Driven: Honda Amaze
Sriram Narayanan spends 10 minutes at the Twin Ring Motegi track near Tokyo with a pre-production prototype of the new Honda Amaze with its all-new, first-ever diesel engine for India
1st minute: Looks just like the Brio. Just with a boot slapped on. But in a segment with stuff like the DZire and the Indigo CS, looks aren't going to matter.
2nd minute: Interiors and the dash are pretty good. But since this is a pre-production prototype, there will be minor changes in the final car when it comes to India in the first quarter of 2013.
3rd minute: The engine makes it clear that’s it’s a diesel with the note. But it’s smooth and low on vibration.
4th minute: This all-new 1.5-litre engine doesn't have much of turbo lag. Power is linear from 1000rpm. But if you want to push the car, 3000rpm seems more like it.
5th minute: Honda wants to keep power and torque figures close to its chest. But the car seems to have more than 60bhp from this short driving impression.
6th minute: Corners are not its strength. It has too much roll, though the steering is smooth and progressive. 5-speed manual gearbox is precise and easy to slot too.
7th minute: Rear seats are spacious with good head, knee, shoulder and legroom. Unlike the hatch, your head and rear glass aren't within touching distance.
8th minute: Being under 4-metres long, the Amaze will qualify for small car benefits. So pricing should be competitive with the DZire.
9th minute: Overall The Amaze is a good product, but the key here is this diesel engine, which is smooth, tractable and reasonably refined. It’s a strong spine on which Honda India’s future should rest well.
10th minute: Honda has taken forever to come up with a diesel to India. And the Amaze is good starting point to set that right. Now they better not go back to that old habit of pricing their car at too much of a premium just because they are Honda.