Renault Captur Features & Specifications

OVERVIEW ;

The Duster has been a smash hit for Renault in India, bringing many new buyers to a brand not very popular until then. The Kwid further established the French carmaker’s credibility and now, Renault hopes to repeat the success with the Captur, a premium SUV with strong crossover DNA.The Captur shares the engine, transmission and chassis with the Duster, which is a good thing as they’ve proved their mettle over the years. But what makes it more expensive than the Duster. We’ll find the answer in this review. Check Price of  Captur

EXTERIORS ;

The Captur’s crossover design may not appeal to all at first glance. But, spend some time with it and the edgy design grows on you. We once parked it next to a Duster at a restaurant and were pleasantly surprised at how mature the Captur looked. Yes, it isn’t as tall as a conventional boxy SUV, but there’s no doubt that it looks like a premium offering. Will you give it a second glance? Oh yes. It’s got a bit of novelty on its side for now, and the bright orange colour our test car wore only aided the eye-ball grabbing. There are some premium car elements here too. That includes the full-LED headlamps and the Audi-like ‘dynamic’ turn indicators. Low beam has a wide spread and a long throw too. But, in terms of illumination – it felt just a bit brighter than the LED projectors we’ve used in the Ignis or the Dzire. Request test drive for Captur in Cazprice

The profile and the rear are a notch understated compared to the face. The design here has some understated French flair, which is going to be an acquired taste for most. That said, the 17-inch wheels look classy, and the 215/60R17 tyres look just right sitting under the flared wheel arches.The two-tone is well-executed, and it’s easy to see why Renault say the Captur was designed to sport a dual-tone paint scheme even since it was conceptualised. Keep in mind that the dual-tone combination will be an option. There’s quite a lot of customisation options on offer as well, which should give you the liberty to deck the Captur up the way you want to. From the rear, the Captur tries hard to shrug off the resemblance to the little Kwid. The tail lamps, the bumper and the windscreen all look like polished, grown-up version of the hatchback. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in our books, though.

INTERIORS ;

While there’s nothing to complain about the chic exteriors, the interiors are a bit of a hit-and-miss. The wrap-around dashboard is a fresh design and certainly feels like a step up from the Duster’s. There are also some great design touches such as the butterfly-shaped instrument cluster that gets a large digital speedometer in the centre, flanked by a tachometer and a fuel gauge. And I really like the ambient LED lighting and design of the air conditioner controls. However, our biggest gripe is the type of materials that have been used for the dashboard and the overall use of hard plastics for the interiors. They don’t feel as upmarket as they should for a car in this category, especially the roof liner which feels like it’s from one full segment below.Then there are some slightly wonky design elements, like the centre armrest – it doesn’t fold away and interferes with the operation of the handbrake lever. We really hope that all variants of the Captur offer hill- hold assist; trying to start moving from a standstill on an incline will be quite tricky otherwise. Then there are the front seats. Only the driver’s seat gets height-adjust, which is fine. What isn’t fine, however, is the fact that even the lowest setting on the seat is so high that it not only gives you a commanding view of the road but also of the entire top of the very large dashboard; this serves as a visual reminder of the basic quality of plastics that populate much of the cabin. And, if you’re on the taller side, say over 6ft, you are going to be uncomfortably close to the roof. The other ‘fit’ issue with the Captur can be found in driver’s footwell. The pedals are well proportioned and placed, but forget a dead pedal, there’s almost no space to the left of the clutch. This means the driver needs to keep his left foot under the clutch pedal when cruising; not an easy transition to make if you have large feet.

Renault made a big deal about its ‘panoramic’ windscreen and minimal A-pillars, along with the quarter windows designed to provide you much better situational awareness of what’s around and in front of you. While the side-to-side visibility is great, sitting so high up behind a raked windshield cuts out a bit of the view of the sky. Now, this isn’t a problem when it comes to driving, but it does give you a feeling of looking at the world through a narrow letterbox.The front seats themselves aren’t too bad though. The two-tone white- and-black leatherette seats look and feel good, and there’s enough support for your back and under-thighs, as well as sufficient bolstering for your shoulders when tossing the car around corners. The design and similar contouring are seen on the rear seats as well. While two adults, or even three in a pinch, can sit fairly comfortably, the kneeroom is nothing to write home about, and the rising window line robs the back of some airiness. The rear cabin space also gets its own set of AC vents which should be useful on hot days.

