Honda has finally gone the diesel way and the Amaze is the big H's first ever oil burning offering. While the Amaze promises to bring a lot on the table, is it enough to knock the reigning king, the Maruti Swift DZire off its throne? We pit both the cars together to give you the details
Over the years we come across a lot of revolutionary things that change our lives. It might be something as simple as a video cassette recorder that came about in the ‘50s or something as important as the cellphone which came into existence in the ‘70s. Each of these things have not only brought in new technology but also the very important convenience factor to the table. When talking about cars, Maruti Suzuki has had its fair share of success when it comes to revolution on four wheels.
The humble Maruti 800 literally put India on wheels and since then Maruti Suzuki has struck just the right chord with Indian buyers with a string of success stories. Off late, however, Maruti Suzuki struck gold once again with the launch of the Swift hatchback and the DZire sedan offering fun, practicality and efficiency at just the right price. Now in their second avatars, both the cars are still a runaway success leaving the competition floundering in their wake.
In comparison Honda came in rather late and even though it did not come up with a car for the masses, the City, which was Honda India’s first offering has been the bestselling car in its segment since its inception in ’98. Honda has come a long way since then and arrogantly enough given stiff competition to its rivals even though they did not have a diesel to offer in any segment whatsoever. But off late, rise in petrol costs and a strong surge in diesel car sale and an equally drastic drop in petrol car sales made it a very compelling situation for Honda.
The big H finally had to give in to the market needs and have finally come out with their first ever diesel for the Indian market after 15 years of their existence. But this is no ordinary diesel and if you have gone through our first drive report you will know by now that Honda has gone all out in developing a car that not only meets all the needs of an Indian buyer in that segment but does a lot more.
Honda has always had some of the most brilliant products in its arsenal but this one is more than brilliant, it’s like I mentioned above, revolutionary! As good as a product it may be it’s still up against some very stiff competition, namely the Swift DZire which even after all these years has been at the top of the charts, not just because it’s a Maruti but because it’s a fantastic product overall. So how do these two Japs fair against each other in a no-holds-barred match? Let’s find out…
Rounded appeal and radically chopped!
Let’s get one thing straight, neither of these cars are going to win any beauty contests or get any neck spraining looks, and they aren’t designed to either. These are humble bread-butter sedans which are designed to appeal to all and offend none. The Amaze in particular has better proportions and being newer has the fresh face advantage.
The boot goes well the Brio front and if you choose to ignore the Brio’s existence, the Amaze looks like a properly designed sedan from ground up rather than a sedan with a boot designed as an after thought. Compared to the hatch, the Amaze gets a twin slatted chrome grille up front and the entire air-dam area is body coloured compared to black in the Brio. To spice up things on the side, there are creases running parallel to the waistline which add a lot of character to the car. The ten-spoke alloys look neat too, but the bigger and more detailed alloys of the Dzire look slightly better.
The rear of the Amaze looks somewhat inspired by the last generation City which is not a bad thing at all. The bumper area is huge but again a lot of creases on it means it does not look bland at all. An Indian touch comes in the form of a thick chrome strip running across the boot. All said and done the Amaze comes across as a good looking sedan which is sure to please all eyes and offend none.
Coming to the Dzire, I for one actually like the way it looks compared to my colleagues who do not prefer its chopped rear at all. The new Swift is a chunky looking hatch and in the sedan variant with that short stubby boot, the Dzire looks like a typical radical Japanese miniature sedan. While the design boffins at Suzuki could have done better than just ending the Dzire’s rear abruptly, I’m not complaining.
Even the wheels look fantastic and wrapped around in chunky 195 section Goodyears, the Dzire has a very glued to the road stance to it. Standing side by side, the Amaze definitely has the fresh face and a more proportionate look advantage, but other than that looks are pretty subjective and it will all boil down to what kind of look the buyer really prefers.
Considering we spend more time inside the car than outside ogling at them, the interiors are pretty much one of the most important aspects that are looked at before making a decision. Stepping inside the Amaze will immediately remind you of its hatch sibling with everything carried over. It’s a pretty no-nonsense layout and even borders slightly on the bland side.
