Honda turns a new leaf, no writes an all new book, by embracing diesel and pushing its Man Maximum, Machine Minimum formula to new heights in its new Amaze sub-four metre saloon, first expression under its Earth Dreams Technology proghramme. Adil Jal Darukhanawala has the story from Twin Ring Motegi in Japan
There’s a kind of hush all over the automotive world, at least one that would be felt by all OEMs in the small saloon, large hatchback space. Well let’s not be bashful for once and say it up front: everyone from leader Maruti-Suzuki to Hyundai to Fiat to Tata Motors to GM and Ford have some serious competition to contend with in the form of the shockingly stylish and amazingly brilliant package Honda has conjured up, exclusively for India.
I am referring to the all-new Honda Amaze, the new sub-four metre saloon which is to be made only in Thailand and India but with our market being the first one to exclusively feature one of the newest diesel engines by any car maker in the globe. To associate Honda with diesel was near anathema for this proud Japanese marque which prided itself on its power-packed yet frugal petrol engines.
However the harsh economic environment coupled with an abject lack of offerings in a market so skewed towards diesel propulsion meant that whatever it might have had against the compression ignition engine has been jettisoned and in place has come that same vibrant, out-of-the-box thought process which harks back to founder Soichiro Honda’s avant garde innovative spirit. To say that old Soichiro would have been happy with the new i-DTEC range of small capacity diesel engines would be absolutely spot on! Related:Honda Brio-based entry-level sedan christened Amaze
However, before we move on to the all-new engine space Honda has waded into, we must focus on the new saloon, a car which is an Amaze-ing piece of automobile hatched out of the Brio baby. It is not about the 3990mm length of the car or its 2405mm wheelbase (50mm more than that of the Brio hatch) but the manner in which the fluidity of the exterior shape has been crafted.
It is not a stunted design like the Indigo CS (the car that created this segment) nor is it tacky like the Swift D’zire from Suzuki. It is one flowingly elegant design which makes style standout in a most elegant manner. To try and do this in a regular sedan is easy but to compress the whole in an even smaller package is truly virtue personified and the team under Junichi Teraoka, project leader on the Amaze has delivered mightily on this count.
Everything from up front till the Bi-pillar is familiar territory but going pact that to the C-pillar and beyond to the tail end, the treatment is completely different and goes on to trumps all rivals. The slightly wedgy profile which emerges is one of the most appealing shapes out there but one which is so very Honda. And from here if you step into the cabin, especially the rear end that is, you suddenly come up on to a whole new expansive vista.
The 50mm extension in the wheelbase has not only liberated acres of leg room for the back bencher sahebs but the boot is just as cavernous. In fact many of us who drove three laps on a section of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit were of the opinion that the rear seat space is close to that of the class leading Honda City! The door opening angles have changed on the rear doors to allow better access and egress while the H-points have been better optimized making for a fantastic seating posture for those occupying the back seats. Further, at least for yours truly, the manner in which the rear seat backs have the headrests so very ergonomically positioned enhancing the comfort and convenience in a huge manner.
The Amaze (termed the Brio Amaze in Thailand) we drove was one of just two fully built prototypes in the world and the only one in Japan with a diesel engine. (The Brio Amaze, with a petrol engine for Thailand was in that country where it is due for a reveal cum launch later this month). With at least another five to six months to go before launch in India, the interior trim had not yet been frozen but barring that aspect there doesn’t seem much wrong or out of place within the cabin which is so cool and so very Honda.