PERFORMANCE ;

The Captur is powered by the very familiar 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine. Although this 108bhp motor is identical to the Duster, Renault has fine-tuned it, to boost refinement and drivability. Unlike our experience in the Duster which has pronounced turbo-lag under 2000rpm, the Captur feel more linear and there is a nice build-up of power from as low as 1600rpm. It felt significantly more refined too thanks to the better sound insulation. This motor comes in its own beyond 2000rpm and carries on till 4300rpm, after which power tails off. Even on the highway the punchy mid-range makes overtaking just a flex of the right foot away. Although the sixth gear ratio is really tall, it’s a great cruising tool that keeps the engine spinning at just about 2,000rpm at 100kph; great for stretching your fuel tank. The Captur will be a better city run about than the Duster too thanks to the lighter clutch and slicker gearbox. Like the Duster, the Captur’s ride quality is exceptional. It smothers even the biggest of potholes with ease and even on rough roads you can maintain a fair clip. In fact, the faster you go, the better the ride. Also Renault has worked hard on the refinement and it has paid dividends. The cabin is very well insulated from the outside and it’s only when you cross the three-digit mark that there’s some wind noise entering the cabin through the A-pillars.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The Captur is dynamically very sound and it was bound to be since it shares it underpinnings with the Duster. Handling characteristics are very similar to the Duster. The steering offers good feedback, sometimes more than you would like. It still has the mid-turn kickback but can be irritating at times. Nevertheless, this is the best steering in the segment as far as enthusiastic driving is concerned. The Captur is not unnerved in changing direction and while doing so there isn’t much body roll.The Captur offers a very settled ride. It is barely moved by rough and bad roads. At slow speeds, almost every undulation is filtered before it reaches the cabin. At high speeds, the rear passengers did feel a few jolts over very rough roads but overall, the passengers would find no reason to complain as far as ride is concerned. Braking performance is progressive with the pedal offering good bite.

BRAKING AND SAFETY ;

The list of Renault Captur safety features include Front Disc Brakes, Drum on Rear, ABS with EBD, Rear Parking Sensors, Central Locking, Driver & Passenger Airbags, Crash Sensors, Rear Seat Belts, Seat Belt Warning, Power Door Lock, Child Safety Locks, Side & Front Impact Beams, Passenger Side Rear View Mirror, Rear Camera, Centrally Mounted Fuel Tank, Engine Immobilizer, Automatic Headlamps, Follow Me Home Headlamps and ISOFIX Child Seat.

VERDICT ;

So on the whole is the Captur a welcome addition to the market? Yes most certainly. It is stylish, offers unique style and is unlike another product in many ways. The fact that Renault is going to town with personalization options is also great. These span everything from excessive (!) chrome add-ons to theme-based decals, even an array of roof wraps and a cool chrome embellishment for the front grille (kind of reminds me of the A-Class’ diamond grille). Now to the prices – which start at ₹ 9.99 lakh for the petrol and go all the up to ₹ 13.88 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the top-end diesel model. The car will compete in the C-SUV space (compact SUV) and that currently sees products like Creta, Compass, etc. All I know is that I would have been surprised if Renault were to price the car at a premium. the current prices are very aggressive – as this is a Duster rival too after all. There are just three variants on offer and the base RXe variant comes with plenty of equipment, as I too pointed out earlier. Is the space hotting up then? You bet! Your move Maruti Suzuki (S-Cross facelift notwithstanding)! Dare I say the Vitara, baby?

