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What is this?

A Honda Amaze with mild cosmetic changes to keep it current. Considering it has been a little over three years since the Japanese brand brought the second-gen of its compact sedan to India, it’s a little early to be bringing out a mid-life cycle facelift. Still, it’s not a major one. There are differences outside and in but the 2021 Amaze facelift is mechanically identical to its predecessor. Honda still offers the 1.5-litre diesel engine that makes 99 bhp and 20.3 kgm of torque when paired to a 5-speed manual or 79 bhp and 16.3 kgm of torque when mated to a CVT, along with the 1.2-litre petrol engine that produces 89 bhp and 16.31 kgm of torque regardless of whether it’s paired with a 5-speed manual or a CVT.

The new grille makes the Amaze look like it’s got a wider grin

One look at the Honda Amaze facelift’s nose and you’ll see the familial connection with both, the fifth-gen City and the WR-V. The upper half of the grille mimics the larger sedan’s while the slatted bit below is reminiscent of the cross-hatch. The new LED headlights and the LED DRLs do add some presence while there’s a bit more chrome seen around the fog lamps too. Although the silhouette is identical to the previous Amaze, the refreshed compact sedan gets sharp-looking 15-inch dark chrome alloy wheels. Just adding a chrome strip on the rear bumper and slightly reshaped LED tail-lights manages to uplift the rear end.

New dual-tone alloy wheels look nice, but wheel wells would be better filled out by larger rims

Whom is it for?

For those who want a comfortable and easy to drive compact sedan for the family and are willing to spring a little extra — Rs 6.32-11.15 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi for a dose of premiumness. And that’s especially true if you opt for the top-spec VX variant, which comes with quite a decent amount of kit. Automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, cruise control, a rear camera and auto headlights are some of the features on offer. 

Touchscreen feels a bit basic but works well enough

Space in the cabin for five passengers may not be class-leading but there shouldn’t be too much cause for complaint. Both the front and rear seats are well-bolstered and offer ample support. The interior feels roomier than it is thanks to the beige and black finish and the high-end feel is accentuated by the silver accents around the AC vents, the tilt adjustable steering wheel and on the dash and doors. 

Silver accents add a dose of perceived quality without looking gaudy

Does it handle?

Umm not exactly. The Honda Amaze was never geared towards enthusiasts and it shows in the way it’s set up. Ride quality is outright plush for a car in this class. Only very large bumps thud through and even then, not enough to upset passengers. The chassis and the suspension do a bang-up job. However, that also means the Amaze rolls when pushed into a corner hard. The steering feels direct enough for an electronic unit and weighs up at speed properly, but the 175/65 R15 tyres just can’t cope with too much excitement and squeal under pressure. At least one can’t fault the braking setup, though you’ll feel a forward pitch when you brake hard. 

Soft springs mean you’re going feel a lot of roll

How fast is it?

The 99-bhp diesel option is by far the livelier of the two engines, with the 89-bhp petrol unit feeling wheezy and out of breath in comparison. The diesel provides a good slug of torque from 1500 rpm onwards all the way to the 4000 rpm redline. The petrol engine is good enough to potter around at city speeds and the CVT adds significantly to the convenience and ease. However, it feels out of its element on a highway and overtaking manoeuvres may require some planning. Don’t let the paddle shifters on the petrol-CVT version fool you; it’s a nice touch but fails to excite as much as it should. I’m quite glad Honda has confirmed a CNG version is not in the plans at all, as that’ll blunt performance even further.

The diesel feels quite refined; the petrol feels weak in comparison

Of the four engine and gearbox options, the diesel-manual is the quickest, with the diesel-CVT, the petrol-manual and petrol-CVT following. It’s interesting to note that despite having a lower output than the petrol-powered Amaze, the diesel-CVT feels more fleet-footed and that’s down to the excellent CVT gearbox. It’s only when you try to play the hooligan that the CVT’s typical ‘rubber band effect’ occurs. It even actively stops you from revving the engine beyond 3500 rpm. In every other instance though, the gearbox is hard to trip up and silky smooth besides. 

The CVT gearboxes work quite well with their respective engines, but the diesel-manual (pictured here) is the only one that’s marginally fun

Is it fun?

By traditional standards of sportiness, the answer is no. The diesel-manual Amaze is the closest thing you can get to fun and it’s still a few miles away. But that’s not what the Honda Amaze is meant for in any case. It’s meant to be a slightly luxurious, comfortable and easy to drive entry-level sedan and it manages to tick those boxes. A fresh face should help it keep it in the running in what is an extremely competitive segment. 

Honda Amaze VX MT & CVT

Displacement: 1199cc, I4, petrol/1498cc, I4, turbo-diesel
Max power: 89 bhp@6000 rpm/99 bhp@3600 rpm, 79 bhp@3600 rpm
Max torque: 16.31 kgm@4800 rpm/20.3 kgm@1750 rpm,16.3 kgm@1750 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed, MT & CVT

F/R: 175/65 R15

L/W/H (mm): 3995/1696/1501
Wheelbase: 2470 mm
Ground clearance: NA
Kerb weight: 934-957/1051-1068 kg
Fuel capacity: 35 litres

PRICE: Rs 8.22-11.15 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)