Do the new updates manage to keep the Amaze trendy and youthful enough?
You can never be sure about the trends in the automobile industry. At a certain point in time, sub 4-metre compact sedans were selling like hot cakes. They were followed by sub 4-metre SUVs and this new segment is now the flavour of the season. Every carmaker is vying for a slice of the compact SUV pie except for Honda. The WR-V marks their presence in the segment although Honda still seems to be banking on sedans; it’s popular compact sedan — the Amaze — to be specific. Probably that’s why Honda has now given it a facelift to keep it relevant during the SUV times. This is the first major update since the new Amaze was launched in 2018. The updates are very subtle although they should allow the Amaze to catch the fancy of its target audience. Has Honda done enough to retain the Amaze’s youthfulness and more importantly, bring in more sales?
Boxy is cool!
At least that's what Honda thinks. The boxy styling has been retained and it now gets sharp design elements. A quick walk to the front of the car reveals a larger, more pronounced grille and refreshed bumpers with integrated chrome elements. The headlamp features revised internals and gets LED projectors. Even fog lamps feature LED lighting.
At the rear, the tail lamp gets C-shaped LED lighting. As an added safety measure, the rear bumpers now get integrated reflectors as well. We Indians love chrome and Honda seems to have clearly taken note. There are generous servings of chrome at the front and back and the door handles as well. The fresh 15-inch machine-cut alloy wheels add to the bling factor. Overall, these changes have clearly added a dash of premiumness to the overall design.
Like the exteriors, the cabin gets a minor update as well. The new silver accents on the dashboard and door pads offer an upmarket feel. Even the gear lever on the manual variants has been given a leather treatment. The rest of the two-tone black and beige cabin with the beige fabric seats offers a lively ambience. There is lots of space for both the front and rear passengers and the seats offer good comfort. The plastic quality and also the fit and finish levels are impressive; typical of what you'd expect from a Japanese car.
Features include a 7-inch touchscreen instrument console running Honda's Digipad 2.0 infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While the instrument console layout feels dated, it surprises with its fluid and responsive touchscreen experience. The 4-speaker setup offers decent sound quality. That said, we feel that the cabin insulation could have been better given the amount of external ambient, engine and tyre noise that filters in. Another cool touch is the new reversing camera that offers three viewing angles and in higher resolution as well. While the cabin is a cheerful place to be, when you factor in the competition, the interiors seem outdated for sure.
We didn't get a chance to drive the 1.2-litre petrol variants but could spend a few hours behind the wheel of both the manual and CVT auto diesel cars. The diesel is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit that in the manual variant delivers 100PS and 200Nm. It is a quick-revving motor that offers a good amount of shove 1,700rpm onwards and all the way to the 4,000rpm redline. The motor impresses with its tractability, part-throttle response and grunt which makes for quick getaways in the city and quicker overtakes on the highways. The 5-speed gearbox impresses with its short throws and slick shifts. The clutch is fine too and is not as heavy as some of its competitors. If you are looking for performance, this is the package to go for.
If you are looking for convenience, the CVT powertrain should do just fine. However, the CVT can handle a limited amount of power — 80PS and 160Nm. That said, the CVT makes good use of the engine's torque in the city. It is a responsive unit and all it takes is a bit more pressure on the accelerator pedal to overtake that pesky rickshaw. Out on the highway, you'd be better off shifting to sport mode which holds gears right upto the redline. This allows you to make full use of the engine's performance at highway speeds. The shifts are fairly quick, seamless and intuitive.
Another area where the Amaze amazes is its plush ride quality. The sedan simply glides over broken sections without letting the occupants know. Even if you end up driving over a large pothole at speed or end up missing that unmarked speed breaker, the Amaze takes it in its stride. The fantastic ride comes with a few compromises in terms of handling though.
The Amaze feels a tad floaty at high speeds and exhibits mild body roll in corners. It does hold its line well though thanks to the MRF tyres. The steering is slightly on the heavier side and feels vague at the dead centre. The ground clearance is impressive too and never does the Amaze scrape its underbody. Gaurav's obsession with good photos means we took it over a slightly elevated platform which it cleared with no worries. The brakes too could have done with more initial bite. It does not disappoint when it comes to the stopping power though.
The Honda Amaze's rival, the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire is the best selling car in the country and sells in good numbers despite the influx of compact SUVs. This means that consumers still have a soft spot for compact sedans so there is still hope for the Amaze. Prices for the Amaze start at Rs 6.32 lakh and go all the way up to Rs 11.15 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). While the 2021 updates are minor, they simply add to the fantastic package that exudes practicality. The Amaze impresses with its quality levels, a punchy diesel motor, gearbox options and above all, the plush ride quality. That said, the design has begun to feel dated in the face of the updated competition. However, if you want an urban family car and can overlook the, erm, looks, the Amaze diesel CVT definitely ticks all the right boxes.