Entry-level cars do get overlooked by most automotive fans because life is all about horsepower and speed, but without these cars most manufacturers would fail in the market. These cars are known as the 'bread & butter" models, which basically means they will sell in such large numbers that they help keep the brand running and making all the other high horsepower, low volume models possible. Luckily these days cars in this segment are actually damn good now with features and technologies that used to only be available in more expensive models. As an entry into the Honda brand, a new offering is the Honda Amaze, a budget car in price only.
The all-new Amaze replaces the current Brio range, and it is definitely an upgrade in terms of of the bits that make people want a car. It looks a little different thanks to a very flat front end, presumably for that whole pedestrian safety thing, and while it's not repulsive, it'll take some getting used to. The design does make the car look more like a smaller Ballade though. The Amaze is just 5mm longer and 15mm wider but has a 65mm longer wheelbase which allows for better manipulation of the cabin space. There's a lot of chrome trimming for that upmarket look, but I'm not a fan of chrome so I kept imagining the car with the chrome bits in a brushed ally look or satin black or even better, piano black - but that's just me. The wheels chosen for the Honda Amaze are pretty decent, I'd love a set for the wife's Jazz - they're 15-inch hoops with a great design. The ride height looks a little too high for the boxy nose, but again, this won't bug most people and will probably be better out there considering the state of many roads.
The interior is much improved, a better dashboard design and layout is in play, and the finish is more upmarket, a selling point in this class. There's also piano black detailing seen, which as I said, would be great on the exterior chrome trim too. The speedo cluster looks good and includes a driver information screen, and with a multifunction steering wheel most things can be safely controlled on the fly. The entertainment system is basic, you have radio, AUX, Bluetooth and streaming capabilities which also means there's hands-free telephony. There's enough storage space to have a spot for all your stuff, and with no need to hide your weed anymore, you'll make good use of them. The rear gets cup holders too. Seats are cloth, but there's a free upgrade on all new Honda Amaze models where pleather fitted seat covers can be had for free. When you hear covers, you picture that flea market stuff, but they're fitted so well that they look like factory seats, it's actually rather impressive. There is one thing inside that bugs me, and it's a small thing but I'd change it ASAP if I were to own an Amaze. The rear parcel shelf is covered in beige, and while it looks ok and matches the rest of the interior, when you're looking out the rear view mirror on a sunny day you see nothing but reflection of the parcel shelf in the window. Not a fan.
Powering the all-new Honda Amaze is a 1.2-litre 4-cylinder with the usual i-VTEC system in play to help with the power delivery and to keep the fuel consumption low - very low in fact. There's just 66kW on tap with 110Nm, and while that's not a figure to brag about down the pub, the Amaze tips the scales at just 900kg. This does mean there's 73kW per ton though, so it makes the little sedan feel pretty nippy. Of course clever ratios in the 5-speed manual transmission do help with this. Even the CVT transmission exploits the power properly - but that's because Honda is the ONLY manufacturer that knows how to make a CVT gearbox that doesn't make you want to commit sewerage pipe and jump off the coffee table. Manual will take the amaze to 100km/h in 12.3-seconds and 13.5-seconds in the auto - both versions top out at 160km/h. Honda claim 5.6-litres/100km for the Amaze, but on the launch with launch driving, it was on 5.4 for most of the drive. If you drive consciously and hyper mile the thing, it'll likely stick in the high 4s. With the way the petrol price is rising these days, the fuel consumption is a definite selling point.
While it's an entry-level car, it drives great. The road noise and wind noise are way lower than expected, and the roadholding and handling are also more solid than you'd think. Overall it's a great little runner that won't break the bank, will keep you up to date with the Jonses and will see you ferrying the family around in a reliable, safe car. The car will do well in the segment, I think buyers looking at this kind of car will have a tough choice deciding between this and the new Suzuki Dzire. It will likely come down to the marketing, and Honda have roped in local rapper JR to help promote the Amaze which is pretty cool and may be able to sway the brand loyal.
There are two trims available, the Trend and the Comfort, and the CVT is only offered on the latter. The base 1.2 Trend starts off at R179 900, the 1.2 Trend Comfort comes in at R193 900 and the 1.2 Trend Comfort CVT is at R208 900. The range is comes with 5-year/200 000km warranty, a 2-year/30 000km service plan, and a 3-year AA Roadside Assistance package. For more info, head on over to the Honda SA website.
Check out the new Honda Amaze advert with JR