 

Tata Zest Features & Specifications

OVERVIEW ;

The past few years haven’t been good to Tata Motors’ passenger car division. It has had a few good products, but there always was something that didn’t sit right. Of course, there were even more things that were brilliant about the products, but desirability, one of the most important things in an economy such as ours where a car still remains in large part a luxury rather than a necessity, was absent. Tata has now recognised this, and has thrown everything they have behind the new range of products that will launch from now on, and it all begins with this small car that will replace the cheapest sedan on the planet – the Tata Zest. Does it manage to deliver what Tata so badly needs? Check Price of Zest

EXTERIORS ;

Tata Zest was designed with inputs from the company’s three different design studios – Pune (India), Conventry (UK) and Turin (Italy). Several designing processes were also carried out by the help of Jaguar Land Rover – company’s luxury vehicle divison, as more than 6000 engineers and technicians worked relentlessly and rigorously across five countries and eleven centres. All the aforementioned hard work resulted in the birth of a distinct and never-seen-before sedan in the form of Zest. Being based on a thoroughly modified X1 platform, The all-new styling of the Zest is based on its new design direction of ‘Confident Dynamism’. As far as the front fascia is concerned, it flaunts the all new company signature grille with the newly introduced ‘Humanity Line’. This front grille is complimented immensely well by the dual projector headlamps with chrome accents, which are standard for every variant, except the base XE. Moreover, the top-end trim XT also enjoys LED daytime running lamps. The front bumper boasts triangle shaped twin fog lamps and double slat air dam. Request test drive Zest in Cazprice

Coming to the side profile of the sedan, it has an enlarged C-pillar which makes the roofline a bit sloppy. The Zest has body colored ORVMs with blinkers and turn indicators, body colored door handles, and body colored bumpers as standard across the entire range of variants. The flared wheel arches have been bestowed with 15″ alloy wheels which, again, are standard feature and offered with each and every variant. At the rear-end of the car, the Zest is the first car in its segment to flaunt LED tail lamps. The whole tail lamp cluster is quite stylish and feature a wrap around design. The boot-lid gets a lot of chrome treatment, particularly around the horizontally positioned strip, company logo and model badging. Tata Zest is being offered with 6 vibrant colors – Buzz Blue, Venetian Red, Sky Grey, Dune Beige, Platinum Silver and Pristine White. In all, Tata has finally succeeded in carving out a niche sedan that is good looking, stylish and sporty. It won’t be an exaggeration to term it ‘The Best Tata Car’ till date in the exterior designing aspect.

INTERIORS ;

Now most of the Indian consumers wants maximum out of their cars interior because this is the place where most of them and their family would spend their time in. Tata has tried to make the interior look new and fresh and we must admit that the interior of the Tata Zest neat and and modern compared to other Tata Motors products.The first thing that catches everyone’s eye when they step inside a car is the dashboard, in the case of Zest compact sedan Tata has fitted a completely new dashboard which looks very modern and premium. Tata have used Java Black & Latte colors. The newly designed three spoke steering wheel looks new.In addition to that Tata also has highlighted some important bits with chrome which overall adds a very interesting and premium finish to the dashboard. The top end variants definitely gets lots of goodies like Harman touchscreen multimedia system with 8 audio speaker, Voice recognition and SMS readouts and even steering mounted controls. The top trim also gets automatic temperature controls which can be operated via the touchscreen interface.

Now coming to the comfort factor the seats definitely feels comfortable while the white colored leather seats make the interior feel plush and appealing. From the pictures it is quite clear that the rear seats has sufficient amount of leg room which will definitely be useful during long journeys but what you will lack are the storage spaces inside the cabin, there is neither any arm rest on the front or even in the rear seats which is bit disappointing though. However at the rear of the car you will get a 360 litre boot which can help you store lot of luggage’s but the Swift Dzire or the Honda Amaze provides even better boot space.The base XE trim gets lot of important goodies like tilt adjustable power steering, air-conditioner with a heater option, front power windows, manual central locking and foldable key but unfortunately you won’t be getting any audio system with this trim. While the top end trim gets Automatic climate control, Multifunction steering wheel with voice command, Rear parking sensors, Electrically adjustable wing mirrors, Driver seat height adjustment, Harman music system with 8 speakers which supports

