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Honda Amaze Diesel CVT vs Maruti Dzire Diesel AMT

Introduction

With the advent of Honda’s new Amaze, anyone interested in a compact sedan (a segment that’s dominated by Maruti’s Dzire) wants to know if the newcomer stands a chance. We’ve given you a low-down of how petrol-automatics fare and you can read more about that here. But in this episode we stack up the diesel automatics. The talking-point certainly has to be Honda’s introduction of a CVT gearbox on the diesel variant, unlike the Dzire which uses an automated manual transmission (AMT). Does the Amaze have what it takes to overthrow the Maruti? Read-on to find out. 

Because looks matter

Exterior-wise, the Dzire’s design cues don’t lend it any sharp edges. We agree that the butt looks like it ended in a hurry, but it feels light-years apart from the older Dzire. The Honda, on the other hand, feels chopped-off on both ends to fit the sub four-meter category. But that snazzy chrome-intense grille surely turns heads - most people just love it. Sure, the Dzire has been around for some time now, but the wide chromed-tipped grille still attracts attention. 

Omit the sharp front end and the Amaze boasts of a flowing shape with prominent creases on its shoulder and rear portions. But surely, the Dzire comes across as a more proportionate car in comparison. This is thanks to a flowing A and C pillar, a tall shoulder-line and a reasonably proportionate boot which is ultimately more pleasing to the eye overall. 

Inside story

Although both cabins feel upmarket, thanks to the black-beige dash and and the beige upholstery, our choice ultimately tilts in favour of the Dzire. It feels more stylish and also features wooden inserts on the dash, steering and even the door pads. Besides, the large dials on the instrumentation are clearer, which makes them easy to read on the go. Furthermore, the ergonomics in play are better in this case, as the large touchscreen and all the functions on the centre console are tilted favourably towards the driver. 

What’s more, we can’t help but say that the exclusion of a touchscreen in this ‘V’ Amaze (CVT not available in the top-end ‘VX’) is a glaring omission, in comparison. Additionally, even front storage options are larger on the Dzire thanks to the larger cubby space in the centre and the door pads. But the Amaze beats the Dzire hollow when it comes to overall visibility. A large glass-area along with thinner pillars in the Amaze bumps-up the visibility factor a few notches, unlike the Dzire which has a high window-line all across. 

At the front, although the Amaze has marginally more legroom and better shoulder room, the Dzire beats it overall. Not only does it have slightly more headroom, the seats are much larger and sport better under-thigh support. Other than the Amaze’s extra knee-room at the rear, it’s pretty much a one-way show. As the Dzire’s bench is larger and also wider near the doors, seating three people is a slightly more comfortable affair.

The Dzire also gets rear air-con vents which is absent in the Honda. Furthermore, a tad more headroom in the Dzire aids taller occupants, and the higher seat helps make ingress much easier in comparison. On the boot front, the Amaze wins on paper by offering an additional 40-litres over the Dzire’s 378-litres. But in reality, both enclosures offer more or less the same luggage storing capabilities - the Amaze’s is deeper while the latter is wider.

Has it all?

The main difference between the Dzire and the Amaze is that the former is available in the top-end ‘ZDi+’ trim while the latter is only available in a lower ‘V’ trim (VX is the top variant). Both cars get features such as ABS with EBD, two airbags, defogger, start stop, keyless entry, auto-ac, power windows and mirrors, tilt steering and height adjustable driver’s seat. However, while the Dzire gets LED headlamps, a rear-view camera, auto headlamps and a rear ac-vent, the Amaze does without a rear view camera, auto headlamps, rear ac vent, and makes do with halogen headlamps.

At the wheel

Twist the ignition in both cars, and you’ll instantly agree that the Dzire’s engine is more refined and is less heard within the cabin. This is simply due to a brilliant noise insulation job carried out. Lack of similar insulation on the Amaze, along with the characteristic trait exhibited by CVT gearbox of clinging to the higher rev-range, results in more decibels from the engine at slow speeds.

Power for Maruti’s Dzire comes from the 1.3-litre 74bhp diesel engine with 190Nm on tap. In comparison, the Honda Amaze’s larger 1.5-litre mill makes a higher 80bhp. On the flipside though, it churns out a markedly lower 160Nm of torque. Couple the Dzire’s superior 30Nm torque advantage to its 990kg weight, vis-à-vis the Amaze’s 1040kg, and I know what’s going through your mind. But that’s what is on paper. 

In real life though, when off the mark, the Amaze’s torque is unleashed with a strong and consistent tug that’s quite unlike the Dzire’s which feels sedate in comparison. Furthermore, in bumper-to-bumper traffic situations, the Dzire’s AMT gearbox’s shift lag can get jerky. One needs to be careful with a foot on the brake, else it could just leap and upshift when you intend to slow down or maintain a specific speed. 

