Honda City Facelift Review | How Much Has It Improved?
Published On Mar 09, 2023 By CarDekho for Honda City
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With more features and exterior changes, the updated Honda City has created a lot of excitement. But does it live up to the promise?
2023 promises to be a comeback year for Honda in India. The biggest promise comes in the form of the Hyundai Creta-rivalling compact SUV which will hit our shores by the middle of this year. However, to kick things off the marque has updated its mainstay in India, the Honda City. Even today, the Honda City is still the best-selling car in the compact sedan segment and for 2023 it has been given an update. So, are the updates significant enough to make the City ownership experience better?
On the outside Honda has made some cosmetic changes to help the City look more sporty and aggressive than before. Up front you get a more pronounced honeycomb grille and the chrome strip above it is now slimmer and isn't as in-your-face as the old car. The chiselled new front bumper looks sporty and you also get a faux carbon-fibre finish on the chin which although not genuine, doesn’t look tacky. The full LED headlamps remain unchanged and ADAS variants also come with auto high beam which helps avoid blinding oncoming traffic.
The rear design remains almost unchanged except for the body-coloured boot lid spoiler and the sporty rear bumper. The bumper now looks slimmer thanks to the blacked lower portion and just like in the front, here too you will find faux carbon-fibre elements. In profile the Honda City remains unchanged, except for the new design for the 16-inch alloy wheels. Honda has also added a new Obsidian Blue colour to the car’s paint palette which looks fantastic.
The interior of the updated Honda City remains unchanged. So, you get the dash design which looks elegant rather than sporty and just like before, the interior has the best-in-segment quality. All the touch points are finished in high quality soft-touch materials and the way the rotary knobs for the climate controls click and the control stalks function is of very high quality. In terms of changes, now you get carbon-fibre-finish inserts on the dash of the hybrid variant which looks quite cool.
Up front the City performs really well in terms of practicality. You get four different spaces to keep your phone under the centre console, you also get two well-designed cup holders, large door pockets and some space under the front armrest. Now, you also get a wireless phone charger, but in the standard petrol variant the placement is flawed.
The problem is, you can either wirelessly charge your phone or have a coffee as the charger takes up the space for the cup holder. However, this is not a problem in the Hybrid variant as the charger is placed behind the drive selector lever as you get an electronic parking brake instead of a conventional manual one in the standard variant.
Honda has also updated the eight-inch infotainment system. Although the graphics and layout remain unchanged, it now sports a brighter, higher resolution display and now you also get different themes and colour options on this unit. Honda has also added wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality to the system, which, in our experience, worked seamlessly. The reversing camera is also better and just like before, you get different views to make parking easy.
The part digital and part analogue instrumentation has also been updated. It is brighter and now also displays ADAS functionality. Like before it is extremely easy to use and with the help of the steering-mounted controls you can go through various functions with ease.
The rear seat of the Honda City is still great when it comes to space and comfort. You get loads of space on the inside with more kneeroom and shoulder room is decent as well. Headroom, however, is not that generous and tall people will find it to be a bit tight. In terms of convenience features, you get two AC vents and two 12-volt charging ports. Unfortunately you don’t get a USB charging port here but do get a 12-volt charging port button.
Talking about storage spaces, the rear seatback pockets are well thought out with the main area being large and you also get separate pockets to store your phone or wallet. The door pockets are large too and you get two cup holders in the centre armrest. The rear windscreen also comes with a sunblind, but the rear side windows don't get the same.
When it comes to boot space, the Honda City’s standard variant has a large 506-litre boot which is deep and very well shaped. The Hybrid version’s boot however is much smaller at 410 litres as the battery pack takes up a lot of space. You also don’t get a full-size spare wheel in the Hybrid variant.
Engine and Performance
With the update, the Honda City won’t be available with a diesel engine anymore. So, you get two petrol engine options, the first of which is powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine making 121PS of power and mated to either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic. The second one is the strong-hybrid which, overall with the electric motor and the internal combustion engine, makes 126PS.
Let's start off with the standard 1.5-litre engine first. This is a responsive engine with good drivability. You can cruise at low speeds in third or even fourth gear and even when you want quick acceleration, the motor responds without any hesitation. As a result, its performance is effortless as gear shifts are kept to a minimum. The gear shifts too are slick and the light and progressive clutch makes driving in the city a comfortable affair. This motor though does get noisy when worked hard and it also lacks the outright punch that is offered by the turbo-petrol rival cars like the VW Virtus and Skoda Slavia. You also get a CVT option with the engine. It will prove to be a great option for people who mainly drive in the city but in terms of fun it won’t really excite you.
If you want a peppier car to drive then our choice will definitely be the strong-hybrid. At low speeds it gives you instant acceleration which makes overtaking at low speeds easy and also it feels a lot more refined and smooth as about 60 per cent of the time, at low speeds, it Is running on pure EV mode. Even at higher speeds the Hybrid variant packs a punch which makes it versatile as it feels at home be it at low or high speeds.
Thanks to it running in EV mode most of the time, expect phenomenal fuel efficiency. Be it in bumper to bumper traffic or highway cruising expect efficiency well in excess of 20kmpl!
Except for the base SV variant, now you get ADAS as standard on the Honda City. This camera-based system, in our experience, works well and comes with features like emergency brake assist, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Compared to cars like the MG Astor, it does miss out on blind spot monitoring system.
Although this is a well-tuned system, in our chaotic driving conditions, occasionally it does get confused. Driving on a crowded street, it is safer to turn off the emergency brake assist as the system is quite sensitive to cars getting close or people walking on the road as the system brakes all of a sudden which can catch cars following you by surprise.
Even while using adaptive cruise control the gap between the car in front of you is enough for someone to barge in your lane which causes the system to brake all of a sudden which gets quite annoying. These issues are not just limited to the Honda City but to every car that comes equipped with ADAS technology.
Ride and Handling
When it comes to ride quality, the Honda City impresses. At low speeds the suspension feels pliant and refined. Small imperfections are taken with ease and even hard-edged potholes are dealt with confidence as the suspension goes about doing its job silently.
At higher speeds too the Honda City feels rock solid and very stable in a straight line. Ride quality too is comfortable as it doesn't get unsettled by bumps or undulations at higher speeds.
In terms of handling, like before, the City feels involving to drive. It turns eagerly into corners as it feels agile and willing and even the steering has just the right amount of weight because of which you can actually have some fun behind the wheel.
Overall, with the update, the Honda City has become a more attractive package. Thanks to the well thought out variant lineup, as a buyer it is now easier to choose your ideal version as all the variants come well-equipped. The changes that Honda has done to the sedan’s exterior does make the City more appealing. Other strong suites of the Honda City remain, like the spacious and comfortable cabin, high quality interior, a long features list, fun handling and comfortable ride quality.
The sedan segment surely is hotting up! The Skoda Slavia, VW Virtus are new and the brand-new Hyundai Verna is right around the corner. Soon, we will be doing a full-fledged comparison! Stay tuned!.