PERFORMANCE ;

The Tata Zest is offered with the tried and test 1.3-litre Quadrajet diesel engine which produces the same output as it used to earlier. This engine is sourced from Fiat and is also popularly called as the “National Diesel Engine of India”. While offered with a 5-speed manual earlier, it now also gets paired to a 5-speed AMT automatic gearbox, making the Zest the cheapest diesel automatic in the country and also the only diesel automatic car in its segment. The bigger news is the new 1.2-litre Revotron petrol engine, which has been developed by Tata Motors in conjunction with AVL. It’s the first and only turbocharged petrol engine in its class.The 1.2-litre Revotron turbo engine uses an alloy head and a cast iron block, it belts out 90 PS at 5000 RPM and 140 Nm of torque at as low as 1750 RPM (up to 3500 RPM). The Zest gets a clutch lock and once you start the vehicle, you will really appreciate the low NVH levels, the motor is super refined with no vibes at all. In fact, the NVH is so good that at speed with the audio system playing, you can’t hear much of road, tyre or wind noise. Drivability is where the 1.2T Revotron mill truly shines, it offers an excellent low and mid-range punch but lacks top-end thrust. There is no turbo lag and performance is instant too, with power delivery being linear. The engine doesn’t rev quickly though and you do have to work the gearbox for quick overtakes, more so if the RPM drops below 2500 RPM in higher gears (4th and 5th).

So for instance, driving at 90 km/hr in fifth and you stand on the pedal, the motor does take its time to pull, clearly fifth gear is for cruising. Redline comes in just under 6000 RPM with the tacho glowing red once you whizz past 5500 RPM. 100 km/hr comes up in third gear with the tacho ticking in at around 2300 RPM in top gear at the same speed, so the engine is relaxed when you want to maintain cruising speed on the highway. Tata Motors has tested the engine for 3 lakh hours and there are many highlights of this powertrain – 10% faster than the closest rival, highest power and torque density in it class, 23% better peak torque than the closest rival. The engine doesn’t sound sporty but you can hear the turbo whistle. This is not the motor which will put the tarmac on fire as it’s not tuned for high revs but drivability is its forte. Still, it does cut off smoothly when it hits the redline (like European cars) and doesn’t feel jerky there.While accelerating, if you lift off, the RPM doesn’t drop quickly, it increases a bit and then falls very slowly. First gear is good for 50 km/hr while second will see you do 90 km/hr. The engine won’t rev more than 5000 RPM in neutral. The Revotron engine also has a first in class drive mode selector (developed with Bosch), you can choose between Eco, City and Sport. By default, the car is in City mode and a touch of a button on the centre console changes the mode (which is reflected on the 2.5-inch display on the instrument cluster). This change happens on the fly and the Eco mode is aimed at mileage, the Sport mode boosts performance marginally while the City mode gives you the best of both (the throttle response is altered). You can feel the power trailing off a bit in Eco mode while the accelerator feels more instant in Sport, the 0-100 km/hr timings reflect the difference in different modes and the same is significant. The 5-speed gearbox offers smooth shifts and the clutch is light too. We can expect a mileage of 13-15 km/l from the petrol Zest.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The final area where huge strides have been made is the chassis and suspension. Without getting into too much detail, what you need to know is that Tata has managed to find a sublime balance between ride and handling; perhaps even the best in this class. Drive it over any manner of road blemish and it will flatten it out impeccably, and quietly. Even big potholes hardly faze it. Road shocks are cushioned brilliantly and the sense of calm in the cabin even on a really bad surface is amazing for a car in this segment. The only time it comes close to being caught out is when you drive it quickly over large road undulations, at which point, it may pitch a little at the rear. Under very hard braking too, the rear can get a bit unsettled

Amazingly, the relatively heavy and tall Zest darts around corners quite capably too. Its wider tracks help it feel more planted than an Indica, and the body movement is very well controlled for a car that seems to ride quite high. Yes, there is a bit of body roll but the overall balance of the chassis doesn’t make it an issue. The new electric steering unit, borrowed from the Nano Twist, also works really well. It’s pretty accurate and the ‘active return’ feature does subtly make things easier on the move. At speeds, the steering does feel a bit light but doesn’t take confidence away from the driver.

