At eacrdlr, we always get our adrenaline going with the very thought of subjecting the newly ventured vehicle on our stringent road-test parameters. However the kind of rush that we felt in our veins the moment we set out to test the all new City, 4th generation of Honda’s most popular sedan in India, was simply unprecedented. And it is not only we who got the goose pimples while settling behind the wheels of new City as we were quite confident that even Honda had been going through this high-anxiety phase even as it winded up the hectic launch schedule of its 4th generation City sedan. The reason for this over-excitement is quite obvious as this new Honda City, with its first ever diesel heart, has got a lot riding on its shoulders. Bogged down by competition for almost last half a decade, Honda has now pinned all its revival hopes on this new City that had single-handedly furling the company’s flag in the Indian market even amidst the worst ever possible situations. Now not only this 4th generation City has to live up to the rich legacy of its predecessor, it also has to draw a chunk of market share that Honda had consistently lost to its arch rivals simply because of strange absence of an oil-burner in its portfolio for such a long time. Although City’s sibling; Amaze has brought in some relief for this Japanese auto major in terms of sales figures, it is actually this car; new City that the company looks up to in order to get its golden days back; time when Honda was used to be a leader in every segment it was present. The most obvious talk of the town about this new City is its diesel heart sitting under sculpted and whittled nose that has already shown its potential inAmaze. Although hailed for its efficiency and drivability, the only fly in the ointment is its noisy nature that becomes quite obtrusive once it gets revved beyond the mid-range. Honda has acknowledged this low-refinement chink in the Amaze’s armour and said to have worked upon it to improve its net levels of Noise-vibration-harshness NVH in new City. Along with this improved refinement aspect; City also claims to come with best-in-class mileage and interior space that further intensified our interests to put this all new creature under most stringent scrutiny ever faced by any vehicle at eacrdlr. Now whether this new City comes clean on the poor refinement allegations levelled on i-DTEC in Amaze along with coming close to the inflated claims on performance-mileage aspect in reality or not is something that everybody is wondering to know about? Answer however is not all that tough as you simply need to read further our comprehensive road test of diesel City to get every bit and byte of the investigation report carried out by credible and dependable team of experts at eacrdlr. We are sure at the end you will be able to finally judge yourself whether this is finally the Honda you have been waiting for or not.
New City: Cutting-edge style
Overall look of the new City is striking and a bit muscular as the new design is an example of evolutionary philosophy rather than entitled it to be called revolutionary. Honda’s designers have very cleverly chosen to stich with the design theme of outgoing model though there have been enough alterations to make this latest generation sedan quite different from its predecessor. In terms of similarity, the umbrella theme of ARROW style has been carried over though there have been a lot of sculpting and chiselling exercise that designers have used on the external shell of City.
Frontage of new City comes loaded with the heavily chrome splashed grill that looks quite a cheeky simply because of chrome excess. Honda has gone overboard in terms of its silver affair though the company has hit the bull’s eye when it comes to headlamps. The best part of front face is new sweeping, angular and a bit wrap-around classy headlamps that flank the chrome grill on either side. Bumper is now packed in some more muscles and with the extra body-kit (available on VX) looks quite rigid too. Fog lamps and air-intake housing features dynamic design that goes down well with the overall face design.
Side view of the City is dominated by the sweeping high shoulder line that originates from tail lamp cluster and going all the way down to the front doors. There is also been another character line just above the side skirts that gives way to a muscular profile look to City. Window line is quite high; higher than the previous City resulting in lower glass area in this latest iteration of City. Tyres on the new City feel quite skinny especially when compared directly against the overall muscular and solid pretensions of the car though it seems Honda has prioritized fuel-efficiency upon all other aspects.
Sleek side profile with ORVMs’ with indicators
Rear of the City is its most striking design part as the new City looks quite reminiscent to BMW profile; thanks to its spilt and wrap-around tail lamps design. Chrome treatment at rear too makes good case for itself especially compared with the front grill treatment meted out to City. Shark fin antenna looks classy and top of the line variant VX has also got goodie of sun roof.
Pulling it together, Honda City looks terrific and tremendously gorgeous in its flesh. Except for its skinny tyres and heavily chromed front grill, we were not able to find any mistake in this new augmented market proposition. New City is sure to invite the stares and that is a good thing to start with.
Being in the premium sedan category, Honda has to come up with perfect combination of both luxury and space as the level of customers’ discernment has reached to a new high in previous years. Company seems to have got the pulse of customers as we were just blown away with the overall cabin ambience and more importantly by the space aspect of the new Honda City.
For starters, top model of City comes with smart key that allows you to slip inside without using the key. Now new addition in this convenience aspect is that passenger side has alsogot the request sensor that is excellent and handy touch. Interior colour theme consists of amalgamation of black and beige with silver accents inserted in the dash board and centre console. A part of the centre console also dressed in piano black finish that feels quite upmarket and luxurious. That said, the new City still lacks the cohesiveness and integrity of design theme. The air-convents at centre are placed at different height than the side vents. Music system, AC controls and vents though seem to align in row though the symmetry lack the precision of competitors’ design integrity. Now although these things are not ergonomically faulted, still the aesthetic connectivity between these parts are quite in question.
