Honda Amaze 1,2 Com­fort vs. Suzuki Dzire 1,2 GL

They may be more about sen­si­ble trans­port than thrills but these light sedans are very much the bread and but­ter of mo­tor­ing

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

ALTHOUGH bud­get sedans are hardly the stuff of petrol­heads’ dreams, they are the Swiss Army knives of the au­to­mo­tive sphere. Their roomi­ness, fru­gal en­gines and wal­let-friendly own­er­ship propo­si­tions make them a great choice for young fam­i­lies and empty nesters alike, as well as the back­bone of com­pany and rental fleets.

We sam­pled the bud­get-sedan de­lights of the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Honda Brio Amaze and Suzuki Swift Dzire in our May 2014 is­sue, where the lat­ter’s more rounded na­ture at a lower price saw it edge its still­ca­pable ri­val.

Four years and some con­sid­er­able in­creases in liv­ing costs later, the all-new it­er­a­tions of these bud­get-sedan sta­ples meet again. Will the Amaze pos­sess the pol­ish to snatch a win from its stand­ing ri­val, or are we about to see his­tory re­peat­ing it­self?

PACK­AG­ING

While at first glance you’d be jus­ti­fied in think­ing what we have here are lit­tle more than cos­met­i­cally up­dated ver­sions of the cars we tested pre­vi­ously, there’s great change afoot un­der the sheet­metal. Yes, the de­sign up­dates are wel­come; the Amaze’s snub­nosed front-end and dis­tinc­tive C-shaped brake­lamps lend it a bit more pres­ence than be­fore, while the Dzire’s tauter, less glob­u­lar, Suzuki Swift-in­spired looks are sim­i­larly re­fresh­ing. What’s more im­por­tant are the frames upon which they’re perched.

Both cars utilise all-new plat­forms which marginally ex­pand their di­men­sions and re­port­edly im­prove tor­sional rigid­ity and safety. Honda rather cryp­ti­cally de­scribes the Amaze’s un­der­pin­nings as “all-new”, giv­ing lit­tle else in the way of ex­pla­na­tion other than the strong like­li­hood a bud­get SUV and other vari­ants will even­tu­ally be spun off that plat­form.

The Dzire utilises a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the Hear­t­ect plat­form serv­ing the Baleno and, as is the case with its larger sta­ble­mate, the up­shot is a spa­cious in­te­rior with a greater amount of head- and rear knee­room than the Amaze.

Where the Honda claws back some ground is in the load-space depart­ment, with a gen­er­ous 376-litre boot ver­sus the Dzire’s 288-litre item, although it must be noted nei­ther car fea­tures split­fold­ing rear seat­backs, so ex­tra kit will have to vie for space with the rear oc­cu­pants.

There’s lit­tle sep­a­rat­ing the two in terms of load­ing height and both boots have use­fully wide aper­tures. Nei­ther, how­ever, has gas/spring as­sis­tance for the open­ing mech­a­nism and un­lock­ing the Amaze’s boot from the out­side en­tails man­u­ally in­sert­ing a key, which seems like a mi­nor over­sight but be­comes irk­some when bur­dened with arm­fuls of shop­ping or kids.

IN­TE­RI­ORS

In both cases, we’re look­ing at sur­faces awash with hard but durable-feel­ing plas­tics which are gen­er­ally well an­chored to the car. We say gen­er­ally, as one of the trim pan­els in the Dzire’s driver footwell did come loose, but that’s about it in terms of fin­ish-qual­ity foibles.

Suzuki has adopted a func­tional de­sign for its fa­cia with darker trim colours be­ing the or­der of the day in an in­of­fen­sive yet ap­peal­ing ar­range­ment. The Amaze’s cabin is more of an ac­quired taste. The fa­cia is just as sim­ple and log­i­cally laid out as the Dzire’s, but the beige-and­black colour scheme, al­lied with a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent trim pati­nas, is bold although also a bit fussy and more likely to show scuffs and other signs of wear than the Dzire’s darker trim.

Find­ing a com­fort­able driv­ing po­si­tion is a tad eas­ier in the Amaze thanks to height ad­just­ment for the driver’s seat but, which­ever car you’re pi­lot­ing, the seat­ing po­si­tions are fairly perched, com­bin­ing with gen­er­ous glasshouses to af­ford the driver good all-round vis­i­bil­ity.

TO DRIVE

There’s been lit­tle to sep­a­rate these cars so far, yet, on the open road, the Dzire be­gins to edge ahead of its ri­val … quite lit­er­ally. As well as free­ing up ad­di­tional in­te­rior space, the new plat­forms on both cars serve to trim down their kerb weights. At 954 kg and 971 kg, re­spec­tively, the pre­vi­ous Amaze and Dzire didn’t ex­actly set the scales creak­ing, but the new cars now sit firmly in fly­weight ter­ri­tory, weigh­ing just 926 kg and 876 kg.