SAFETY ;

The Tata Zest uses a baked hardened steel in its construction. It gets front and side crumple zones along with protection bars for rear passengers. Safety equipment includes dual front airbags, ABS, EBD and Corner Stability Control (CSC). The Zest feels strong, the doors close with a reassuring thud and the thickness of metal is good too. However, the vehicle isn’t tested by Global NCAP yet and we can only comment on the safety of the vehicle after a crash test rating has been given to it. The company has crash tested the Tata Zest at its own facility and it meets Indian regulations.

VERDICT ;

It must be said that Zest is probably Tata’s best and well coveted attempt to target most sort after compact sedan segment. It actually breaks away from what we Indians are used to seeing in Tata Motors product portfolio till date as this sedan brings forward the company’s latest design philosophy and engineering to conquer competition. In sheer performance, the petrol is the one that impresses the most while the availability of an automatic in diesel is definitely going to attract a great number of seekers. The attractive pricing at which the company has launched the Zest into the market, will surely pull a lot of customers towards it, especially when it comes to the first-in-segment diesel automatic variant.

 

 

Audi S5 Facelift First Drive

OVERVIEW

The Audi S5 Sportback is a performance car based on the Audi A5; the latter which has proven to be a success globally, hasn’t been launched in India yet. The ‘S’ brand isn’t as mean or powerful or driver focused as the ‘RS’ brand from Audi, but to underestimate the S5 would be unwise. The V6 petrol engine under the hood is tuned to deliver a mix of both performance and efficient driving. And cars carrying the S badge must be fun and practical in equal measure. So, does the Audi S5 Sportback deliver on these promises? We find out.

EXTERIORS ;

By using a mix of lightweight materials and design, Audi claims to have shed as much as 132.3 pounds, all while increasing the sophistication of the car’s overall aerodynamics. The result is a drag coefficient of just 0.25. According to Audi, the body itself is the lightest in its competitive field, and it’s the segment leader when it comes to aerodynamics.As you can see from the images above, the front end sports a new design. The corners of that unmistakable Audi grille are sharper, while the grille itself appears to be wider and comes with more horizontal slats running from side to side. Down below, the air inlets are taller and slant downward towards the center. A new trim insert adds character to the outside and bottom edges of the air vents. The hood itself is also more muscular, sporting new body lines, but on the side, the biggest difference is the redefined body line between the wheel arches. This body line is now slanted more in the front, giving it a sportier appearance.

In the rear, that little lip in the center of the decklid has been lengthened, and now runs the width of the lid, integrating smoothly with the contours of the rear quarters. The taillights are now thinner and sport a cleaner appearance with a highlight on the outside and upper edge. The rear diffuser now has four vertically oriented fins, but the model still sports dual exhaust outlets in each corner. I’ve never been a fan of how similar Audi’s “S” models are to the standard “A” models, but at least the new S5 can be differentiated by looking at the front andrear fascias.

INTERIORS ;

There are a few ‘Look at me, I’m sporty’ bits. The flat-bottom steering for instance. It is wrapped in leather and is just the right size. Then there are splatters of carbon fiber on the centre console and the doors, which look cool. You get a different instrument cluster and a gear knob from the RS5 with ‘S5’ stamped on it too!The front half gets an extremely busy centre console that is full of buttons. The slab-sided dash houses a rather small, 7-inch screen that acts as the display for the navigation, reverse camera, music system and the drive select as well. The CD player and the dual zone climate control interface sit right below. The barrage of buttons around the gear lever does seem confusing at first. Fiddle around a bit, and you will get used to it in no time. While on the subject, let us point out that using these buttons on the move, is a task in itself.