Coming to equipment list, City comes loaded to the gill as all modern gadgets-gizmos have made their way in this new City. Engine stop-start button, automatic climate control with touch sophistication, music system with DVD/CD/MP3/Radio/Bluetooth/USB/AUX-in, chunky steering wheel with mounted controls, large and very readable instrument cluster, airbags, ABS with EBD, electrically operated OVRMs’ with integrated side-indicators, tilt-adjust sun roof and the list just goes on.
Now if one department we can name where City has an absolute edge over its rivals, it is room and space as City outperforms ever segment higher cars in this space virtue. Front seats are very roomy and hugging as well but it is the rear bench that will blow your mind with its extraordinary space and comfort. Even with front seats stretching all the way to the back, rear bench of new City is heaven with truck-loads of all-around space. Seat pad stretches all the way up to knees giving a very good thigh support while tremendous amount of legroom and knee room gives you choice to sit even with folded knees. Even the head room is quite generous and the chauffer-driven is definitely going to be enjoying their ride at the rear seat of new City.
Voluminous boot space
Coming to trunk space, Honda designers again come with just the ticket with best in class 510 litres of boot space. The loading lip is bit high though the opening aperture is quite wide. Unfortunately the second bench of seat doesn’t fold up but there is quite enough space in the trunk to even swallow up the week long luggage of your trip. Spare tyre is neatly concealed under the boot and is ordinary wheel not an alloy one.
After making a big splash in Amaze, Honda’s 1.5-litre i-DTEC engine from the Earth dreams portfolio is ready to start its fresh inning under the hood of all new City. Although there is petrol choice in terms of i-VTEC gasoline motor carried over from the old City, it is oil-burner that is sure to attract more customers and sales too. Power and torque ratings of City’s diesel is same as of the Amaze as engine packs the punch of 99 horses and 200 Nm of torque; same as of the Amaze. Not only these performance figures are alike to Amaze, the very power delivery also copies the Amaze nature as City shows excellent drivability with apparently absence of any turbo-lag. Refinement however is mediocre by the segment standards and Hyundai’s Vern still leads the pack on this NVH front.
1.5-litre i-DTEC engine
Ambling around in traffic in new City is quite a child’s play as grunt is available right from the start. Even without the use of variable geometry turbocharger as expected, City does reasonably good job with the fixed geometry as there is always more than enough power is available at user’s disposal. So for city driving, Honda’s City is quite a perfect machine.
Even out on the highway, City feels quite relaxed and eager to rev though the sore point of high engine noise is quite evident in this Honda machine too like Amaze. We had expected this City to come with some more noise insulation material especially as this has been a thing of concern in case of Amaze customers. Now despite of mounted criticism, Honda has failed to address this demerit and once you start wide opening this oil-burner, you are sure to get confronted with high engine noise seeping inside the cabin.
Diesel heart of the City is mated with 6-speed manual transmission while there has also been an automatic on offer with the petrol motor. The added overdrive gear in City helps the car to extract extra juice from the diesel and that’s make it India’s most fuel-efficient car with ARAI certified figures of 26 km/l. Gear shift quality, like other Hondas’, is slick and very reassuring though it will take some time for you to get used to this; especially while shifting from 2nd to 3rd and then to 5th one. Clutch is reasonably light and it is at par with the competition. Brakes bite well and ABS with EBD mechanism is sure aid the overall safety aspect of the City.
ZEAL ON WHEEL
Honda continues to use MacPherson strut with coil spring up front and torsion beam axle coil spring at the rear in terms of suspension hardware along the lines of older generation City. 175 mm wide rubber has been shrouded on 15” alloy wheels that simply looks skinny and make the whole look of City under-tyred. At slow speeds, City’s nature is in stark contrast to the current king of segment; Verna as City feels quite stiffly sprung. In comparison to Verna that seems to be gone overboard in terms of excessive soft ride quality, City feels a bit fidgety at lower whack. That said, once the speed increases, City quickly gets its composure back and from then the ride becomes quite excellent. At high speeds, City takes everything in its stride with aplomb and masks all road undulations and scars with finesse. Even the potholes can be approached with least care as suspension seems to take care of big as well as small road dissections.
McPherson up front suspension
On handling front too, City is commendable car and despite being longer than outgoing model, it behaves in quite predictable manner. Even on twisty roads, the chassis feels in line with the controls orders as rear portion quickly traces the line. Further the steering accuracy, braking prowess and small rear three quarter profile helps City to behave like a mature car on the road.
If the prices of Amaze were anything to go by, we expected Honda to price City competitively and we are relieved to find out that company has indeed priced sensitively. OK the price range that starts from Rs 7.42 lakh for base petrol variant to Rs 11.10 for top end VX MT diesel model is not something that can be called exceptional value for money (VFM) but then it doesn’t pinch your bank account sharply either. In fact base petrol is price quite competitively however top end diesel model is a bit prices but then its extra-ordinary equipment list and safety aspect almost justifies its price. New City diesel has been a leap forward in terms of Honda’s assessment and understanding of Indian market. The company has finally changed its track from being arrogant and premium-charging company to now sensibly, listening and a bit value for money making products. Now after generating enough euphoria and hoopla around the launch of City, Honda has got its work cut out. Company has to ramp up the production of City; especially diesel model in order to get the customers’ weaning away from its sedan in case if there is long waiting periods. This is one and only potential deterrent we see at this point of time that may stop the City’s sales ride which otherwise seems to be heading only towards north.
Style& Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics 4/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 3/5