There is a mix of brown black and beige which definitely adds colour to the cabin but the archaic round knobs for the AC controls (no climate control) simply look out of place in an otherwise modern car. Quality however cannot be faulted and while the plastics aren’t the best around, they are not too bad either.
The looks and feel of the interior is a department which is easily owned by the Dzire. The black beige combo with a dash of fake wood and aluminium finish trim look brilliant. The waterfall console looks a class above and coupled with a small display for the climate control buttons, the overall theme looks and feels fantastic.
But then there is more to interiors than just the look and feel. Space is a major criterion in this segment and from the looks of it, Honda has done their homework well. The Amaze has acres of space and is so well packaged that it gets difficult to believe how Honda could eke out so much space from a sub 4-meter sedan. Sitting on the rear bench with my 5’8’ inch frame, and the front seat fully stretched back, there was still enough space between my knees and the front seat to keep a small briefcase. Simply amazing!
The same however cannot be said about the Dzire. While space inside is just about adequate, a person taller than 5’8’ in the front seat means the person at the back is literally rubbing his knees on the seat. Sitting three abreast is also easier in the Amaze than in the Dzire. The Amaze also has the bootspace covered. At 400 litres, the Amaze definitely has a bigger luggage apetite than the Dzire at 316 litres. Honda have simply out done themselves as far as space is concerned and the Amaze is definitely one of the most comfortable and definitely the most spacious sedan in its segment.
Now Honda is company that has always sworn by petrol engines and its VTEC units have won rave reviews in different models all around the world. But the question was could they replicate the same success with a diesel? Well the answer is a yes and a big one at that. Honda has gone many an extra mile to not just help the Amaze allow it to impress on paper but also over its entire operating lifecycle. The DOHC 16-valve engine displaces 1,498cc and features cylinder dimensions measuring 76.0 x 82.5mm.
This small bore, large stroke combination has been the best bet to eke out the gains with Indian diesel fuel quality as also the dusty operating environs but there is more to the engine than just this. This 1.5-litre i-DTEC for India has been rated at 100PS @ 3600rpm and it whips up 200Nm of torque at 1750rpm. While 100 PS is now the benchmark, do not expect the Amaze to win traffic light GP’s. The engine is tuned for drivability and more importantly for maximum efficiency and it shows.
If it’s fun that you want to have then, the Dzire is right up your alley. The multifarious Fiat Multijet engine which does duty in the Dzire puts out 75 PS @ 4000 rpm as compared to the 100 PS from Honda and 190 Nm @ 2000 rpm. This engine and gearbox combo is the same as on the Swift diesel, down to the number of teeth on the gear cogs. It is refined and smooth and at cruising speeds, and unlike in the Amaze, you’d be hard-pressed to tell that it’s a diesel motor under that stubby hood.
Talking about numbers, the Dzire may be down on horsepower compared to the Honda, but once that turbo spools up, the Dzire leaps like a Rottweiler lighting up its front wheels. The Amaze relatively is quite drama free no matter how hard you launch it. Both are pretty close as the 100 km/h mark approaches with the Dzire being slightly quicker at 13.01 seconds compared to the Amaze at 13.15 seconds. However by the time you hit 140, the Amaze takes over hitting 140 km/h in 28.9 seconds compared to the Dzire’s 32.7 seconds.
While outright performance in these cars may never get tested, the drivability will and even in this department the Honda does not cease to amaze. With the gear lever stuck in 5th gear, the Amaze chugged on from 40-60 km/h in 13.8 seconds. The Dzire did the same in a yawning 18.2 seconds when the turbo finally awoke from its slumber. Honda’s aluminium unit simply reigns supreme and clearly highlights the technological prowess the i-DTEC commands over the DDiS unit.
Efficiency is the name of the game
Pretty much the most important question of the test, how fuel efficient are these cars? Well the Dzire has already made a name for itself in this department and at 14.8 kmpl in the city and 19.2 kmpl on the highway, it comes across as one of the most fuel efficient cars out there and beating these figures would be an extremely difficult task.
