Vizag to City of Joy in a Honda Amaze

1100 kilometres of asphalt – some welcoming, others not so forgiving – across three states, four cars, two scheduled night halts reduced to one and nearly 30 hours of relentless driving. In short, a perfect test for a car that is emerging as the winner of 2013.

The best way to really get under the skin of a car, unearth its hidden vices and put to test its obvious virtues is a road trip. One that is exhaustive on the human body as also the machine and which offers a variety of terrain – from carpeted tarmac to craters on the moon.

Along with six other motor heads, we decided to submit the Honda Amaze through the gas chamber. Why the Amaze? Because it is a Honda, a company that never tires itself of proclaiming its credentials as a quality car manufacturer. Also, because Amaze has its first diesel engine, something that is not quite its forte.

Driving on the usual western ghat sections between Delhi and Goa, or the boring stretches up north around Delhi or even the narrow roads in the South was a passé. Everybody has done that numerous times over. We decided to head to the East and experience some sections where we thought we will find roads untouched by modernity.

Day 1

After a night’s stay at Vizag, the second largest city in Andhra Pradesh and one that has India’s oldest ship yard, we headed out northwards early morning towards Puri, the best known beach destination on the Eastern Coast. A journey of nearly 500 kilometres running parallel to the coast, it ordinarily takes 7 hours to get there. There were an awful lot of surprises though.

For one, getting out of Vizag was a painful exercise that cost us a good hour and a half. On leaving the city, the highway opens up and you get some of the cleanest stretches of road you can get in India. Which exposed almost entirely, the one big problem that the Amaze has… noise.

With endless stretches of glitch free road ahead of us, we throttled the vehicle mercilessly. At various points of time, all four cars were going bumper to bumper at speeds touching 140kmph, the maximum that Honda allows the Amaze to run. One wonders why a car that has a 1.5 litre engine underneath its hood and 100 horses pushing it ahead should have a top speed that is so low. The answer lies ahead.

Every time, the accelerator was floored, the engine noise seeped into the cabin. No amount of careful or careless wheeling around changed that opinion.

Judgment One: This car is indeed noisy.

But at the same time, the stability at high speeds and the confidence that it inspires there is unmatched. Which is why we could go bumper to bumper without a care in the world.

We also realised how deserted the NH5 or as the navigation device would constantly say, the Asian Highway 45, really is. For miles on end at least inside Andhra Pradesh there are no good eateries to be found. An indication of how rarely people travel on these roads.

And there are speed breakers too the kinds one would find only in this part of the country. Willy nilly in the middle of nowhere and in traffic so sparse, you would encounter a jam. A jam that would clear out just as inconspicuously. After encountering such mysteries that may cost you between 15 to an hour of your life’s precious time, a couple of times we finally realised the cause. Whenever political parties need to honour or felicitate somebody in small villages or hamlets in Andhra Pradesh, they encroach the highway, set up chairs, pull up banners and carry on with their festivities. After a good show, the gathering disperses matter of factly in double quick time. As if the traffic chaos around, does not matter at all.

The surroundings change somewhat the moment you enter Odisha. There is more traffic on the road and there are quite a few eateries for the starving. The best part of that is all of them serve and cook very good fish and mutton. The chicken is untrustworthy though as one of the members in our gang realised.

The road stays more or less as faultless. Even though we had heard there were a few stretches in Odisha where work on the Golden Quadrilateral was incomplete, we never encountered any such patch. The most exciting section is when you hit Chilka Lake before turning right for Puri. As the world’s largest fresh water lake, it is a sight not to be missed. Too bad we reached while the sun was setting which restricted the time we could spend there.

Heading out of Chilka, we committed hara kiri. Instead of following NH5 and taking a longer detour via Pipli, we followed the navigation map that gave us the shortest route. Only, that it wasn’t quite the shortest in the real world. Turning right from Bagheiput towards Nua Jagannath Sadak we immediately felt like we had reached moon. The road deteriorated with every passing kilometer to the point that maintaining a speed of even 15kmph was a task.

However, it was a test of the vehicle in conditions that can be found only in India. Through the large craters and over the nonexistent roads, only sporadically did we scrape the floor of the vehicle. And even at the end of the 2 hour ordeal, only the drivers were more relieved. The car remained unfazed.

Judgment Two: The suspension of the car has been well and truly tuned for Indian road conditions.

Day 2

Whatever little time we had to rest our battered bones after 9 hours of driving on day 1, we had to be ready to resume our journey in the morning the next day. Our destination this time was to head to Digha, a fast emerging coastal weekend destination just across the Bengal border.

The distance was a mere 350 kilometers but it was a dark continent for us as we had no prior information on what road conditions await us. To make matters worse, half of the group wanted to visit the Sun temple, which meant a detour of around 70 kilometers. Coming so close to the world heritage site, there was no way we could have given that a miss.

The road from Puri to Konark and then onwards to Cuttack was the most challenging of the whole trip. We had to leave the national highway after just a few kilometeres and let the two lane state highway assault us. The road was narrow with the oncoming traffic on your face but it was very well paved and allowed us to maintain a pretty high speed. It was surprising because nobody had expected such well made state highways in a state that is one of the poorest in the country.

After a brief stop and a hearty meal at Konark we headed towards Cuttack, the second largest city in Odisha. It took us almost the entire day to get there and while we were lucky to bypass Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack was unforgiving. We got stuck for another two hours meddling with the chaotic stop go traffic of the city. As always, the car did not flinch.

On the outskirts of Cuttack, we had to stop for our first refuelling. We had done nearly 665 kilometers in one full tank of 35 litres. Considering the conditions and when the air conditioning was working full time, we got an astounding mileage of 19kmpl. And that is the reason why the top speed of the car is not 170 or 180 kmph though I would presume it is more than capable of it. Higher speed is directly proportional to lower fuel economy. Where would you drive faster than 140 kmph anyway?

