Honda City Expert Review

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Introduction

The Honda City continues to be the brand’s highest-selling model in India. In fact, out of the 100 countries it is sold in worldwide, India accounts for the highest sales numbers. The model has established itself as one of the most sought after cars in the country, with four generations being offered since 1998.

The City name is a sub-brand in itself and it gets a big list of features, efficient engines and Honda’s brand value. It has just received a facelift that adds some more value to the package. Is it a proposition worth considering? Time to find out.

Pros
  • Long list of features – LED headlights and tail lights, touchscreen infotainment system, touch-panel for automatic climate control etc.
  • Dual-airbags, ABS with EBD and ISOFIX offered as standard safety features.
  • Well-designed, spacious, practical and comfortable interior.
  • Both engines are very fuel-efficient and are easy to drive in the city.
Cons
  • The Amaze derived diesel motor lacks refinement and performance figures are lower than the competition.
  • Rear seat headroom isn’t ideal for tall passengers.
  • Pricing is noticeably higher than its arch rival – the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz

Stand Out Features

  • First-in-segment full LED headlights.

    First-in-segment full LED headlights.

  • 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Wi-Fi and MirrorLink.

    7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Wi-Fi and MirrorLink.

  • 6 airbags offered on the top-end ZX variant.

    6 airbags offered on the top-end ZX variant.

CarDekho Verdict

Even with the facelift, the City retains its core strengths. It’s still the same comfortable, reliable, spacious and easy to own car as before, but what Honda aimed to do is fill in a few holes in the package. Has it done that? Yes, whether it’s a matter of safety or adding some desirable features so the City can cater to modern buyer demands, Honda has almost perfected the City’s positioning as a great all-rounder.

"It’s still the same comfortable, reliable, spacious and easy to own car as before."

The changes are enough to make sure the City’s status as segment leader continues for now and it can look its rivals straight in the eye. But is it significantly better than its rivals? Not quite.

Background & Evolution

The roots of the Honda City in India go way back to 1998 which marked Honda’s entry into the mid-size sedan segment. In its latest edition, the City introduced Honda’s H design philosophy  in India which will be adopted by all its products in the future. Read all about the evolution of the Honda City here.

Exterior

The Honda City is a classy looking sedan and the facelift adds some sporty touches. Up front, the chrome grille is slimmer and gets a black honeycomb mesh behind. The headlamps have been restyled as well, and now sport LED daytime running lights and first-in-segment LED headlights. Additionally, the front bumper is new and apart from featuring smaller fog lamp enclosures, the fog lights themselves are LED units.

The boring old alloy wheels have not only been redesigned, but upsized as well. So, on the top-two variants, you get a new set of 16-inch wheels. The design may be not be to everyone’s taste, though. The lower variants get a new set of 15-inch wheels too.

The City facelift looks the most distinctive from the rear, mainly because of the new tail lights that now feature dual-tone (red and clear-lens) detailing on the top-end model. No surprises that the tail lights are LEDs too, as is the stop light that’s integrated into the new rear spoiler. Believe it or not, even the number plate is illuminated with LEDs! The rear bumper’s new as well and gets a black honeycomb insert that makes the City’s rear look leaner.

Exterior Comparison

Volkswagen Vento Honda City
Length (mm) 4390 4440
Width (mm) 1699 1695
Height (mm) 1467 1495
Ground Clearance (mm) 163 165
Wheel Base (mm) 2553 2600
Kerb Weight (kg) 1213Kg 1150
 

Boot Space Comparison

Honda City Volkswagen Vento
Volume 510-litres 494-liters
 

Interior

On the inside, the black-beige-silver theme is elegant and the overall quality is quite good, though, a few more soft-touch plastics would’ve been nice. However, with the facelift, Honda has plugged a few gaps in the cabin.

So the steering now gets the added advantage of reach adjustment (only tilt earlier), which helps you find that perfect driving position with a lot more ease. The sunroof, which was already available, gets the one touch operation for some added convenience.

Additionally, you now get an interior rear-view mirror that’s not only auto-dimming, but frameless as well. Even the starter button gets some new backlighting which makes it look more distinctive, while the instrument cluster’s dials now glow white (earlier blue).

Honda has also thrown in additional kit like auto-headlamps and auto-wipers - something that its rival, the Hyundai Verna already offered. Of course, following the exterior lighting theme, you get LED map lights up front and LED reading lamps at the rear in the range-topping ZX variant.

