All that could be a thing of the past now. The new City, designed and developed in India, for India will soon go on sale, and that obviously will be in India first. Above all, it’s now available in diesel as well. More on that in a bit.
First, the styling. It builds on the design elements of the outgoing model. While the front retains the earlier model’s shape, it now gets a more prominent chromed grille, sharper looking bumper, new bonnet lines and headlamps. But in profile, you’ll likely mistake it for the older model. Its all too evolutionary. The front-end design.
The rear styling looks as if the designers penciled it off after a refreshing summer break. The new wider tail lights extending into the boot lid, and the reprofiled bumper give the City a slightly broader-looking rear end. If the exterior changes leave you cold, the interior will certainly not disappoint. This is an all-new cabin, with more upmarket feel and better use of materials. The newly designed dashboard, piano black finish around the music system, touch-screen air-con controls, all look refreshing.
Also impressive is the amount of space inside. Along with the all-new platform and extended wheelbase, smarter packaging has freed up more space for both, passengers and their luggage. The City now gets better leg-, knee- and shoulder room than before, the seats, as usual, are comfortable, and the rear passengers now get their own AC vents.
For the City, there's a new diesel motor - it’s the same 1.5-litre i-DTEC from the Amaze, with a similar power output of 98.6bhp and 200Nm of max torque. But don’t be disheartened – the City comes with a newly developed six-speed manual gearbox that promises better driveability in our conditions. The other engine is the one we know well, the 1.5-litre i-VTEC carried over from the earlier model in a similar state of tune, churning out 117bhp and 145Nm. It will have the option of a five-speed manual and a CVT gearbox.
Driving the top-end diesel variant after my initial apprehensions about teaming up a 99bhp motor with a full-fledged sedan, it turned out to be a decent outing. Power is available from 1,500rpm and even after the turbo comes to life, it’s delivered in a linear fashion. The new six-speed gearbox is Honda-smooth, the gears slotting in with precision. And in the interest of fuel economy, Honda has gone in for shorter gear ratios, so driving around town in third or fourth gear is quite manageable. It’s only on the highway that you feel the diesel motor lacks that extra punch.
You do have to work around the gearbox, and overtaking fast traffic on the highway isn’t the easiest thing to do. Although the City goes past the 140kph-mark, you do feel it’s running out of breath from there on. The motor pulls cleanly, if not rapidly, from 1,800rpm and goes to its redline of 4,000rpm, but then the engine gets louder and it doesn’t sound great inside the cabin. Honda has improved NVH levels on the City and it does a decent job of leaving the diesel clatter out of the cabin. But we wish Honda had done more to refine this diesel motor for the City.
Pros: - ivtec engine is peppy, powerful and highly responsive - space is as good as a d-segment sedan - equipped with class leading features such as cruise control, touchscreen climate control, rear ac vents, abs, airbags etc. - Class leading boot space - 510 litres - Decent mileage - 10 (metro city); 14 (on highways) - Good handling at high speeds
Cons: - Steering is only tilt not telescopic ...difficult to find the sweet spot sitting position - front seats under-thigh support is ordinary - finishing (panel fitment, spacing, material) sub-par when compared to a car like vento - Steering lacks road feedback
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