In a not-so-distant past, Tata Motors rolled out its Zest which changed the way people looked at the brand. The car is more reliable than the previous generation Tata cars, handles as good as, or even better, than the competition. But in the war of Zest vs Amaze, is the car good enough to beat the highly successful Honda Amaze which has been a clear winner from the time of its launch.
The Tata Zest has a really striking front end and sharp sides. A strong shoulder line, as well as another styling line towards the bottom of the doors, makes it quite attractive. Of particular note are the front headlights, which now feature projectors – a first for the segment – as well as LED daytime running lights and LED taillights. The instrument cluster is now back in front of the driver rather than in the middle of the dash. The Tata Zest has, by far, the finest interiors that Tata has ever produced. The top model of the Tata Zest features a touchscreen audio system with Bluetooth functionality and voice controls that actually works really well.
The car features two engine options: First is the ubiquitous 1.3-litre diesel engine sourced from Fiat, which is in 90bhp trim, and the second is the brand new 1.2-litre Revotron turbocharged petrol that has been freshly developed by Tata. The diesel engine makes a fresh case for itself with the AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) that it comes with. The Tata Zest is the first car in its class to feature a diesel automatic.
From behind the wheel, the engine is quite pleasing – giving the car enough poke for everyday use. However, in regular auto mode, the gearbox seems to throttle the engine’s response – perhaps the gearshift points have been programmed to maximise fuel efficiency, and so it feels a bit slow to respond. Things, however, improve massively when you switch to Sport mode – with response improving significantly since shifts take place at a higher rpm’s.
So, for the first time, here’s a Tata product that’s been engineered with a clear focus on consumers – and with quality levels to justify its price and positioning. The design, class-leading equipment levels, refinement, suspension setup, build quality, and space make the Tata Zest a very appropriate vehicle with which to reinvent a brand and its reputation. It hints towards a bright future not only for the Tata Zest, but also for the products to follow.
For the longest time, people had been cribbing about Honda not having a diesel engine in its portfolio. The Civic was once a segment superstar but now rivals from Toyota, GM and Skoda have relegated it to being almost non-existent and even the City – though still the mainstay for Honda in India – has been facing immense pressure from Hyundai. Brio, on the other hand, fights in a segment that’s dominated by Maruti and Hyundai, so life’s not exactly quite rosy in that part of land either. And, to lay the icing on the cake, everyone knows what’s the state of things with the Jazz and the CR-V.
So, even the dumbest graduate from the most hopeless management institute would say that Honda needs a miracle to get its mojo back. And I believe the miracle has almost happened. Mind you, I say almost. That’s why we did our Zest vs Amaze comparison to find a clear winner.
There’s been considerable buzz around the Honda Amaze – Honda’ first ever diesel product in the country, and one that’s going to fight it out in one of the most significant segment. The compact sedan fragment of the Indian auto market is dominated by the Dzire, while other players like the Etios from Toyota and Sail from Chevy and Verito from M&M are barely keeping afloat. Honda, it can therefore be deduced, has a very tough battle to fight.
The main buzz is around the 1.5-litre diesel engine that’s going to reset the tone for Honda in India. It’s a 98.6bhp, 200Nm engine and the power is sufficient for most jobs and the space inside is abundant. The interior – in totality – is taken from the Brio, the car which served as the platform for the Honda Amaze. The integration of the boot into the design is not as clumsy as the Dzire, but some still may call the Honda Amaze as a peculiar design. It’s not, however, unattractive. That’s where the Honda excels in our Tata Zest and Honda Amaze comparison.
Honda’s effort with the diesel engine is laudable and the Honda Amaze Automatic is a very well packaged product. You can read about the Honda Amaze in a more detailed way in our May 2013 issue which will hit the stands later this month.