Judgment Three: The Amaze diesel gives you an economy that is as good as you can get. Driven sensibly, 20 plus is a given.

By the time we left Cuttack behind, it was early evening and with over 200 kilometers still to go, we were destined to spend the night driving. The road though was kind on us and thin traffic ensured that we were cruising along. We reached Balasore in a jiffy and with the clock striking 10, we stopped over for dinner and a grand idea emerged – of subjecting the car to the extreme test and driving through the night directly to the City of Joy. That meant another 250 kilometers and 5 hours of driving.

With a full stomach and the lure of Kolkata, we took the plunge. What followed was a race with just one pit stop at Kharagpur. We were hell bent to test both our capabilities as driver and the durability of the vehicle. By the time we reached Kolkata it was 4:30 in the morning. The car had been on the road nonstop for over 19 hours. And it never did give us a problem. Not even a niggle.

Final Score:

Distance: 1153 kilometers

Fuel consumed: 64 litres

Fuel economy: 18.01 kmpl

Top speed: 143 kmph

Engine : 1.5 litre IDtec diesel

Max power: 100 PS@3600 rpm

Max torque: 200 NM@1750 rpm

Verdict : Honda passes the diesel test.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)
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  • Abu Ahmed

    Israel’s interest is in delaying the settlement of the Palestinian issue and it is doing so since the 90s. The USA knows that settlement of that problem would solve many of its problems with extremists in the mid-east. Obama would do it if reelected & Netanyahu do not want him to be reelected for that very reason. The nuclear issue is just another ruse for the neo-cons & the Zionists to open one more war-front so as to keep the US mired in warfare, grab energy resources and replace regimes with the ones suitable to them. The US is already there in Af/Pak and is keeping an eye on Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Iran, central asian countries, and most importantly for us all, India. Its a fact that more bomb explosions took place in India since 2011 than ever before.


    Abu Ahmed Reply:

    Sorry, more explosions since 9/11, not 2011!


    Sumit Bose Reply:

    @ Abu, just how conveniently you are able to spear Israel as the belligerent state itching for a war. You ( as other leftists and apologists for Islamic nations) seem to conveniently “forget” that it was Israel that was attacked , not once, not twice, but three times and not by one but by 5 Islamic nations in one instance. The land was won at great cost and and at a very high count of life and blood. Israeli polititicians are not “stupid” as our beloved politicians have proved repeatedly to be, return land wrested with blood, limb and life without any guarantee of peace. Israel is well within its legitimate right to negotiate hard for guarantees of peace. After all Israel does not fire rockets or sends suicide-bombers who are eager to be married to 72 virgins. Besides, there never has been any country named Palestine. That area was taken over by Great Britian after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Palestine has always been a geographical enitity, never a plolitical state. The real impediment to the political settlement for a new state of Palestine has always been the absoloutist attitude of the Palestinians, who insisted in everything or nothing.


    Guest Reply:

    Most of the bomb explosions were carried out by your brotherly arabized jihadis and not by the mythical Zionists. Ranting about Jews aka Zionists is a clear sign of arabization. Are you not ashamed as an Indian to allow a foreign culture to put political opinions in ur head using their religious network? Why are you so weak?


    engrich Reply:

    in india bombs were planted by brhmnst.not by jihadis.


  • Anonymous

    “A nuclear bomb may or may not result in it bombing Israel.”
    Is that an acceptable risk? Israel should sit back and see whether Iran nukes it?

    A strike on Iran’s nuclear installations will really stop Iran IF the strike kills their scientists as well. Kill the guys working on it, and voila! Wish Indira Gandhi had the brains to do this to Pakistan.


  • Franck Stern

    Really! “level Iran in a day.” That is a fantasy by Israel. How long did it take NATO to quell Afghanistan? The little state of the size of NJ will not exist after a war with Iran. Big brother, the US has been talking of going to war with Iran for decades. What the US has not done, Israel will woe. The West is making Israel feel it is more important than it is. as far as I am concern, Israel is the real threat to International peace – not Iran.


    Guest Reply:

    Don’t you think NATO could have leveled Afghanistan in a day if that’s what it wanted to do? Maybe you do not know much about the military capabilities of these countries involved. They can level ten irans to the ground if they want . Religious affinity with a particular country should not be the criteria for supporting a country. That’s cult like behavior and immoral.


    MerkMan Reply:

    Franck, Israel has many nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. If Israels stated goal was to “Wipe Iran off the Map”, it has the technology to accomplish that task in about 20 minutes. It has had this capacity for about 30 years by most accounts. The fact that Israel has been through 2 wars of aggression against it by its neighbor countries in that time as well as being tormented by militants funded in no small part by Iran for all of that time, you still consider them the greatest threat to international Peace? You are smoking crack Franck, history demonstrates all the Jews want to do is live and be left alone. The mullahs in Iran and the corrupt states that surround Israel despise it’s very existence and have pledged to erase Israel from the middle east. I don’t hear noises like that coming from Israel, do you?


  • Guest

    “A nation with highly nationalistic aspirations, Iran doesn’t want to be dominated.”
    Zia seems to admire the nationalism of Iran but his opinion of Indian nationalist is very low and I don’t think he will consider himself a nationalist. So why is nationalism good for a theoretic shai muslim Iran but bad for secular India in Zia’s mind?


  • Anonymous

    I think we should keep out of this fight and just ensure we get a good oil supply from Iran. I think we are doing a good job bbtw dint Iran allow Pakistan to park their jets in Iranian territory during a previous war !!