The test car came equipped with something Audi calls ‘Super Sport Seats’ upholstered in top-class Napa Leather. It’s an option we highly recommend you tick on the list. The seats are super supportive and hug you tightly. They don’t let you slide around even under hard cornering or braking. The seats are easily my favorite bit on the S5. I wish I could say the same about the rear bench, though. With the front seat set to my driving position (which is usually all the way back and as close to the floor as possible), I could barely fit in the rear seat. Legroom is severely limited. Moreover, the headroom isn’t all that great either. The oh-so-pretty sloping roofline eats into the headroom for the rear occupants. If you are a six-footer like I am, the car’s roof will be your new best friend. To sum up, the interiors are standard Audi fare. That’s about it. The changes are minimal here too, and we’d forgive you if you thought there were none. Yes, it does look similar to many other Audis. But hey, why change something that’s not broke? That said, it could use a fresher looking design like the Q7.

PERFORMANCE ;

The Audi A5 Sportback in India comes with only a diesel engine. This TDI mill is the familiar 2.0-litre unit that we’ve seen on many VAG cars. Offered in the higher 190 PS/400 Nm tune, the oil burner is powerful enough for the A5 and makes the Sportback drive with quite a lot of urgency. The engine has some clatter which is audible outside while the insulation in the cabin is extremely good and thus the clatter isn’t really heard inside. The powerplant feels responsive right from lower RPMs with turbo lag being not much of a concern. As the revs increase, power delivery feels swift and progressive and the car touches triple digit speeds in no time, with 0-100 km/hr coming up in a claimed 7.9 seconds.

The diesel engine has good surge till 4500 RPM and due to the huge amount of torque on offer, it never really feels out of breath. The cherry on the cake is that the diesel mill is pretty efficient too, and you can easily get a respectable fuel economy of 10-12 km/l which is good for a car this powerful and heavy. The TDI engine comes mated to a 7-speed transmission with power being sent out to the front wheels. The transmission is smooth in its shifts and there are no complaints on this front. You also get the usual driving modes via Audi Drive Select while the gearbox comes with Sport and Manual modes too.

The Audi S5, on the other hand, comes with a very meaty 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol engine. The drivetrain is good for 350 horses and the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer is also offering quattro as standard on the S5. Moreover, the gasoline motor gets an 8-speed transmission. Right from the word go, the TFSI unit feels sharp when it comes to throttle response and the car picks up pace so quickly, that 0-100 km/hr comes up in a claimed 4.79 seconds which is just brilliant. The powertrain doesn’t really have a dead spot in the rev band and goes freely all the way to 6500 RPM. The exhaust also sounds sweet and reminds you that you’re driving a performance car. The gearbox, again, is well-matched to the engine and thus does a very good job of transferring all that power and torque to the wheels.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

The Audi S5 Sportback is quick to turn and while we had our reservation about the way she will handle the bad roads, the Audi S5 Sportback’s ride quality is not that all stiff. The ground clearance isn’t much (Audi refused to give numbers) but even with four people on board, it didn’t bottom out over the occasional speedbrakers we found on the route. Around bends, the car holds her line well with quattro helping things to a great extent.The Sportback design gives her a low roofline at the back. For tall chauffeur-driven people, the ingress and egress might be a bit of an issue. Once inside, the high belt line too doesn’t help much – you get a bit cooped up feeling. This is a 4-seater at the best. And the car will easily carry the luggage of these four folks – a 460litre low loading lip boot takes care of that.

BRAKING AND SAFETY ;

Braking features of Audi S5 include ventilated disc brakes, electronic stability control, start-stop system and 8 airbags. The electronic stabilization program of Audi S5 includes hydraulic brake assist which makes the drive quite stable even in tough driving conditions. There are fog lights at the front, ABS with EBD, traction control as well as the crash sensor, ISOFIX child seat mounting, anti-theft wheel bolts etc.

