4 Honda Amaze, 1150 kms, 1 Epic Journey across the east coast of India.
‘A wise companion is half the journey’ goes a famous proverb. Being autoholics, the ideal companion has to be an automobile and when you have 100 PS of power, the roomiest interiors in its class and the most fuel efficient engine in its category, it’s the perfect recipe for a memorable journey. The Amaze is the first Honda car in India to be powered by a diesel motor. The Honda i-DTEC unit produces 100 PS of power at 3600 RPM and 200 NM of torque at 1750 RPM and promises the perfect blend of power and efficiency as we find out on our ‘Drive To Discover’.
Last year, we were part of the Drive to Discover 3, where the Honda Brio embarked upon a journey through the entire country, from Jammu to Trivandrum along the picturesque west coast of India. This year, the Honda Amaze picks up the baton where the Brio left off. The Drive to Discover 4 was flagged off from Trivandrum and made its way to Pondicherry via Kanyakumari on the first stint. The second leg was covered between Pondicherry and Vishakapatnam. We took over the wheel at Vishakapatnam for the final stint of the drive to the city of Kolkata.
After being flagged off from Vishakapatnam, we head towards Puri. Puri is a holiday destination in Orrisa and has a generous coastline to savor the holiday mood. The highway roads were well surfaced and with barely any traffic, we were cruising at 140 km/hr. The Honda i-DTEC does get noisy on the higher end of the rev band but after having done more than 10,000 kms on the odometer, the engine was well run in and the sound was far less than what we had encountered on the media drive in Goa earlier this year.
We stopped for lunch at a local dhaba to devour some locally made sea food. After lunch we made our way to lake Chilika, which happens to be on the route to Puri. Lake Chilika is the largest lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world. Most of the fish in this area is courtesy of this lake. The water eventually flows into the Bay of Bengal. After a short stop at the lake, we head out towards Puri. As we exit the main highway, the road became bad and then worse. Large deep craters on the road made our progress slow. Here is when you really understand and appreciate what Honda meant by ‘Made for India’ car. The suspension is tuned for Indian conditions and it clearly shows. In spite of having a ground clearance of 165 mm, the Amaze did not scrape out as often as you would expect. Yes, the underbelly did kiss the road on a few occasions but the vehicle kept most of the undulations filtered from the cabin. We finally reached Puri by 9.45 PM and retired for the night.
The next morning was bright, sunny and the humidity levels were unbearable. With the temperatures nearing 42 degrees, our plan to relax on the beach was up in steam, quite literally. The cars were out in the sun and boiling but a few minutes with the AC turned on did the trick. Cooling was quick and efficient and one can’t help but appreciate the air conditioner, which was truly tested in such temperatures. Next stop was Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of the state of Odisha. A small flag off was planned there and top Honda officials were there to interact with us.
Our destination at the end of the day was Digha. Located in West Bengal, Digha is the most popular seaside resort town in the state and is frequently used as a weekend getaway. After leaving from Bhubaneshwar, we stopped for fuel. Before starting from Vishakapatnam, the cars were fuelled up to the brim and we had reset the trip meter to zero. After filling up to the brim again, we were astonished to get a mileage of 16.1 km/l, which is simply fantastic considering the car was on the limit at 140 km/hr on the highway and the AC working overtime had definitely dented the mileage. The beauty of the Amaze is that if you drive between 90-100 km/hr, you can easily get a fuel efficiency figure of nearly 21 km/l, which is more like a dream in today’s world. All said and done, mileage plays an important role to the Indian consumer and the Amaze ticks the right boxes where it matters most.
Our next stop was at the Sun Temple, Konark. Built in 1250 by King Narsimhadeva, the Sun Temple is built in the shape of a giant chariot of the sun God. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. To see this beautifully carved stone structure in person was an experience in itself. After a hearty lunch we head out for our final destination, Digha. The roads were decent but some sections were pretty bad. By the time we reached the highway, it was already dusk. We passed Cuttack and the highway become less populated. With barely any traffic we were cruising on the limit again, the well surfaced NH6 was a breeze to drive on. We were enjoying the drive so much that it was mutually decided to drop the plan to hit Digha, we now decided to head straight to Kolkata and it was a long drive through the night.
The drive was lengthy but comfortable. The seats of the Honda Amaze provide adequate back support and even the integrated headrest do the job well. We drove on humming our favorite tracks, which were playing through the iPod. The Amaze is equipped with iPod connectivity option and you can go through the entire playlist with the flick of a button on the steering wheel, quite convenient. Sound quality is pretty good too. At 3 AM we reached our destination and it was time to hit the sack.
The next morning was all about discovering Kolkata and the food it offered. The streets are swarming with Ambassador cabs and Kolkata is one place you get to see all the modes of transport, be it bus, cab, train or tram. The only place in India where the tram service is still operational. The famous Indian sweet, Rosugulla was invented by KC Das, a local sweet shop and we visited one of their branches to bite into a piece of history. We also visited famous landmarks such as Victoria Memorial and Eden Gardens.
Locals suggested two options for great food. We tried both and they were outright fabulous. Bhojohri Manna is a famous restaurant which offers delicious Bengali cuisine. One of their specialties is prawn cooked in coconut milk and served in a coconut shell. The other restaurant, Arsalan, offers mouthwatering Mughlai dishes. The story goes that when Bahadur Shah Zafar was brought to Kolkata by the British, his set of cooks came along with him. They stayed back and their descendants now run this place. The recipes are said to be have been passed down the generations and that’s the reason for that authentic taste.
After nearly 1150 kms, the journey came to an end. It had been a thrilling few days. Not only did we discover the East Coast with the Honda Amaze but we came out extremely impressed with this machine. The Amaze proved to be fuel efficient and yet packed the punch in terms of performance. The i-DTEC engine is an absolute gem and delivers a superb mid-range punch and the Amaze pulls without much effort from 70 km/hr to 140 km/hr in top gear. The steering is light and easy to lug around in traffic yet behaves decently well at high speeds, the light clutch adds to the fatigue free driving experience.
The interiors are roomy and we had more than enough boot space at our disposal. Not only that, the sub 4-metre length of the Honda Amaze makes it easy to park in tight spots. The Amaze tackled all the challenges thrown at it on this drive and came out unscathed. Extreme temperatures, bad roads, city traffic or high speed highway runs, it went through it all and it jut goes on to show that Honda has come out with a perfect product for the Indian market and the sales figures are proving the same.
The real world performance of the Honda Amaze is simply outstanding. Power, fuel efficiency, comfort and space blends together in this AMAZing package with Honda reliability speaking for itself.
Further Reading –