Honda Launched A New-Gen Amaze with a Diesel CVT Automatic Variantby Opinion Express June 1, 2018 0 comments
Honda surprises everyone when they introduced the second generation of Amaze at the Auto Expo. The automaker has added the surprise by launching the new gen model with a diesel powered CVT automatic variant.
This review is a bit late to the Honda Amaze party but I missed the initial media drive of the car last month. However, Honda Cars India were kind enough to send me the second-generation Amaze for a week. As Honda wanted to promote the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic on the diesel, that is what I was driving. I’m often accused on only concentrating on fast, powerful and expensive vehicles, so I just wanted to point out that, as tested, the Honda Amaze iDTEC CVT I drove from this write-up, which was the ‘V’ specification, has an initial ex-showroom price of Rs 8.99 lakh.
I would also like to do this review a bit differently than others because I spent more time than most other auto journalists have so far spent with the Amaze, driving over 525 km over seven days. Most reviews that we write as reviewers, whether it is a car or a phone, usually laud the product and then have a “but” before the second-to-last para pointing out the deficiencies in said product. Here, I’ll talk of the biggest pain point of the Amaze upfront.
The biggest issue I have with the Amaze is the same problem I had with the BR-V, the cabin is a horribly dark place inside at night. No pilot lights inside the cabin, there is no cabin light in front, there is no backlighting on the steering controls, power-window switches and outside mirror adjustments and crucially no backlighting on the gear shifter. Sure you can see which gear you are in by looking at the instrument cluster, but you do tend to look down while shifting in an automatic. And at night, in the dark, this is a pain. Coupled with the dark, two-line infotainment system, I find this irritating. It is also not a major engineering fix, we do live in an era of LEDs after all, and I sincerely hope Honda takes this into consideration going forward. By the way, these are the sorts of things you discover at night. Most media drives happen in the day because, you know, videography and photography.
I’m not saying that the rest of the Amaze is perfect, the front-end looks a bit funny in my opinion, but the success of cars like the Hyundai Santro and Maruti Wagon R prove that most of my countrymen who buy cars do not take looks as a critical factor. And that is about it. The Amaze CVT diesel is a surprisingly nice urban car and while Honda has detuned the diesel engine in both power and torque so that the CVT can handle it, you do not really notice the loss of power inside the city. The 1.5 litre i DTEC diesel now produces 80 horsepower and 160 Nm of torque, but the way Honda engineers have integrated the CVT is fabulous.
On most CVT cars, the engine and the transmission can struggle to find the correct amount of power, especially when you gun the accelerator. This leads to what we would call the “rubber-band” effect and you notice that on the rev-counter going up and down. Not so in the Amaze, when you need power, the “kickdown” is smooth, it might be a CVT but behaves more like a traditional automatic. Of course, the detuning does have a negative impact, the car is most comfortable and economical at speeds of 60-80 km per hour. However, I took this car for a spin on the new Eastern Peripheral Expressway outside Delhi and to be very honest while it cruised comfortably at the new speed limit of 120 km per hour, I kept noticing the fuel economy, and it was clear that the car would be far more economical at slower speeds. Also, the lack of power is actually noticeable on that Expressway, and while Amaze is perfect for older highways with limits with 90-100 km per hour, I genuinely think it could have done with the 20 lost horsepower.
Now, to the credit of the Amaze, despite the high-speed driving and a lot of in-city driving, and all of that when the temperature outside was an incredible 43-45C in the middle of the day — which is when I drove down the EPE so the air-conditioner was on full-blast throughout, I got 16.9 km to a litre of diesel. In real-world conditions. Sure, in these times of crazy fuel prices I was driving in economy-mode inside the city with soft acceleration and letting the car bleed speed rather than hard braking, but still very impressive.
The Amaze enters a highly competitive segment. Actually, no. It enters a segment with one car lords over everything else. A segment that belongs to the Maruti-Suzuki Dzire. Honda has not made the Amaze CVT available in the top “VX” specification with a touchscreen infotainment system and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. So, the Amaze CVT should be compared to the Dzire ZDI and not the ZDI+ with the AMT gearbox. The Dzire is about half a lakh cheaper ex-showroom compared to the Amaze. That said, the CVT gearbox is superior to the AMT and its implementation and the fuel economy of the Amaze is better than the Dzire. I would like Honda to bring an Amaze CVT in the “VX” specification though. When people pay so much money, they want all the features and that’s another miss by the Japanese carmaker in my opinion. The price difference will, however, keep the Dzire at the top of the sales heap, although I do believe the Amaze will gnaw into sales. This is an impressive car and an early contender for the annual awards later this year.
Writer: Kushan Mitra
Courtesy: The Pioneer