Honda takes on Suzuki Dzire with bigger, better Amaze
IN a world which sees highriding sport utility vehicles (SUVs) outselling traditional, low-slung sedans, Honda still sees a market for its Amaze, a 900-kg car with a boot that the Japanese automaker said was designed from the ground up to define a new standard.
As with all facelifts, the new Amaze is larger in every dimension, but the company’s bullet-proof i-VTEC engine delivers unchanged fuel efficiency when driven with a light right foot.
It is exactly the Honda’s reputation for reliability and frugal fuel use that attract two of the most demanding car buyers — retirees and rental car agencies.
Those who rent the Amaze or borrow it from the grandparents are, well, amazed when they discover that unlike all top-heavy SUVs that have “almost car-like handling” the Amaze is a car, and therefore comes with a car’s handling built into its DNA.
Jekyll and Hyde-the-fines
Honda’s proven 1 199 cc iVTEC engine drives all three Amaze models, but we will not be getting the diesel that also powers the Amaze in India.
Think of it as Jekyll and Hyde unit. At low revolutions, you will be all like “ja well, no fine”. But push the go-faster pedal to 6 000 revs to reach the maximum power output of 66 kW, and you will have to Hyde the ensuring speeding fines from your grandma.
Note, with a relatively slow 0-100 km/h time of 12,3 seconds in the manual and a positively glacial 13,5 seconds with the CVT, the Amaze will not win any quarter mile races.
Drivers who can do corners will find Honda’s suspension engineers know a thing or two about handling.
In keeping with all budget cars, the Amaze is set up to deliver a soft ride on struts up front and torsion bar at the rear.
This means it will understeer into corners, but keep the revs up going in and it will also reward braver drivers with a smidgeon of lift-off oversteer.
But only try this on smooth tracks. For our potholed public roads, both models ride on 15-inch tyres with sidewalls that are a sensible 113 mm high.
Thanks to that kerb mass of just over 900 kg and short gear ratios, the Amaze also feels swift between the lights, and it just sips fuel at cruising speeds — Honda said one can expect over 17 km from each litre on average. When sitting in traffic, a decent torque of 110 Nm at 4 800 rpm allows moving about in third gear.
Two spec levels
The new Amaze comes in two equipment levels — Trend and Comfort, with a choice of either a five-speed manual or constantly variable transmission (CVT). Both models have all the usual active and standard safety features.
Toshiaki Kusakari, head of Automobiles at Honda Motor Southern Africa, said he expects the car to appeal to a broad and varied motoring audience, ranging from young singles and start-up families to mature motorists.
“All will be attracted by the Amaze’s value-added purchase price, excellent fuel efficiency and low operating cost.
“In addition, the new Amaze is exceptionally roomy and offers a generous luggage compartment, while Honda’s revered reputation for reliability and good resale value will also add to the Amaze’s attraction,” Kusakari-san said.
In keeping with the demands of more conservative buyers, the Amaze has cloth upholstery. It also still has piano black detailing. Car makers say this adds a sophisticated ambience, but in reality, shiny surfaces show dust motes.
The boot capacity is an impressive 420 litres for all those renting the Amaze on holiday.
For grandparents who drive sticky grandkids around, genuine Honda synthetic leather seat covers can be had as a nocost option. We recommend this, as the fold-down rear seat armrest also incorporates cup holders for rear occupants, who are sure to spill the contents at some point.
The sound system plays MP3 files via Bluetooth, which also allows hands-free calls once the phone is linked. The four-speaker system also provides USB connectivity and an AUX socket.
The range is supported by a full five-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a two-year/30 000 km service plan, and three-years roadside assistance.
The Amaze competes head on with the Suzuki Dzire, which starts at R161 900.
Trend: R179 900 Comfort: R193 900 Comfort CVT: R208 900