The cabin is still uber-spacious as ever. 5 occupants can fit in with ease and two six-footers can sit one behind the other. The only problem is that tall occupants will find themselves wanting for better rear seat headroom and while the cabin is wide, the middle occupant won’t be too comfortable over long journeys because of the raised centre section of the rear bench and slightly protruding armrest console. On the plus-side, the rear headrests are now adjustable, but the feature is limited to the top-end ZX variant only.

Performance

The updated City is mechanically identical to the outgoing version, so you still get the same 1.5-litre petrol (119PS/145Nm) and diesel (100PS/200Nm) engines. The petrol gets a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the option of a CVT automatic with paddle-shifters, while the diesel only gets a six-speed manual gearbox.

The diesel engine was infamous for its high noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. Honda claims the problem has been worked on in the facelift, but it’s still not up to the mark. Whatever improvement has been made is marginal and the engine still lacks the kind of refinement levels you’d expected at this price. Vibrations can still be felt through the steering and pedals and engine does take away from the car’s otherwise premium feel.

However, the engine’s low-end torque is great and the motor offers great driveability even before the turbo kicks in. There’s barely any throttle input needed to drive at city speeds and power delivery, even when the turbo kicks in, is very smooth. The City diesel is an efficient urban-commuter and highway cruiser, but it isn’t fun to drive like the rev-happy petrol.

The petrol, on the other hand, is refined and is very engaging to use. You can take it easy and get a good fuel-economy or rev it hard to have some fun. It’s easily among the most well-rounded petrol engines in the segment.

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Honda City Volkswagen Vento
Power 98.6bhp@3600rpm 108.5bhp@4000rpm
Torque (Nm) 200Nm@1750rpm 250Nm@1500-3000rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1498 1498
Transmission Manual Automatic
Top Speed (kmph) 175 Kmph 180 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 10 Seconds 11.07 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1165kg 1233kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 25.6kmpl 21.5kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 84.63519313304721 bhp/ton 87.99675587996755 bhp/ton
 

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Honda City Volkswagen Vento
Power 117.3bhp@6600rpm 103.5bhp@5000rpm
Torque (Nm) 145Nm@4600rpm 175Nm@1500-4100rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1497 1197
Transmission Automatic Automatic
Top Speed (kmph) 195 Kmph 185 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 10 Seconds 12.3 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1085kg 1179Kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 18.0kmpl 18.19kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 108.11059907834101 bhp/ton 87.78625954198472 bhp/ton

Ride and Handling

The City’s suspension strikes a good balance between comfort and stability. Under most driving conditions, the ride quality is good and it can handle the average Indian road quite well, while it’s steady at high speeds too. However, the suspension is a bit noisy over broken patches of road and if you hit a pothole, it will be felt in the cabin.

The City, as its name suggests, is about easy urban mobility. So the steering is super-light and makes maneuvering through traffic a breeze. The steering is quite direct too and the handling mannerisms are very predictable even for inexperienced drivers. However, at high-speeds, we do wish the steering weighed-up a bit more and unfortunately, there isn’t much feedback either. It’s a good car for a driving enthusiast, but not the best.

Off-Road Ability

With 165mm of ground clearance, the City can manage a few medium-sized potholes at best. It is not an off-roader by any means.

Luxury Factor

The Honda City’s airy cabin adds to the sense of space. The beige interior, while prone to staining easily, looks premium, while the chrome touches are tasteful. The dashboard gets a T-shaped silver accent that adds to the upmarket look, while a few more silver touches on the door pads and centre console enhance the experience. Thoughtful touches like armrests at the front and rear help improve cabin comfort, while unique elements like the LED map lights and reading lights make the car feel unique on the inside.

Technology

Honda India’s R&D division has developed a new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display labelled the ‘Digipad’. It runs on an Android-based operating system and is very user-friendly. Apart from the larger screen size, the unit comes with the added advantage of MirrorLink and Wi-Fi connectivity. Since you do have 2 USB ports, one can be used for running the apps offered in MirrorLink, provided you have a MirrorLink enabled phone. While MirrorLink does offer added benefits (e.g. music player and navigation app), the number of apps available is limited when compared to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay – both of which, the new Hyundai Verna is expected to get.

