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The idea of a compact sedan that measures just shy of four metres in length hasn't really gone too well in terms of design. Most of them look a bit odd with a boot stuck at the back of a hatchback and designers world over have failed to make the sub-4m sedan look attractive and practical all at one time. The Honda Amaze, in the first generation, was a breakthrough for the designers. Finally, there was a car that looked decent and still got itself the tax benefit that the Indian government has put out for small cars. It wasn't a half-hearted job, but was designed to integrate the boot seamlessly in the design. In fact, it was so well done that I bought myself one back in 2013, when it launched in India.

Five years from then, there's a new Amaze and it looks completely new and the design is in sync with other Honda cars. It's completely new from ground up and the chassis now gets stiffer and more high-tensile steel has gone into the making of this to make it safer in case of a crash. While the overall length remains the same, the Wheelbase has increased by 65mm to free up even more space in the cabin, and so has the tread by 17mm. While we're at the dimensions, here are a few more numbers - the ground clearance is up to 170mm and overall height has reduced by 5mm. With the new chassis design, it has even lost 17kg.

These are just numbers, but what matters is how spacious is the cabin. And we're happy to report that the answer is very spacious for a car of this size. You can accommodate five adults without any problem and the rear passengers will never complain about leg- and headroom. In terms of cabin layout, there's good news too. The quality of plastic - which was a big concern in the previous gen - has been improved. There's now a big touchscreen that doubles up as a screen for the reverse cam and solves all your multimedia needs. It's got Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. With the dual tone dash, things now look more premium than before and the instrument cluster - though part digital and analogue - looks better than before.

The outside styling may not match up to everyone's taste. It all looks homogeneous with a well-integrated boot, but the front and the rear end looks like it's been chopped to fit in the size. The headlamps are now much sleeker than the ones they replace and the tail-lamps look like the ones on the WR-V. The overall styling can't be called path-breaking, void of sharp creases that run the length of the car.
Like the previous Amaze, this one gets an option of a 1.2-litre petrol or a 1.5-litre turbo diesel block. The petrol engine puts out 88bhp and 110Nm. The numbers don't sound that great, but on the move the engine does a good job. Hitting triple digit speeds isn't a problem and an average lad will find the power to be adequate for city use. Like most Honda petrol engines, the power is accumulated at the top end of the rev range and you'll have to work through the gears to get the Amaze going quick. Fortunately, the throws are short and precise and it makes light work to change cogs. And if you aren't willing to do that, there's a CVT option. The top-end petrol gets paddle shifters with seven pre-assigned ratios. The CVT keeps the engine at the lowest possible rpm to save fuel in D, and at the peak of the power curve when you shift to S and keep the foot pressed to the floor.

While the Amaze was the first to bring diesel and Honda together, the Amaze version II is the first in the country to mate an oil-burner to a CVT. With the manual gearbox, the 1.5-litre diesel makes 98bhp and 200Nm, but with the lack of ability to handle the torque, the rating goes down to 78bhp and 160Nm for the CVT diesel. Yeah, it sounds like a big drop in power, the torque curve isn't peaky and relatively flat in the CVT that ensures a constant supply of peak torque, right from 1750rpm. As a whole, the de-tuned diesel doesn't feel unpowered and the retuning of the engine ensures smooth power delivery across the rev band.

One strong point of the Amaze was its pliant ride quality. And that continues in this generation too. It manages to soak up bumps really well. And certain changes in the suspension setup from last time have ensured that roll and the pitch is kept under control. In terms of handling, it may not be the best, with the Ameo and the Dzire doing a better job of that, but the steering on this is heavier than before. It doesn't need constant correction at high speeds, either.

The Amaze is all prepped up to lock horns with the Dzire and offers a long list of goodies on the top spec. The list includes the reverse cam and sensors, steering controls, height adjustable driver's seat, touchscreen infotainment system, auto AC among other things.
To sum up, the Amaze offers a manual and an auto on the diesel and the petrol, rides well, has plenty of features and is big on cabin space. Most of which are the key deciding factors in this segment. Styling may not be its strong point, but as they say, it's all subjective. And as far as the pricing goes, we don't expect a big jump from the current Amaze and that means we're looking at about Rs 5.75 lakh as the starting point, which will go to Rs 9 lakh for the diesel CVT. If Honda manages to get the pricing right, the Amaze will make a strong case for itself, even against the best-seller, the Maruti DZire.

4cyl, 1.2L i-VTEC, 88bhp, 110Nm, 5-speed manual / CVT
Manual: 4cyl, 1.5L i-DTEC, 98bhp, 200Nm, 5-speed.
Auto: 4cyl, 1.5L i-DTEC, 78bhp, 160Nm, CVT

LxWxH: 3995x1695x1501mm, Wheelbase: 2470mm, fuel tank: 35 litres, boot space: 420 litres, tyre sizes: 175/65 R14 (top-end variants get R15 wheels)

Estimated pricing: Rs 5.75 lakh to Rs 9 lakh (ex-showroom).
Launch date: May 16, 2018.

Verdict: Not the best looking compact sedan, but a strong competitor in terms of driveability, ride, cabin space and features

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