Honda New City
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This Car Has Been Discontinued.
Customer Rating
: 4/5
Expert Rating
: 0/10
: 2 Yrs / 40,000 kms (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
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Strong Areas

  • High stability
  • Rev-happy i-VTEC motor
  • Stylish good looking car
  • AV navigation & DVD player
  • Convenience of auto-version

Weak Areas

  • Top-end pricing 
  • Low ground clearance
  • High loading boot lip
  • Poor driver visibility 
  • Average rear seat space
Honda New City

Honda City Expert Review

Honda out did it self with the third-gen City, which seemed to combine the best of both words. While it retained the practicality of its predecessor, it brought back the excitement that City aficionados remember the original City for. The frugal i-DSI engine was gone, to be replaced with Honda’s high-revving, high-output, but equally efficient i-VTEC motor. But the last City developed a serious Achilles Heel – it had no diesel. Successive petrol Price hikes widened the petrol-diesel price gap and very soon diesel became the flavor of the year. 



ecardlr.com National

The City has been the backbone of Honda’s business in India and with good Reason. When it was firs launched in 1998, the City was the perfect springboard for the Honda brand and, over the years, it cemented the Japanese company’s reputation as that of an incredibly clever carmaker capable of turning out exciting and reliable products.
It’s safe to say that it’s not easy to find an unhappy City customer because successive generations of Honda’s mid-size saloon have raised the bar each time. In fact, each new City has been a game changer in its own right. The first-generation model, with its screaming Hyper 16 engine, was a driver’s delight and though the build quality felt flimsy, it was super reliable and could take a lot of punishment. The second-generation City was radically different, with its cab-forward stance and revolutionary, super-efficient twin-spark i-DSI engine It was diametrically opposite in character to the frisky first-gen model and was cheaper too. No wonder then that it was the best-seller in its class for five straight years. Honda outdid itself with the third-gen City, which seemed to combine the best of both words. While it retained the practicality of its predecessor, it brought back the excitement that City aficionados remember the original City for. The frugal i-DSI engine was gone, to be replaced with Honda’s high-revving, high-output, but equally efficient i-VTEC motor. But the last City developed a serious Achilles Heel – it had no diesel. Successive petrol Price hikes widened the petrol-diesel price gap and very soon diesel became the flavor of the year. This humbled the once invincible City and Honda knew it had to have a diesel in its arsenal to fight back.
The i-DTEC engine borrowed from the Amaze is the talking point of the new City, because it is the first diesel motor in this model’s history. But there’s more to the fourt-generation City than just a diesel motor. With the demise of the Civic and recently the Accord, the City, for all effective purposes, is now Honda’s flagship in India (the CR-V sells in too small numbers to really count), and the company has thrown everything at it to ensure that it is nothing less than a success.
To achieve that goal, you would have expected to Honda to churn out another ground-breaking desing, just like it did in the past But what you get is styling that is sadkly evolutionary. At the new City’s global debut in Delhi, you could sense the disappointment when the covers came off. Honda has clearly played it safe with the design and didn’t want to ramper with a proven formula.
The new City doesn’t quite break the mould, and the first impression is that of a facelift. But it feels more grown up that the previous model and is no doubt a good looker.
Ignore the glaring band of chrome on the grille for a second and you will agree that the slim and superbly detailed two-part headlights look great. The racy ‘Arrow Shot’ profile of the earlier City is also in use here, but the new model looks bigger and site more confidently on the ground, despite its skinny tyres. That says a lot for a design that, dimensionally, is not much bigger than the outgoing car.
Honda has used distinctive design element in the new City, which the company says is part of its newly developed ‘Exciting H’ design language. The bumpers are better formed with sharp creases, and the strong character liens running through the flanks give the new City a more dynamic look, which frankly cries out for larger wheels and tyres. The tail-lamps, which bear resembleance to past Civic, are wide and spill over into the boot lid. This accentuates the 1,695mm width of the car and gives it an upmarket touch.
Underpinning the new City is an all-new platform, that is 24 percent stiffer than before. It’s lighter too, and the City weighs a good 45kg less thant he outgoing model (spec-for-spec), although he CVT version is lighter than the earlier automatic by a considerable 75kg. Honda has employed several weight-saving measures, like higher-tensile steel in the body and lightweight suspension parts. Moving the fuel tank back to the conventional position under the rear seat has also saved weight (and cost), as it reduces the fuel line plumbing. The rationale is that, unlike the jazz (which still suses a centrally mounted tank), the City’s rear seats are fixed and hence there is no value in freeing up the space below them. The raised section below the City’s front seats (to accommodate a central fuel tank) indicates that this part of the platform is merely shared with the jazz.