The Wi-Fi connectivity option lets you connect to a Wi-Fi source nearby (say, your phone’s hotspot), to operate functions through the browser app. Once connected, you can access any website directly through the infotainment display. It’s also useful for receiving live traffic updates on the in-built navigation system (SD card-based/by MapMyIndia). Additionally, the setup gets voice command recognition for the navigation system, entertainment and telephony systems. Other features of the infotainment system include an SD card slot for media files, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, 1.5GB of internal memory and an HDMI port. The eight-speaker sound system is the same as before and the sound quality continues to be impressive.

Safety

The car’s safety package is even better than before. Dual airbags and ABS come as standard, but you also get rear seat ISOFIX child seat mounts right from the base variant. Also, considering how not only rivals like the Verna, but more affordable cars like the Figo, Elite i20 and Aspire get them, you now have side and curtain airbags on the top-end ZX grade.

Safety Comparison

Volkswagen Vento Honda City
Airbags righticonClose righticonClose
ABS righticonClose righticonClose
EBD righticonClose righticonClose

Variants

  • Diesel
  • Petrol
Variants Features Price
i-DTEC SV Cruise Control, Power-folding ORVM, Audio Controls On Steering, 10.84 Lakh*
i-DTEC V [ In adition to i-DTEC SV ] Push-button Start/Stop, 15-inch Alloy Wheels, Touchscreen Infotainment, [ Variant i-DTEC SV price ] + 79,285 =  11.63 Lakh*
i-DTEC VX [ In adition to i-DTEC V ] 16-inch Alloy Wheels, LED Headlamps, Sunroof, [ Variant i-DTEC V price ] + 1,29,830 =  12.93 Lakh*
i-DTEC ZX [ In adition to i-DTEC VX ] Adjustable Rear Headrests, Side And Curtain Airbags, Trunk-lid Spoiler, [ Variant i-DTEC VX price ] + 69,377 =  13.62 Lakh*
Variants Features Price
i-VTEC S Electrically Adjustable ORVM, LED DRLs, Dual Airbags And ABS, 8.58 Lakh*
i-VTEC SV [ In adition to i-VTEC S ] Audio Controls On Steering, Power-folding ORVM, Cruise Control, [ Variant i-VTEC S price ] + 1,03,072 =  9.61 Lakh*
i-VTEC V [ In adition to i-VTEC SV ] Touchscreen Infotainment, 15-inch Alloy Wheels, Push-button Start/Stop, [ Variant i-VTEC SV price ] + 38,705 =  10.0 Lakh*
i-VTEC CVT V [ In adition to i-VTEC V ] All Features Of V Variant, CVT Transmission, [ Variant i-VTEC V price ] + 1,59,511 =  11.59 Lakh*
i-VTEC VX [ In adition to i-VTEC CVT V ] 16-inch Alloy Wheels, LED Headlamps, Sunroof, [ Variant i-VTEC CVT V price ] + 10,901 =  11.7 Lakh*
i-VTEC CVT VX [ In adition to i-VTEC VX ] All Features Of VX Variant, CVT Transmission, [ Variant i-VTEC VX price ] + 1,18,929 =  12.89 Lakh*
i-VTEC CVT ZX [ In adition to i-VTEC CVT VX ] Adjustable Rear Headrests, Side And Curtain Airbags, Trunk-lid Spoiler, [ Variant i-VTEC CVT VX price ] + 67,394 =  13.57 Lakh*

The Honda City is offered in 5 variants – S, SV, V, VX and ZX. The base variant is quite well-equipped and gets a good list of features, including dual airbags and ABS with EBD, along with power windows, power-adjustable wing-mirrors, keyless entry, a music system that includes Bluetooth connectivity, four-speakers, ISOFIX and a rear defogger. However, this variant is only available with the petrol engine and manual transmission.

The ZX grade gets nice tech like 6 airbags, LED interior lights and LED tail lights, along with auto-headlamps and wipers. However, this variant is not available with the petrol manual transmission.

The most value-for-money variant is the mid-range V grade. It gets a touchscreen infotainment system, 15-inch alloy wheels, push-button starter, smart-key and an eight-speaker sound system too. The VX variant is quite tempting, as it gets 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, LED headlights and fog lights, leather upholstery and adds reach-adjustability to the steering wheel. The Rs 1.30-1.65 lakh price premium for these features is expected, but the added features aren’t need-based, though they add some convenience and novelty.

Honda City similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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