I had a need to evaluate an automatic car for my friend who just relocated to India. In pursuit of this I wanted to test drive the Nissan Micra CVT and the Honda Brio AT (yea the car that loves you back!).
So we headed to the nearest Honda showroom. Since the Brio was not available I had to make do with an Amaze petrol automatic which was still okay for me since the only difference between the younger hatch and its elder sub 4-meter sedan was the boot. Having put that behind, I sat in the Honda Amaze AT first. The car did not have a push to start option so I had to turn the key for ignition the good old way.
Just before trying out the Honda Amaze I took some time to check out the new Honda City in the showroom itself. I must state here that the new Honda City has definitely matured into somewhat of a C-Segment car now. Its more plush, the dashboard design is just about exclusive, the seating is more of the Chevy Cruze types (you know sunken in types) and the rear is styled awesomely with respect to space. All said and done with that part, I somehow still feel that Honda does not understand seating positions for all kinds of crowds when it comes to designing the Honda City. When I am paying over 10 lakh money the least I expect is a car that is suitable for the driving position.
The seats are totally bucket types, more of a racing car styled theme where the angle between the thighs and legs are rather steep. This makes pressing pedals an annoyance and the visibility in front only hampers the overall experience. The Amaze thankfully is NOT like the City. The seating is more natural just like in any other car and the front view is not obstructive but more useful. The seating angle and access to pedals is good and the footwell is not too cramped.
The rear seating in the Amaze is almost as good as the City and Hondas are always known for rear seating. Until of course the Caaaar from Nissan came in and blew them away. Sticking to the topic the overall feel of Amaze is very normal and the styling is not something to scream in excitement about.
Coming to the auto transmission on this car, its a 5-speed system which is **NOT** a CVT (continuous variable transmission) option. This in plain english means that if you step on the accelerator, the car takes it own time to respond. As the auto journals say, you get used to it after sometime, I feel if you have a rogue kid or adult who is used to road rage and want to tame him down a bit, then this car is a sure shot option. The rather lethargic response from the engine on pedal presses is not confidence inspiring especially if you want to do a lot many overtaking manoeuvres.
Another thing I found is that when you shift the gear into Reverse (R) mode, the car starts moving all by itself. This is something you need to urgently get tuned to without which if you are a newbie who does not understand this would cause a sure accident if you are not alert enough. I am not sure why Honda has designed it this way considering that they always have a keen eye for safety. Whatever the reasons, taking care is absolutely essential on the road.
The test drive path was a perfect one – some stretches with roads to accelerate on, and some riddled with potholes to see how a car behaves on such stretches of road. The natural reaction to a free stretch of road which is well tarred is to step on the gas and the Honda disappointed me with its reaction. “You press what you want, I’ll react when I want” is more a way of summing up its response. There was a clear 2 to 3 seconds lag in the response. With full load, air conditioner and luggage this is only bound to get worse. And since it’s an automatic there is no other way but to just wait for the car to do its thing.
The handling over potholes and bad stretches of road was kind of a mixed bag. In some places the car glided over the road whereas in some others the occupants were jostled quite a bit. Overall I would say the amount of cabin disturbance is tolerable though not of City’s standards. Of course then you get what you pay for isn’t it? I did notice that the petrol version of the car was very smooth and silent that the only noise if at all we could hear was those of other vehicles on the road. Full marks to Honda over this department of quality. There are reports of Honda’s diesel engine noise percolating into the cabin which they have rectified now in the City after listening to customer feedback. They have apparently also done some changes in damping in the Amaze itself for newer deliveries.
Source : [MotorBeam](http://www.motorbeam.com/wp-content/uploads/Honda-Brio-5-Speed-Automatic.jpg)
So at about close to 9 to 10 lac worth of money does the Honda Amaze provide any value for ownership? In my opinion, the City makes sense at that price while the Amaze is not a bad car as well. As for the driving experience, the automatic version of Amaze (and probably Brio too) leaves a lot to be desired without CVT at this point in time. There is a power mode available on the gear shift but how responsive it is, is another question altogether. Clearly Honda’s strategy is to maintain a price point versus feature provision to have a stand in the markets. The new Honda Jazz which is supposed to debut anytime this year will also likely NOT come with the CVT option but might still rake in numbers considering it’s pricing unlike the last time when it turned out to be an utter failure.
Coming up next: How does this car compare to the Nissan Micra CVT?