The new City uses conventional MacPherson struts up front and a twist-beam axle at the rear. We thought Honda would have upgraded the brakes with discs at the rear, but what you get instead are slightly larger drums. In its quest for fuel efficiency, Honda has stuck with narrow 175/65 R15 tyres, which comes as another disappointment, but Kazunori Watanabe, the Large Project Leader, explains, “ Our aim to have the best fuel efficiency; we could not have achieved that with bigger tyres.”
In fact, fuel efficiency on the official Indian Driving Cycle is class leading for all variants, with the Petrol manual and CVT returning 17.8kpl and 17.9kpl respectively, whilst the diesel returns a miserly 26kpl, making it the most fuel-efficient car in the country! How did Honda manage to make the City Honda manage to make the City more fuel efficient than even the lighter Amaze? “Superior aerodynamics and specially developed, low-rolling-resistance tyres played a big role,” says Watanabe. Newly developed hub bearing with lower friction helped too.
The new City’s ground clearance of 165mm may seem insufficient, especially since the earlier car had a reputation for grounding over speed breakers. However, Honda assures us that the actual ground clearance is in fact better with the redesigned underbody.
If the new City’s styling doesn’t seem like a huge leap forward, you need to stip into the cabin to see where Honda has concentrated its efforts. It appears that Honda is hell bent on outdoing its key rival, the Hyundai Verna at its own game – by showering customers with equipment. The pampering starts from the moment you slip into the typically low driving position and grab the exquisitely chunky wheel, which has well-damped switches for music and telephony that wouldn’t be out of place in a CR-V.
The all-new dashboard and all the equipment stuffed into its rather kitschy design is what draws your attention. The instruments for the driver are superbly legible, but the way their surround glow blue or green (depending on your driving style) is a bit gimmicky. The black and beige finish with a sliver ‘T’ running across the dash looks very rich, but compared to its European rivals, the design isn’t cohesive or consistent, with lots of elements at play. The five-inch  LCD display that is the monitor for a reversing camera and doubles up as the interface or the eight-speaker music system (with a CD player reinstate after customer feedback) looks lost in the vast piano black surface of the centre console, and the air-con vents don’t  look like they have a uniform design.
The touchscreen for the air-conditioning is fantastic to use and is not just a segment first, but also an answer to City critics (this magazine included) who panned the clunky air-con knobs in the previous car. However, the touch screen looks strangely fogged up and its low position makes you take your eye off the road. In terms of equipment, the new City has it all. A start/stop button, sunroof, cruise control, steering-mounted controls, electric folding mirrors and rear AC vents are standard on the top-spec VX version. All variants get ABS, EBD and two airbags as standard. Richer plastics for the dashboard would have hit the sweet spot though.
The long equipment list is only half the story. It’s the amazing space and comfort the new City offers that really indulges you. The seats are easily the most comfortable we have experienced in the mid-size saloon segment and Honda has seriously toiled in making it so. A lot of development time was spend optimizing the foam density for seat and, in fact, by achieving the perfect cushioning, Honda could opto for a slightly stiffer suspension set-up without hurting comfort.
The driving position is a bit ‘legs stretched out’, the gear lever is a bit too far forward and the dashboard is a bit too high by Honda standard (owners of the first-generation City will know what we are talking about), but these are small grouses in an otherwise first-rate driving position.
The magic of the new City’s packing is best experienced at the back, where it feels like the wheelbase has been stretched by 50cm and not 50mm! There’s an incredible amount of knee room and again, the lavish seat cushions give you comfort levels of a luxury car. The back seat is good for three people too, thanks to a flat floor and wide cabin, which according to Honda is 40mm wider than before. Headroom is not very generous though, possibly because the rear seats are set higher than the front and have thus eaten into vertical space. Also, the small headrests aren’t the best to protect you from whiplash injury.
How did Honda manage to carve out so much space from a car that isn’t that much bigger than its predecessor? Apart from the wheelbase extensions, an all-new electric power steering system free up space in the front, whilst the rear parcel shelf has been moved up (which spoils rearward visibility) to release a few more inches both in the cabin and in the boot. Speaking of the boot, the 510-litre capacity is quite generous and it has a practical shape, but the load lip is a touch high.
Honda is making a sharp distinction between its petrol and diesel engines, and does not want to blur the characteristics of the two. Hence the diesel engine is all about practicality with fuel efficiency and drive ability taking priority over performance. If its performance you want, that’s what the free-revving i-VTEC engine is there for. For those who want the convenience of an automatic, of an automatic, there’s the CVT option too. And before you ask, there’s no plan to launch an automatic version of the diesel City.
Our interest centred around diesel City because this is the first time Honda’s mid-sizer has an oil-burner under its hood. We knew that it would be the same 1.5-i-DTEC engine from the Amaze, but were more than curious to know how it would perform in the bigger sibling.
