We won't deny admitting that SUVs are all the rage these days, but with the City having been around for more than 22 years, it is still a popular choice among Indian car buyers. It all started way back in 1998 and the City is currently in its 5th generation avatar. Every model, since the first-gen car, has had its share of success. However, the lack of a diesel engine option meant there were certain buyers who were put off by the fact. The 4th generation model, however, received a diesel engine, making it the most successful City – and Honda has carried forward an updated version of the same engine on to the 5th-generation City. Also, the 5th-gen model is newly engineered from bolt to body, sharing no similarities with the old car. The new car gets more high-tensile-strength steel and a stiffer roof section. The body shell is also lighter than before, but the weight of the car, by and large, is 40kgs more, resulting in better stiffness, sound insulation and safety.
The new City is also bigger, with more interior space offered and gets more features like Alexa voice assistant integration and a lane watch camera. Beneath the bonnet lies a new DOHC 1.5-litre petrol engine, paired to a 6-speed manual or a CVT gearbox. The 1.5-litre diesel model too, gets a 6-speed manual 'box. Given the rivalry in this segment, the City will have to deliver, and how – particularly considering Hyundai's Verna and Maruti Ciaz, which have been equally strong contenders in the segment.
A fresh new look
Looking at the new Honda City, evolution is very evident. Although nothing of the new design reflects the old car's look, the silhouette does remind you of the 4th-generation model. The wheelbase remains untouched, but it is longer, wider and lower than before. At the front, it gets a broad chrome bar, which has been a thing among new Honda Cars these last few years. The headlamps look sharp, sporting many reflectors and modern details, making it look distinctive from the front. The sheer length of the car is prominent, but we think it has lost its proportionate look. The chunky bumper looks fine, but the raised bonnet takes away some of its appeal. The City's 16-inch alloy wheels look small, while the character line alongside gives it some muscle. We do like the three-dimensional-looking tail lamps with smoked-out detailing. The well shaped rear bumper sports vertical reflector strips, neatly integrated in the bumper. Not a head-turner, this - but its clean look will leave many impressed.
It's all-new here
The cabin of the Honda City looks premium with the light brown and black combination. Plastic quality seems good, but we'd have liked soft-touch materials instead. The light brown leather has been used rather generously on the seats, central console, doors, and dashboard panel. The entire layout of the dashboard is nicely done and the shapely seats look great and provide good cushioning and support. Back-seat comfort and space is class-leading and the wide seat will accommodate three abreast with aplomb – and all three get three-point seat belts and head restraints. Tall passengers may have trouble with headroom at the back, while there is no shortage of storage areas. Boot space, at 506 litres, is massive. In terms of equipment, it features a lane watch camera, a rear-view camera with normal, wide and top view, a sunroof, auto climate control, curtain airbags, Alexa voice assistant integration, steering-mounted audio controls and an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
Naturally aspiration still works
The 1.5-litre petrol engine works like a charm and pulls strongly. The motor revs freely until 7,000rpm and the motor is flexible, resulting is good performance; what's more, the Honda City is that bit more frugal than before. The CVT model has the typical rubberband effect, but works well for everyday driving with the climb in revs matching the climb in speed. Stomp down the throttle and that's when the engine feels like it is being stretched, making the revs rise and the car, in the meanwhile, finding it difficult to cope with the promptness of the throttle inputs. Thank fully, there are paddle-shifters, allowing you to take manual control of the gearshifts.
The suspension is softer than before, which helps matters with ride quality. It seems to take road imperfections in its stride and the car stays flat and composed at three-digit speeds. But we won't recommend pushing it too much, because it lacks confidence, making you hold on to the steering with a firm grip. Also, grab the latest info on the new cars, only at autoX.