank in terms of buying costs. The Honda Amaze and Ford Aspire remain two of the protagonists in this segment. Both come with plenty of kit, a petrol and a diesel engine option each and similar sub-4-metre length.
For this face-off, we’ve decided to pick the diesel version of both cars. Both cars come with 1.5-litre diesel units making similar 99bhp of power. But which one offers the best of all worlds for you. Read on to decide.
This is the second generation of the Amaze. The last gen-car was based on the Brio hatchback but the new one is an all new design. Gone is the earlier cars rounded cute looks, replaced by a square face. Honda designers have decided to give it the family look, with a flat chrome grille, which overwhelms everything else on the face. The car looks like a miniature City from a distance, which is a good thing. The back of the Amaze also has a boxy shape and this helps it reveal as massive boot. With 420-litres on offer, the Amaze’s boot is the biggest in its segment and can rival many a full sized sedan. The Amaze looks wider than the Aspire and also seems to be a more cohesive design.
The Aspire on the other end, received a major facelift late last year. The car gets a heavily sculpted bumper as well. The grille too gets a heavy dose of chrome on it to make it look premium. View it from side on though, the short and stubby boot, doesn’t give it a very balanced look. The boot at 359-litres is also smaller than the Amaze’s boot. Also, unlike the Amaze, which can be opened via a button from the outside, the Aspire’s boot can only be opened with a key from the exterior. A bit of an oddity.
Both cars follow the tried-and-tested formula of using black and beige combination for the interiors. Black for the centre console and dashboard while beige is used extensively for seat fabrics and upholstery.
Buyers will appreciate the solid ‘thud’ sound that emanates from the doors when you shut the doors on the Aspire. This gives the car a sense of confidence and safety. Buyers will also appreciate the brilliant touch screen system on the car. It is by far the best system on offer in this segment. The menus, sub-menus are all clearly marked on this system and it works like a dream. The silky smooth operation and quick responses of this system are the best in class, as is the high resolution display.
The Aspire comes with automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, climate control as well as the option of six airbags in the top version. The seat comfort on the car is decent and there is decent space in the back seats as well. However, buyers will miss rear AC vents, a feature that most rivals offer.
The Amaze doesn’t offers similar levels of equipment as the Aspire, however, it does offer dual airbags, ABS as well as automatic climate control on its range. You also get rear AC vents on the Amaze. But the Amaze offers the better rear seat experience. The cabin feels wider and the seat squab also offers a longer bench, which means that lanky legs will be comfortable here. The backrest angle of the rear seats is better as well.
Engine, gearbox and performance
Both cars come with 1.5-litre diesel units making similar levels of power. While the Aspire comes with a manual, the Amaze offers an automatic as well, making its range more flexible. Talking about flexibility, it is the TDCi diesel on the Ford that you will like more to push. The engine feels lively from a relatively low, 1,500-1,600rpm, which makes it feel like a petrol to drive. Rev it hard and it remains largely muted. The manual gearbox is a slick unit, offering short crisp throws as well.
The Amaze on the other end doesn’t have the same flexibility. The engine starts to respond only from around 2,000rpm. The Amaze’s engine though offers more fuel efficiency. Honda claims 25.8kpl for the car while Ford claims 24kpl. The gearbox on the Amaze is nice and easy to operate as well. The Amaze also offers an automatic version.
Ride and handling
The Amaze will impress you at slower city speeds with its soft suspension set-up. The car simply absorbs most surfaces without any fuss. The Aspire on the other end has a stiff setup. Though this makes it brilliant for highway use, inside the city the Aspire can let some of the larger potholes enter the cabin.
Keener drivers will appreciate the sharp and responsive steering on the Aspire which makes every drive a treat. The Amaze has a light steering, that doesn’t offer too much feel. The Aspire also has better body controls, especially when pushed into corners. Clearly, the Asire is aimed at the keen driver, while the Amaze is meant for people who want a no nonsense experience. The Aspire feels better planted at faster speeds, annihilating most badly patched-up roads.
If you call yourself a keen driver go for the Aspire. It also offers six airbags as an extra along with solid build quality. That said, the Amaze, with its lighter controls, better cabin and boot space and the flexibility of the automatic version comes across as a well rounded package too. So its between choosing your heart and your head.