VERDICT ;

The S5 is a rather unique proposition, because it has no direct rivals at the moment; at least not in India. At Rs 62.9 lakh, it may seem pricey for its size, but then it’s far cheaper than any of the other performance sedans. It’s also properly spacious, comfortable and practical enough to be used on a daily basis, which solidifies its one-car-for-all-purposes USP. So, if you want a luxury sedan with a healthy dose of performance mixed with everyday comfort and usability, but also want a little more sex appeal than the old S4, the S5 Sportback certainly fits the bill.

 

Honda Amaze Facelift First Drive

OVERVIEW ;

The company’s operations have returned back to normal and production has limped back up since. However, there has been one other deficiency in Honda’s portfolio in India – a very key ingredient for success in today’s skewed market scenario. And, that is a diesel engine in its most vital models.

Honda has always meant petrol for Indian car buyers and that hasn’t stopped them from buying cars such as the CR-V or the Accord. But with the overwhelming majority of small car buyers now choosing diesel over petrol and Honda increasingly relying on its hatches for volumes, a diesel engine in its grasp is being sorely missed. Find best offers on Amaze

Honda has had large diesel engines in its European line-up and its i-CTDi and i-DTEC engines have been around for sometime. With a plan of catering to markets like India, Honda had earlier this year showcased a small 1.6-litre diesel engine. Finally, a slightly smaller (1.5-litre) version of this diesel engine will make it to the Indian market shoehorned into the bonnet of the ‘Amaze’ – the sedan version of the Brio hatch.

EXTERIORS ;

That said, the new Amaze is now on offer with a CVT transmission, only for the petrol version though, a segment first. A facelift usually results in a younger, more appealing looking car, and of late it also includes the addition of newer features and technology. The Amaze gets exactly that. With competitors like the Maruti Suzuki Dzire and Ford Figo Aspire offering more bang for the buck, the Amaze was beginning to feel a bit dated inside out. So it gets a revised front end including a new grille and bumper, and redesigned tail lights at the back. The grille gets more chrome, like the other newer Hondas, especially the Mobilio, extending all the way to the headlights on either side. The bumper is now more muscular thanks to what look like flared nostrils at either end to house the fog lamps. The tail lights look a lot more attractive too, thanks to the new design.

INTERIORS ;

The Honda Amaze gets a major change on the inside. It gets an all new glossy black dashboard with centre console resembling the Honda City. This new dashboard gives the car a premium feel. Now, there is a new in-dash music system layout and even climate control too. A new instrument cluster too has been added to the Amaze., however the same steering wheel is retained. The new Amaze facelift comes with a similar set of features like integrated music system with bluetooth, steering mounted audio controls, dual airbags, ABS, climate control AC being some of them.

Where the Honda Amaze has an advantage over the competition, it is the rear seat space. The rear seat knee room and head room are one of the best in its segment. The Amaze with its 400 litres of boot space is one of the largest in its segment. The Amaze is a practical compact sedan and this is what works in its favour.

PERFORMANCE ;

We’re familiar with the 1.2-litre i-VTEC motor, having driven it extensively in the Brio and the Jazz. Like all modern Honda petrol engines, it is near-silent at idle and has good overall refinement. Like the Brio, it’s available with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic.

The performance is similar too. Responses low down are great (better still with the automatic and its torque converter push) and it gets off the line eagerly. Unfortunately, it is let down by a weak mid-range, and you will find yourself shifting down every time you want to pick up the pace. This can be very annoying when you’re cruising on the highway, and here’s where you’ll really feel this engine’s lack of grunt. Its real strength is in its top end and it gets a second wind if you rev it beyond 4500rpm. However, here’s where things get quite noisy, and we can’t imagine too many Amaze owners will be gunning it to its redline in everyday driving. The five-speed manual is a delight to use – very light and accurate, with a compact lever and short throws. The clutch is light too, which should be helpful in traffic. The automatic gearbox is closely related to the one used in just about every automatic Honda car in India. Honda uses a CVT automatic for the Amaze (and the Brio) in Thailand, but has opted to use the five-speed torque converter in India to save on import costs. It’s a good thing they have, too, as this ’box works well with the 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine, with smooth and quick responses off the line. There’s a bit of a flat spot in the middle, however, amplified by the engine’s weak mid-range, so fluctuating your pace in stop-go traffic can result in some hesitation in the power delivery. Although the shifts themselves are quick and seamless, the gearbox doesn’t have the sharpest reactions to your throttle inputs. Punch your foot down to overtake and there’s a noticeable pause before it kicks down a gear, but once it does, it’s happy to let the engine soar all the way to its redline before shifting up.

