Japanese auto major Honda launched the much-awaited entry level sedan ‘Amaze’ keeping in mind the Indian conditions and competitively priced it between Rs 4.99 lakh and Rs 7.60 lakh.
Honda Amaze has seen constant comparison with Maruti Suzuki`s Swift DZire ever since it was announced. In an interview with Reema Sharma of Zeebiz.com, automobilist and columnist Ranojoy Mukerji shares his views on efficiency, positioning, market competition and future of the car.
Q. How will people react to Honda Amaze given the fact that Maruti Swift DZire has a dominant market position in its category? Will Amaze be a game changer?
See it is very easy to call something a game-changer. I would not want to categorise it like that. Amaze initially (or for that matter any brand) has to keep in mind Maruti’s dealership, sales and network services. Though today’s car does not require much maintenance as it used to be earlier, Maruti’s service network has no comparison. You will find Maruti service centres and dealerships all over India. Hence, Maruti does have an edge as far as maintenance of a car is concerned.
Secondly, in India nothing sells better than word of mouth. Honda Amaze will take some time to establish itself as the top seller. Let Honda sell two three hundred cars and you will see that the sales will pick up. But one can’t say that sentiments will change overnight. Give it some time. It will happen.
Q. Will the reputation of sedans like Civic or City further rake up the popularity of Amaze?
I don’t think so. Initially Honda Civic did very well but after a point of time it fell behind the Corolla. The notion of one best seller does not apply to another. Every car has its own dynamics. But as a product, Honda Amaze is really amazing. Driving the Amaze is absolutely hassle-free and simple. Hence I feel that Amaze will speak for itself and will not necessarily need any padding.
India is the first country to launch Amaze with Honda`s latest i-DTEC diesel engine technology. I also see a lot of demand coming from the taxi segment because they are big users of such cars which promise better mileage and good driving.
Q. Can Amaze dethrone Maruti Swift DZire?
Honda has never competed with Maruti. It always had its own target audience. But by foraying into the diesel segment Honda has certainly taken on Maruti. Honda won’t be able to dethrone the king overnight, but Maruti does have a threat. Unless Maruti does something very radical in terms of its engine (which I don’t see happening), it will lose out on remaining the market leader.
Q. Are you satisfied with the specifications of the car?
Oh yes! The best thing with this car is its torque. Some diesel cars are very good at high speed but it becomes very harrowing to move at low speed. So when you are at the red light, you need to accelerate more which makes bumper to bumper traffic a pain. Amaze produces more power along with high torque at low rpm. The 1.5L i-DTEC diesel engine delivers 100 PS power and 200 Nm torque that makes the car enjoyable to drive. Fuel efficiency is another USP of the car. Honda claims a mileage of 25.8 kmpl; so assuming even if the car gives 20 plus kmpl, it becomes the most fuel efficient car today.
Q. The base model of the car looks reasonably priced but the upper models are on the higher side. Don’t you think this could prove to be a dampner?
India is a very funny market you know. I will substantiate it with the example of Tata Nano. No one bought the base model of Nano. Everyone went for the top model which gave you power windows, AC, body colour bumpers et al. And moreover 80-85 percent of the car sales are through financing. EMIs have made things easier. Though I agree that the top model will not be the best seller but people will go for the models just below that which provide value for money.
Q. Can the consumers go for Amaze as their first sedan?
Absolutely! The brand name is very reliable. Honda has fantastic market credibility. And Amaze has all the ingredients to be the best seller. If your budget is between Rs 5 and 6 lakh you can go for Amaze. As a product it won’t disappoint you.