Honda enthusiasts may lament the fact that there’s no bump up in power and torque, with figures identical to the smaller Amaze. Honda hasn’t opted for the Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) that this engine (in  1.6-litre guise) comes with in Europe and has stuck to the fixed-geometry unit. Again, Honda’s focus is simple; concentrate on low-end power delivery and make the driving experience easy rather than exciting. To this end, the City does a fantastic job. This is the most responsive diesel engine in its class, with minimal turbo lag. It pulls cleanly from under 2,000rpm in one seamless surge to a modest 4,000rpm. This isn’t a high-revving diesel, there’s no sudden spike in power and the mid-range certainly isn’t as punchy as in the Vento or Verna diesels. We recorded a 0-1000kph time of 13.92 seconds which, though not to our test standards, gave an indication of the City diesel’s pace. It’s 1.4sec slower than the lighter Amaze, but a good 2.62 and 3.38 seconds away from the Vento and Verna respectively. In the 20-80kph dash, which is what counts in the real world, the City does a respectable job, posting a time of 12.51 seconds, which is actually quicker than the Amaze and even the Verna.
The city diesel gets a six-speed manual gearbox (the Amaze has a five-speed), which has nice, short and snappy throws. The additional ratio gives the City long legs and complements the car’s relaxed persona at around 100kph, the engine is ticking along at just over 2,000rpm.
Some owners might feel short-changed by the performance or lack thereof, but as a car to dodge traffic everyday or be chauffer driven in, Honda’s philosophy of making the car is efficient and smooth as possible above everything else has a lot of merit.
Honda engineers claim that additional noise insulation material has been used, along with other tweaks to the engine, to make it quieter than the Amaze and in line with class standard. Sadly, Honda hasn’t been able to mute the all-aluminium motor sufficiently, and the noticeable diesel drone, especially at high revs, is the biggest flaw of this motor.
There are no refinement issues with the City petrol, which employs the same 1.5-litre –VTEC engine as its predecessor. Power and torque outputs are near identical, but this motor has been given a few tweaks to enhance performance and efficiency. It now gets low-friction pistons, a cooling system that’s been redesigned to warm the engine up faster, and double-needle spark plugs have improved combustion.
Driving the City petrol reminded us of the incredible flexibility of the i-VTEC engine, which feels even more elastic with change is the valve timing. It pulls cleanly from low revs all the way past 7,000rpm in one near seamless sweep. The engine seems to get a second wind around 4,600rpm with the variable valve timing coming into play, and from then on it’s a mad sprint to the redline.
What’s amazing is how docile this engine can also be, and in fact it’s the tractable nature of the engine that allows Honda to get away with tall gearing. Second gear, which is good for 100kph, is a particularly effective overtaking tool. With a superior power-to-weight ratio, the new City feels a bit sprightlier 0-100kph time of 10.2 seconds makes it seriously quick for its class. The slick gearshift (which is even lighter than the i-DTEC’s) simply heightens the joy of slamming the next cog home at the redline. At high revs, the engine gets vocal, but in a sporty sort of way Honda has ditched the conventional five-speed torque converter-driver automatic for a CVT in the fourth-generation City, and fuel efficiency was the main consideration for the switch. Again, enthusiasts won’t like a CVT because of the unpleasant rubber band effect, but for city driving, Honda’s new-generation CVT feels quite direct and responsive. It’s only when you stab the throttle open that you get that sudden rise in revs with no matching burst of acceleration. For highway use, it’s best to put the CVT in ‘S’ mode or switch to manual via the paddle shifters to minimize the slippage.
Within the first 100 metres of driving the new City, you can tell that it’s dynamically far superior to the outgoing model. With each generation, electric power steering (EPS) systems improve dramatically, and this is evident in the new City. The EPS is much more direct and accurate, and feels weightier than before at speed. But the steering has a certain numbness to it and doesn’t quite have the feel of the Fiesta’s EPS, which is still the class best.
What impressed us about the City is its superb high-speed stability. If feels very predictable and doesn’t get easily unsettled. But what surprised us was the levels of grip on those skinny MRF tyres, which hang on tenaciously through corners. The City has pleasingly neutral handling with a hint of understeer, which allows even average drivers enjoy driving it quickly.
The relatively stiff suspension is one of the reasons the City feels so planted at high speed. It soaks up bad roads and delivers an impressively flat ride on uneven surfaces. At low speeds, you can feel a touch of lumpiness and sharp edges do thump through. And we are happy to report that over the speed breakers we encountered in Jaipur, there were no ground clearance issues.
So Honda’s fourth-generation City is undoubtedly its most complete package yet. Its back seat will pamper passengers and the equipment list will rewrite expectations. However, it is the responsive and frugal motors that will form the bedrock for the City’s assault on the mid-size saloon category. All that remains to be seen is whether Honda will price the City more aggressive than before. Company sources say that it is pegged head on against the Verna, which means an estimated price range of Rs 8.5 lakh to Rs 11 lakh. The new Honda City goes on sale in January.

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