While the Honda’s 66 kw power out­put edges the Suzuki’s 61 kw, its taller gear­ing and leisurely power de­liv­ery means keep­ing up with traf­fic re­quires

good judge­ment and reg­u­lar stir­ring of the ad­mit­tedly snappy gearshift. The Dzire’s lighter weight, close-set mid­dle gear­ing over­seen by a pleas­antly di­rect shifter and a smidgeon more torque ren­ders it nip­pier than its ri­val in al­most ev­ery re­spect. The dis­crep­ancy is par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in-gear, the Suzuki pip­ping the Honda at ev­ery stage. That said, show ei­ther car an up­hill sec­tion or heavy load and the wind is quickly knocked out of their sails.

When as­sess­ing bud­get sedans, han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics sel­dom carry much weight, yet these two are neat coun­ters to one an­other. Although their light kerb weights mean strong cross­winds set both cars weav­ing, it’s the lighter Dzire that feels the ef­fects more acutely. With its pro­gres­sive steer­ing and ex­tra mass, the Amaze seems the marginally more planted car on the mo­tor­way but the drone from the en­gine as it stretches to stay in the up­per reaches of the na­tional speed limit can tire.

In keep­ing with its nip­pier per­for­mance, the Dzire’s pleas­antly weighted steer­ing and good body con­trol make it the wield­ier car,

It’s in­cred­i­bly close but the Honda’s price pre­mium is its un­do­ing here Gareth Dean Dzire is per­fect for pri­vate buy­ers; big-booted Amaze will de­light fleet own­ers Ter­ence Steenkamp Value-led, funto-drive Dzire trumps the more up­mar­ket Amaze Ni­col Louw Both of­fer im­pres­sive value in an unglam­orous seg­ment Ian Mclaren

and its more con­sid­ered gear­ing and bet­ter me­chan­i­cal re ne­ment ren­der it rea­son­ably civilised at speed, although it does seem to gen­er­ate a bit more wind noise around the A-pil­lar. Thanks to gen­er­ous ground clear­ance and soft spring­ing, both cars ride road scars with aplomb but, when travers­ing large speed bumps, it’s the Honda’s rear sus­pen­sion ex­hibit­ing the greater de­gree of re­bound.

TO OWN

Peel­ing back the wrap­ping on ei­ther car, you’ll not be con­fronted with a net­work of plumb­ing for tur­bos or di­rect in­jec­tion, nor will there be a nest of wires at­tached to an ar­ray of com­plex and po­ten­tially costly-to-re­pair elec­tron­ics. The man­u­fac­tur­ers have built both cars with the un­for­giv­ing mo­tor­ing con­di­tions of the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent in mind and have a good track record in pro­duc­ing ro­bust prod­ucts.

Even if you do have to delve into the parts bin, nei­ther will break the bank. Both are cov­ered by two-year/30 000 km ser­vice plans with 15 000 km in­ter­vals and a me­chan­i­cal war­ranty span­ning ve years/200 000 km.

Their stan­dard speci cation lists are sim­i­lar and fairly spar­tan, with al­loy wheels and au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol in the Amaze’s favour.

It’s level peg­ging on the safe­tyfea­tures front as well, with dual front airbags and rear Iso x an­chor­age points as stan­dard. ABS with EBD and brake as­sist fea­tures on both cars, but the Honda’s sys­tem proved the more ef­fec­tive of the two in our 10stop 100-0 km/h tests.

Nei­ther car will drink you out of house and home, with the Amaze sip­ping 5,5 L/100 km on our fuel run and the Dzire 5,6, equat­ing to es­ti­mated tank ranges of 520 km and 629 km, re­spec­tively.

TEST SUM­MARY

In terms of their gen­eral func­tion­al­ity, there’s noth­ing to sep­a­rate these two. Both cars rep­re­sent a marked im­prove­ment over their pre­de­ces­sors and con­tinue to meet the pro­vi­sos of spa­cious, fru­gal and no-non­sense mo­tor­ing.

But, as it was back in 2014, the Honda’s price pre­mium is a catch­ing point. In most cases, R15 000 shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but when it rep­re­sents a sub­stan­tial price gap to the Dzire’s to­tal value at this end of the mar­ket, with lit­tle more in the way of ex­tra equip­ment to show for it, the Amaze’s ap­peal be­gins to wane. Bet­ter boot space and marginally more planted mo­tor­way man­ners may be in the Honda’s favour but, when it comes to the sum of most con­sid­er­a­tions, the Dzire is the more rounded propo­si­tion. That, com­bined with more com­pet­i­tive pric­ing, gives it the nar­row win here.

clock­wise from above Honda’s fa­cia is solidly put to­gether but the two-tone trim (these seat cov­ers are a no-cost op­tion) di­vides opin­ion; it has marginally less legroom than the Dzire, although is still fairly spa­cious; boot is gen­er­ous but re­quires man­ual un­lock­ing; pow­er­plant is fru­gal; snub-nosed pro­file lend Amaze a more ma­ture air.

clock­wise from above Suzuki’s cabin is monochro­matic but neat and log­i­cally laid out; 710 mm of rear legroom on of­fer but the boot is smaller than the Amaze’s; with closer gear­ing and even less weight to shift, the Suzuki’s revvy en­gine feels more ex­i­ble than the Honda’s; the Dzire wears the new Swift’s nose.

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