Since the Dzire’s AMT gearbox requires one to be constantly alert at creeping traffic speeds, it kills the whole idea of having an automatic for comfort (other than the absence of the clutch of-course). On the other hand, there are no such concerns involving the Amaze’s CVT whose power delivery is much smoother and linear. This makes the Amaze’s power output more predictable and far more usable.

Although the Dzire’s AMT shift-lag decreases substantially as speeds rise, it just can’t match the Amaze’s strong and constant flow of torque throughout the rev-range. To give you a perspective, despite testing the Amaze in wet conditions, 0-100kmph took a quicker 12.71 seconds unlike the Dzire’s 13.14 seconds (dry conditions). 

Even the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph drivability tests, an indication of quicker overtaking, are clocked in a swifter 6.58 seconds and 9.04 seconds by the Amaze. In the Dzire though, it took longer - 8.19 seconds and 10.49 seconds respectively. However, it needs to be said that the Amaze’s engine noise (due to its CVT) isn’t as prominent as speeds rise, since it is overpowered by the road noise, tyre noise and other exterior noises that filter into the cabin. 

On the fuel efficiency front, while both cars returned more-or-less 19kmpl on the highway, it is the city-run that surprised us. The Amaze returned a substantially higher 16kmpl when compared to the Dzire’s 14.2kmpl. 

Road ettiquettes

Considering that the primary use for these autos would be in the city, the steering needs to be user friendly. The Dzire inches ahead of the Honda here since its lighter steering makes manoeuvring in tighter spots easier. Although the extra heft in the Honda’s steering means driving fast is more confidence inspiring, there’s some added arm-work when driving in the city. That said, the Dzire’s steering isn’t perfect either - it feels slightly vague off the straight-ahead position. 

On the ride front, the Dzire’s mature bump absorption is similar to cars that are a few segments above. Regardless of the speed being travelled at, the well-judged damping from its suspension set-up gives it a flat ride with hardly any up-and-down movement. What also needs a special mention is that there’s absolutely no suspension noise.

Although the Amaze’s suspension set-up absorbs most bumps well, it lacks the finesse displayed by the Dzire, and the harsher bumps can be felt within the cabin with a loud noise. Now, since the dampers are set on the softer side, there is some up-and-down motion as you go faster in the Amaze. Not to forget that there’s considerably more tyre and road noise in comparison. 

Conclusion

The Amaze makes a strong case for itself because of its superior slow-speed drivability, better efficiency while driving in the city, better visibility and extra knee-room at both rows. Besides, it boasts a bigger boot, and is also cheaper by about Rs 55,000. However, the lack of some features are just too obvious, its dash doesn’t offer similar ergonomics or premium-ness, the engine sounds coarse and the ride and handling isn’t as accomplished either.

What primarily doesn’t work for the Dzire is the jerky power delivery at slow traffic speeds which can get frustrating. Then there’s the poorer visibility, smaller boot and the lower city fuel efficiency in comparison. Nevertheless, the Dzire still wins this test despite the higher price tag since the engine is refined with better noise insulation, it has more features, its cabin oozes better ergonomics and more style, has more comfortable seats overall, and has a sorted ride and handling combo.


Pictures: Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi


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Score Sheet

Parameters Max points

Maruti Suzuki Dzire

Honda Amaze

DRIVING FEEL      
Steering response 20 14 13
Directional stability 25 15 18
Engine characteristics 25 16 16
Gearbox 20 12 16
Visibility 10 7 6
Intermediate results 100 64 69
       
SPACE      
Front Space 25 14 12
Rear space 25 12 9
Feeling of space 20 14 10
Boot space/flexibility 20 15 14
Payload 10 5 5
Intermediate results 100 60 50
       
IN THE CABIN      
Comfort equipment 25 12 13
Operatibility 15 11 10
Feel of quality 20 13 12
Front seats/ingress 20 14 14
Rear seat/ingress 20 14 12
Intermediate results 100 64 61
       
PERFORMANCE      
Acceleration 25 16 18
Top speed 10 7 8
Driveability 30 23 29
Braking 25 20 18
Environment 10 7 7
Intermediate results 100 73 80
       
ROAD MANNERS      
Ride quality 30 23 21
Turning circle 15 14 13
Handling 20 14 14
Manoeuvrability 15 12 11
Safety 20 3 4
Intermediate results 100 66 63
       
PRICE      
Price 45 20 20
Resale 10 8 6
Warranty 10 7 7
Fuel efficiency 35 23 23
Intermediate results 100 58 56
Total 600 385 379
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Maruti Suzuki Dzire Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 6.81 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 7.01 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 6.4 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 6.85 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 7.03 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 6.84 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 6.76 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 6.71 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 6.52 Lakhs onwards
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