It’s one of Honda’s bestselling cars in India. And now the Japanese car-maker’s Indian unit is gearing up to launch a diesel CVT (continuously variable transmission) version of the popular Amaze in an effort take on the competition nipping at its heels.

The company says the new Amaze will be a game-changer in the compact sedan segment where market leader Maruti Suzuki is way ahead in the race. The new Amaze is Honda’s first diesel engine combined with CVT technology in India.

“This model will be a game changer for Honda Cars India–both in terms of boosting our business and further strengthening our model-lineup with advanced technology,” Rajesh Goel, senior vice president & director, Honda Cars India, said in a statement.

“The 2nd Generation Amaze has received excellent response from customers since its world premiere at the Auto Expo. There is a very strong interest from the market for the all new Amaze and we are confident that overall sales will be robust after the introduction of new model.”

Honda is pinning its hopes on the Amaze after its total domestic sales fell to 9,143 units in April from 14,060 in March. The automaker is not known for its diesel engines but is reinventing itself for the Indian market where diesel cars are hugely popular.

“We are preparing for the launch of all new Amaze this month and did not have stocks of outgoing Amaze. Besides, City and WR-V which were launched last year had witnessed new model sales spurt around this time. Both these reasons are reflected in lower wholesales in April this year as compared to last year. It’s a temporary phenomenon,” Goel said.

The Amaze is manufactured at HCIL’s Tapukara plant in Rajasthan and will be launched in the middle of May. The new model will have a 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engine option with both manual and CVT.

The new Amaze priced between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh will compete head-on with the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, the best-selling car in the segment.

Auto experts say CVT in diesel in India could be a big deal as its competition either uses automated manual transmission or a direct shift gearbox. Apart from the Dzire, the Amaze also competes with the Volkswagen Ameo, Tata Tigor, and the Hyundai Accent.

“Continuing with diesel is a good thing for Honda because the market is still there. This would be the first vehicle for the CV-diesel at this price bracket and it will definitely give an additional edge. The consumer expects more refinement into the engines,” said Gaurav Vangaal, senior analyst at global consulting firm IHS Markit.

“Honda needs to play on its premium and maintain the brand value. Beating Dzire is very difficult and CVT diesel is going to add more cost. But will be great to have a competitive product in the space.”

It’s been five years since the Amaze first hit the road in India. The company has sold 250,000 units since then, but the question is: Will the new model help it rev up sales?

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