Fleet and corporate buying remains the dominant force in the South African vehicle market, even though much of this is hidden in the sales returns as ‘dealer sales’, and the sedan is still the body shape of choice for company cars.
In line with world trends this is slowly changing – with one automaker already having announced it is ending production of small and medium sedans – and that trend will follow suit locally by choice or by force.
In the meanwhile, the way into this market is with a choice sedan and Honda is looking to capture a slice of the pice with the new Amaze.
Designed specifically as a sedan from the ground up, the new Amaze is larger in every dimension than the Brio, which it effectively replaces.
“We believe the new Honda Amaze will set a new, elevated standard for small sedans in South Africa,” says Toshiaki Kusakari, Head of Automobiles at Honda Motor Southern Africa.
“We are expecting the car to appeal to a broad and varied motoring audience, ranging from young singles and start-up families to mature motorists. All will be attracted by the Amaze’s value-added purchase price, excellent fuel efficiency and low operating cost.
“In addition, the new Amaze is exceptionally roomy and offers a generous luggage compartment, while Honda’s revered reputation for reliability and good resale value will also add to the Amaze’s attraction.”
The new Amaze is only 5 mm longer and 15 mm wider than its predecessor, but the wheelbase has grown by a substantial 65 mm, which translates into shorter overhangs and more interior space.
The front is dominated by Honda’s characteristic ‘solid wing’ appearance, which manifests itself in a broad bar extending across the width of the contrasting black honeycomb grille. It also provides a visual link to the bold halogen headlight clusters.
A lower air intake is framed by recessed, black-framed fog lamps in the case of Comfort models. A slim, colour-coded splitter below the air intake adds a sporty finishing touch.
Viewed from the side, the alloy wheels – standard across the range – are a visual highlight, while also reducing unsprung mass. A crisp shoulder line running from the headlights to the taillight clusters highlights the Amaze’s sculpted flanks while a broad sill contributes to the sedan’s planted, powerful look.
The rear view is dominated by the C-shaped taillight clusters, which frame a bootlid that opens wide and deep. An integrated spoiler on the bootlid’s leading edge adds a sporty touch, while the colour-coded, integrated bumper extends into a stylised rear diffuser.
Smart cloth upholstery is used to trim the contoured, supportive front seats and rear bench seat. Genuine Honda synthetic leather seat covers can be ordered as a no-cost option.
Gloss piano black detailing on the dashboard adds to the ambience, while the ergonomically designed dashboard features a driver-centric instrument binnacle with analogue dials for speed and rev count. The binnacle also houses a digital trip computer.
The centre stack is home to a sound system offering FM/AM radio functionality, as well as MP3 music file playback and Bluetooth, which allows hands-free telephony and music streaming. The four-speaker system also provides USB connectivity and an AUX socket.
A multifunction steering wheel allows safe and convenient control of the audio system, as well as making Bluetooth-linked hands-free cellphone calls. Generous cabin storage includes pockets in all four doors and cupholders in the centre console, while a fold-down rear seat armrest also incorporates cup holders for rear occupants.
Because of the new Amaze’s comparatively long 2 470 mm wheelbase, the interior is airy and spacious, with ample leg and headroom both front and rear. The boot capacity is 420 litres – 20 litres more than the original Brio Amaze.
The new Honda Amaze is powered by a 1 199 cc unit that employs Honda’s i-VTEC intelligent valve timing management system. Maximum power output is rated at 66 kW, reached at 6 000 r/min, combined with a torque peak of 110 Nm at 4 800 r/min.
In the baseline Amaze Trend model, a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while buyers of the Comfort model can also opt for a new-generation Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT).
With a kerb mass of just more than 900 kg, the Amaze is able to deliver swift performance, and frugal fuel economy. Manual-gearbox models will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 12,3 sec, while the CVT version requires 13,5 sec. Top speed is 160 km/h for all derivatives.
The manual-transmission Amaze models achieve a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 5,6 l/100 km, while the CVT version is only slightly thirstier at 5,7 l/100 km.
The Amaze’s all-new platform features an independent, McPherson strut-based front suspension, and a torsion beam rear set-up. It has been designed to offer confident handling and a refined ride, while the electrically assisted power steering ensures effortless, crisp steering response.
Overall refinement and NVH has been improved substantially, thanks to the new platform’s enhanced sound proofing and reduced engine noise transmission, as well as optimised engine mounts.
All Honda Amaze models are fitted with dual front air bags, inertia reel seatbelts front and rear, and IsoFix child seat anchors. On the active safety front, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) are standard.
The new Honda Amaze range consists of three models, all employing the same engine, but offering a choice between two transmissions, and two trim levels.
The most affordable Amaze is the 1.2 Trend, available as a manual gearbox model only. However, even this so-called base model offers buyers an extensive list of standard equipment.
Exterior features include 15-inch alloy wheels shod with 175/65 R15 tyres, a roof-mounted sharkfin antenna, and a high-mounted third brake light. Inside, smart cloth upholstery is standard, as is the tilt-adjustable multifunction steering wheel. The four-speaker audio system features FM/AM and MP3 functionality.
It also includes Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming and hands-free telephony. Central locking is standard, while the exterior mirrors are adjusted manually.
Moving up to the 1.2 Comfort, the exterior gains colour-coding for the exterior mirrors and door handles, while low-mounted, recessed fog lamps are standard, too.
Inside, the Comfort includes everything that’s standard on Trend versions, but adds automatic air-conditioning and electric adjustment of the exterior mirrors, as well as automatic door locking once the vehicle starts moving.
The 1.2 Comfort CVT is identical in all respects to its manual-gearbox stablemate, but gains gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel to allow for manual shifts between the CVT’s virtual gears.
PRICING, WARRANTY AND SERVICE PLAN
The new Honda Amaze recommended retail pricing is as follows:
Honda Amaze 1.2 Trend: R179 900
Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort: R193 900
Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort CVT: R208 900
The range is supported by a full 5-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a 2-year/30 000 km service plan, and a three-year AA Roadside Assistance package. Scheduled services are at 15 000 km intervals.