Now, on to the 1.5 i-DTEC ‘Earth Dreams’ diesel engine, which has been derived from the larger 1.6 diesel that powers European Hondas. This made-for-India 1498cc motor is a state-of-the-art four-cylinder engine that features 16 valves and twin overhead camshafts. Honda has focussed on reducing friction and weight as far as possible, and to this effect, has worked with Idemitsu to develop a special low-friction oil just for this engine. Also, the block is all-aluminium, which reduces weight considerably, and the engine sits on liquid-filled mounts instead of standard rubber ones to minimise vibration.

Fire up this engine and what immediately becomes evident is that the great refinement that Honda cars are famous for is more down to its silent petrol engines. You will feel a shudder from the front of the car as the motor rumbles to life, before it settles down to a reasonably quiet idle. But the clatter starts as soon as you get off the line, and it never goes away. The vibrations can be felt in the pedals too. It’s like having a loud, chatty passenger in the car with you. This is a result of the engine block being made of aluminium rather than iron – the less dense material is nowhere near as good a sound and vibration insulator. It’s a bit of a sore point, but thankfully it’s the only one; in just about every other way, this engine is an absolute gem.

Set off, and you’ll notice there’s precious little turbo lag. That’s because Honda has tuned the engine and the fixed-geometry Honeywell turbocharger for better low-end response. Unlike the compact diesels we’ve become used to, it produces its power in a smooth, linear manner, rather than with a sudden burst, and it has a lot of elasticity for a diesel engine. Peak torque of 20.4kgm is produced at 1750rpm, but there’s plenty of shove right from about 1200rpm, and it pulls strongly to about 3800rpm. The power then gradually tails off till it hits a very conservative 4200rpm rev limit. In fact, this diesel engine doesn’t rev anywhere near as high as some of its competition and this is because Honda’s research has shown Indian drivers tend to upshift early. The Amaze managed an impressive 0-100kph time of 12.97sec, but we feel it could have been faster still if not for the rev lock Honda has installed in the interest of engine preservation (it will not rev past 2000rpm when the car is stationary).

The Amaze cruises quite well too, thanks to reasonably tall gearing, and the meaty torque spread makes light work of overtaking on highways. The only issue is that, even at cruising speeds, you can’t get away from the engine drone. At 120kph, the 1.5 diesel turns over at a vocal 2,800rpm

DRIVING DYNAMICS;

When you talk about ride quality, Honda cars usually have a good balance and the Amaze is no different. Honda has set up the suspension for a family car and hence the ride quality is good. The Amaze absorbs most of the craters in the road with ease without making the passengers uncomfortable. With a ground clearance of 165 mm, one would expect the Amaze to bottom out frequently, however this ‘Made for India’ car will truly surprise you. Yes, it did kiss its underbelly on a few occasions but it stayed clear more often than we would have imagined. Handling is predictive and the steering feels quite mannerly at high speeds. The Amaze is certainly not the sharpest car in its class, but it’s one which gives you a healthy dose of fun when driven on the limit.

VERDICT ;

With the launch of new rivals in the compact sedan segment, the Honda Amaze started looking old amongst the fresher lot that come with new styling and latest equipment. However, getting some drastic changes inside out, the Honda Amaze facelift now offers a much more appealing package that can fend off some of its competitors. The heavily revised interiors are a fresh breath of air but the only chink in its armour is the lack of rear parking sensors that are only available as an accessory. The updated front and rear profile get sleek design elements that give it a broader stance and makes the Amaze’s presence felt on the road. Honda has marginally increased the price but it’s worth the extra penny spent.