Honda's arsenal in India will finally get a much-needed diesel boost next year when the new Amaze will reach showrooms. This will be Honda's first diesel engine car in the Indian market, though the company has been manufacturing and selling larger engined diesel vehicles in the European markets for years now.

The Hindu Business Line was given a sneak peek and a first-hand initial driving experience at Honda's test track in the Twin Ring Motegi, the Japanese auto major's research centre 160 kms outside of Tokyo, Japan.

The new Amaze is being nicknamed the Smart Micro Limousine for the Indian market by Honda engineers and it will continue to focus on Honda's 'Man Maximum, Machine Minimum' motto. The Amaze is built on the Brio platform and will attempt to offer entry sedan buyers a practical and reliable diesel alternative.

In terms of design, the Amaze is clearly the Brio clone from the front, though some minor changes to the bonnet grille will try to give it a couple of distinctive features. The rear, of course gets the addition of a boot. Unlike the Suzuki Swift DZire, the Amaze manages to carry-off the addition of the boot with much more panache. The tail-lamps and the shape of the boot lid give the Amaze a more natural look especially from a rear three-quarter perspective.

To take advantage of the excise norms, the Amaze will be less than four-metres long and sport a diesel engine that is just shy of the stipulated 1.5-litre size. The sedan's dimensions will be a total length of 3,990 mm, total width of 1,680mm, a wheelbase of 2,405 mm and a total height of 1,500 mm. The wheelbase has been increased by about 60 mm over the Brio hatch and that has made a world of difference to the amount of space offered inside the car.

The engine is an all-aluminium unit to leverage the weight savings that the metal offers. It will be smaller than 1.5-litre, but other technical details about the engine have not been confirmed by Honda and will continue to be pending until the car is homologated in the Indian market.

This i-DTEC engine is the smallest and one of the lightest diesel engines developed by Honda. It will employ technologies like lean burn, cylinder management and turbo-charging to ensure most efficiencies are squeezed out of the power-train. The engine is paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged diesel engine offers a lot of low-end torque and power and torque delivery is very linear and unbiased through the entire rpm-range. Though Honda can not officially announce the fuel efficiency until it is rated under CMVR, we can expect it to be between 14 kmpl to 20 kmpl depending on road conditions.

The interior of the new Amaze is typically Honda-like – Simple, clean and crisp dashboard panels with good quality plastic. The entire layout, features and driving position focuses on practicality. The front seats have been carried forward from the Brio hatch, as are a number of other parts in the cabin. Very much like the Brio, the Amaze also manages to provide loads of space inside the cabin. But the Amaze manages to take it one step further and leverages an amazing amount of legroom and knee-room for the rear seat occupants. The rear bench is also fairly comfortable despite a compact backrest.

Though Honda officials didn't focus too much on the petrol variant, the Amaze is expected to be launched simultaneously with the 1.2-litre petrol engine too by the middle of next year. The new 1.5-litre diesel engine will enable Honda to pull in buyers from the diesel segment, currently the overwhelming choice amongst buyers where the option is available. We expect the price of the new Amaze to be in the range of Rs 5.4 lakh to Rs 8 lakh depending on the variant and choice of engine.

(This article was published on November 19, 2012)
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