The petrol Amaze will continue to be powered by the same 90bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder, SOHC i-VTEC motor that was found in the outgoing car. We drove the manual version first, and straight off the bat, you notice the unusually audible engine noise, which gets even more pronounced on harder acceleration. There were many instances during the drive when I actually preferred to back-off the throttle, just to keep the decibels low.
Going forth, this motor pulls in a linear fashion all the way to 6600rpm red-line. That said, there’s a mild surge at about 4000rpm till 6000rpm, after which it tapers off gradually. Although the output (90bhp/110Nm) from this 1.2-litre motor isn’t exactly sizzling, there’s just about enough performance on tap to keep you going, be it in the city or out on the highway.
But at times, especially while overtaking, you may have to work the gearbox more than usual to extract more performance. Of course, what makes this task easier is the five-speed manual gearbox that has a positive feel due to a smooth shift action. This, coupled with a sporty gear lever and a light clutch pedal with a short travel makes for an ideal and relaxed driving experience. Honda added that the manual gearbox version would run 19.5km to a litre of petrol.
Let’s now move on to the new Amaze petrol CVT. This seven-step CVT offers what’s expected of it - a whole lot of convenience while driving. One can use the paddle shifts to select the rpm range you would you want to drive in, and it comes quite handy to drive smoothly. As long as you don't floor the throttle, the power comes in seamlessly and the Amaze gains momentum in a progressive fashion.
However if you floor the throttle, engine noise gets intrusive, the rubber-band effect (like with all CVTs) gets obvious with rpms climbing annoyingly high, and it pauses longer than you’d like before gathering the pace expected of it. When you slot the lever into ‘S’, the rpms stay in the meaty portion of the powerband to give you the extra performance desired. But there's no doubt that the decibels from the engine make it feel stressed. Which is why I chose to drive in ‘D’ with a light foot most of the time. Honda also told us that the CVT was capable of returning 19km to a litre of petrol.
Despite the larger wheelbase and wider tracks (front and rear) over the older Amaze, the new car is still 17kgs lighter, thanks to 22 per cent more tensile steel being used. What’s more, Honda has tweaked the suspension geometry, and strengthened the suspension bits for a better ride and handling. Although we couldn’t gauge the handling bit on our brief drive, the ride has certainly improved over the outgoing model.
We noticed that the suspension setup absorbs most bumps with ease and only the harsh ones thud through into the cabin. It is this attribute which makes for a comfortable drive, be it in the city or on the highway. On the other hand, once the car picks up momentum on the highway, the softer-set suspension throws-up some up and down motion.
We also noticed that the diesel car’s noise insulation was better than the petrol’s. Be it engine or road noise. Now, since the petrol engine is less than 100kg lighter than its diesel counterpart, a lot less weight in the front meant that the steering of the petrol version felt much lighter in comparison. While it did feel progressive with enough feedback for day-to-day driving chores, don’t expect it to be quick for fast manoeuvres or high speed corners. That said, it gets the job done without any fuss.