But as I mentioned before, Honda have done their homework well and just like their petrol engines which are pretty much the benchmark when it comes to providing efficiency with power, the i-DTEC has proved itself to be the benchmark amongst diesels. With 20.5 kmpl in the city and a phenomenal 23.2 kmpl on the highways, the Amaze is simply at its miserly best when it comes to sipping fuel. This is the highest fuel efficiency recorded for the Indian Driving Cycle from any series produced car in the country making it officially the fill it, shut it and forget it car!
Enroute to testing the cars we encountered a really bad patch of road undergoing construction. This made a pretty good situation to gauge the Amaze’s ride quality and compare it to the Dzire. The Amaze does not boast anything revolutionary in the suspension department with McPherson struts doing duty up front with a torsion beam layout at the rear but the quality of the damping hints of a well sorted car from a class above.
The Amaze rides on 14-inch wheels shod with MRF ZVTV 175/65-R14 radials specifically designed for it. I am sure that a 15-inch wheel would have been the way to go and hopefully will be added sooner rather than later. The Dzire which rides on 15 inch wheels along with fatter rubber does provide a tad bit of extra cushioning but then one will really be hard pressed to notice that extra bit of comfort.
Ground clearance too as a result is a wee bit higher in the Dzire at 170 mm compared to the Amaze at a 165 mm. Brakes are pretty strong on both the cars however, when the anchors were thrown at 100 km/h, the Amaze took 3.6 seconds and 48.6 metres to come to a dead halt while the Dzire took a slightly longer 4.5 seconds and 51.2 meters to do the same.
Brake feel was also slightly better on the Amaze with the Dzire’s brakes feeling a little spongy. Handling too is on par in both the cars and the Amaze surprisingly does not inherit the typically light steering that Honda's are known for and exhibited a very good balance between ride and handling. The Dzire was always a happy car when driven enthusiastically and still is. With bigger wheels and fatter rubber, it does grip better than the Amaze, but the soft rear immediately lets you know that the car is reaching its limit.
Has Honda got it right then?
The answer is a resounding yes! Driving both the cars back to back, it almost seems like the Amaze was designed and built just to topple the DZire from its throne. The cars are so similar in almost everything that they do, but the Amaze gets the better of the DZire by a tad bit in almost every section of the roadtest.
Like I mentioned before, the DZire’s USP is not just the Maruti badge, it is also a fantastic product which has reigned supreme ever since it came into the market. But it was about time that somebody upped the game in this segment and Honda has done just that with the Amaze. There is not much to choose from when it comes to the equipment either, but the DZire boasts a few more goodies like climate control and then some. Now coming to the price, the base DZire LDI starts at Rs. 5.99 lakh while the top end ZDI goes all the way to 7.60 lakh.
The Honda had to be priced competitively to take the fight to the DZire and boy have Honda got it right! The base E variant of the Amaze starts at Rs. 5.99 lakh as well. While the DZire has three variants for the diesel, the Honda has four with the top-end VX variant being priced at Rs. 7.60 lakh (all prices ex-showroom Delhi). Considering how superior the product is, Honda has got the pricing bang on and with four variants to choose from, there is an Amaze for every budget too.
Honda has struck gold with its very first diesel offering and this was something the competition was dreading for a long time and to come up with something better will definitely take a lot of doing. For Honda this is an all new beginning and we hope they out-do themselves with every new offering. For us consumers though, things couldn’t have been better!
Maruti Suzuki DZire
L x W x H (in mm)
3990 x 1680 x 1505mm
3995 x 1695 x 1550mm
100 PS/200 Nm
75 PS/190 Nm
88 PS/109 Nm
No of Cylinders
No of Gears
950-965 kg (manual)
4.5m (MT) / 4.7m (AT)
Rs 5.99 - Rs 7.60 lakh
Rs 6.00 - Rs 7.50 lakh
Got questions about the Amaze? Chat LIVE with ZigWheels Editor-in-Chief Adil Jal Darukhanawala and his team of experts on https://www.zigwheels.com/livechat/from April 15-19th between 3pm and 6pm to get all your queries answered about the new sub-4-metre sedan from Honda.