DRIVEN: Lack of oomph in Honda Amaze is not so amazing

Car aimed at first time buyers, young families and mature people.

Getting old sure changes things. When this writer was young, he was brave. He didn’t fear the repercussions of speed, fire, stunts, booze, loose women or debt.

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These days, weighed down by the merciless yoke of advanced age, things are different. Thus, driving the Honda Amaze 1.2 CVT scared the hell out of me.

Which was sad because the vehicle is competent in a number of pleasant ways.

Designed, Honda says, as a sedan from the ground up, it is aimed at first-time buyers, young families and mature people, who wish to revert to comfortable, reliable transportation.

Regarding its looks, Honda’s press splurge remarks on things like “a cohesive, streamlined shape with a flowing silhouette and a strong, individual character, while expressing the current Honda design language”.

That is too complicated for us, so we will simply invite you to peruse the photographs herewith, while adding that we liked the 5J alloy wheels in 175/65R15 rubber.

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Inside, the Amaze Comfort boasts synthetic leather covers on the front bucket and rear bench seats, plus an instrument binnacle with analogue dials for the speedometer, rev counter and digital trip computer.

The multifunction steering wheel allows convenient control of the infotainment system, plus the making of Bluetooth-linked hands-free cellphone calls.

Cabin space is adequate with storage pockets in all four doors and cup holders in the centre console, while an efficient air-conditioning system was a life-saver during the recent Gauteng heatwave.

Being a pukka sedan, the Amaze boasts a large boot, with an official capacity of 420 litres.

It houses a full-sized spare wheel – great, at a time when so many car manufacturers fob buyers off with a near to useless space saver spare, or an utterly useless can of tyre sealant.

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The car is powered by a four-cylinder, 1 199cc petrol engine, that produces 66kW of power and 110Nm of torque at 4 800rpm, all sent to the front wheels via a constantly variable transmission.

This is called upon to haul the car’s gross vehicle mass of over 1 000kg around, which brings us to the scary part of the test.

What happens is this: you pull out to pass a bus or taxi on a twoway road, planting your right foot flat on the floor.

About 30 seconds later you are still next to the other vehicle, suffering erectile dysfunction and sweaty palms as you watch certain death approaching in the form of oncoming traffic.

You eventually win the race against the bus, but after three such encounters you develop an embarrassing nervous twitch and occasional incidents of bed-wetting.

Honda says the Amaze will reach 100km/h from standstill in 13.5 seconds, but we had difficulty believing that.

They also claim top speed of 160km/h and we will not dispute it, but the test vehicle laboured from anything above 130km/h.

The Amaze would cruise on the highway at 120km/h, but the slightest of inclines would see the CVT system go gear hunting, with the resultant surge of engine revolutions causing jerky forward progress.

The same thing applied to inner-city travel, where the transmission often seemed unable to make up its mind about which cog to engage.

Maybe we’re just ham-fisted, but trying to use the gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel resulted in even more staccato progress.

Perhaps the available manual transmission would eliminate the above problems Having said all of that, the Amaze handled well due to an independent, McPherson strutbased front suspension and a torsion beam rear set-up, plus electrically assisted power steering, which made it easy to place the car accurately in bends while receiving exactly the right amount of feedback.

The brakes were also impressive, featuring 240mm discs front and 180mm discs rear, assisted by ABS and electronic brake force distribution.

Occupant safety starts with an extremely strong high tensile steel platform and passenger cell, plus dual front airbags.

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Another positive was the fuel consumption, which evened out at 6.7l/100km over the test period.

We had made no effort to drive economically, and a lighter right foot would certainly result in a lower usage figure.

In all, a capable vehicle with typical Honda sturdiness and attention to detail, but we would certainly not opt for the CVT option.

The Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort CVT will set you back R248 900.

The full Honda Amaze range is supported by a full five-year 200 000km warranty, plus a twoyear 30 000km service plan, and a three-year AA Roadside Assistance package.

Scheduled services are at 15 000km intervals.

Likes

  • Comfort, sure-footed handling.

Dislikes 

  • The automatic transmission
    inspired pure hatred,

Verdict 

A good concept that could be brilliant with more power plus a manual gearbox.

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