Honda City: Benchmark Re-Written

Published on January 21st, 2015

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The Honda City has been with us for 5 generations and is going strong with each generation to come. Now with the latest generation, it still provides and rewrites the benchmark of what a B-segment city car should aspire to.

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Now the City has been at the forefront of its class for generations with the first model coming out from the 80’s it sure is bound to be the market leader and the aspiration that most b-segment cars aspire to. What the City offers that seems to attract interest is how it has been packaged throughout the generation.

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Yes although the first 2 generations of the car is more of a compact car similar to what the Honda Jazz is but after the re-alignment of the model back in the 90’s with it being the sedan version of the Honda Jazz, it still does provide an attractive package with a small yet deceptively roomy cabin inside while maintaining its compact proportions outside. Now let’s take a look at what the new Honda City has to offer.

Exterior

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With the new Honda City the overall shape is really not a something to shout about as the general shape is more or less a carry-over from the previous generation.

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It can be said that it exudes a more upright-ish stance but when looking at the stats from Honda it is a telling difference as everything is extended, the wheelbase, length and height but not the width.

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It prove to be useful as with its name, it would be predominantly used in the city and the width is useful when traversing KL’s notorious back alleys as I could safely agree when negotiating back alleys to avoid KL’s infamous traffic jams. It’s a nippy little thing this.

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The test car provided by Honda Malaysia is specced-up in the snazzy Modulo body kit and 16-inch 185/55 sized wheels. It has to be said that it does enhance the City’s looks somewhat which is dressed with a front lip, rear except for the rear spoiler which ruins the car looks somewhat.

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It could be better complemented with the previous generation boot-lip spoiler as the Modulo spoiler is a bit ah-beng type to me though.

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With it the car looks striking with its Brilliant Sporty Blue Metallic paintjob and surprisingly stylish as it would not look out of place wherever it goes whether it’s the polished valet parking of KL’s high-class establishments or the wet and smelly back alley roads of KL.

Interior

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The Interior is where the change is most striking as soon as you settle into the driving position as the car is quite roomy and exudes a premium feel.

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The thing that strikes you most when settling into the 6th-Generation Honda City is the huge leap in technology over the previous generation Honda City with its 7” touch-screen audio entertainment as well as climate controls.

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Mind you that the test car is of the higher V-spec so you get all the bangs and whistle that Honda has to offer currently with a premium feel to the sounds coming out of the 8-speaker system. The entertainment system itself is something to be of wonder as it is equipped with touch screen controls with inputs for USB, Bluetooth, HDMI and iPhone and iPod and a possibility to add navigation.

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Sorry for Android users as Honda supports the use of iDevices only. The novelty of the connectivity with iDevices is further emphasized by having voice control by using Siri to operate the entertainment system as well as telephony equipment which is wonderfully executed with precise voice recognition system as in you don’t have to repeat yourself. Is that enough reason to convert to Apple products if you were to choose the Honda City then?

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Another point to choose the City is with Honda’s own philosophy of “Man Maximum, Machine Minimum” which translates to a better overall day-today experience with the City. One thing that is bandied about with the philosophy is room and comfort and you have utter abundance of room. The space is huge that with the front seats all the way back I can even fit my “American-sized” body in it. And I am 5’10” and a bit generous sideways. The seats are comfortable and spacious for 5 adults with luggage with a generous 536 litres of boot space on offer.

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The seating position of the Honda is much better with good visibility all-round at the front and more interestingly, a dash that is angled towards the driver for easy reach which is welcoming. The polished black piano garnish on the centre console brings a more premium feel but requires constant care as the slightest touch can leave finger-print smudges on it.

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The dashboard is lit in a very relaxing blue hue that matches the colour of the car and every information on the dash is clearly highlighted. With the new generation it brings no surprises here where the new City is aiming for what with the increasing competition provided by ze Germans and its Japanese counterparts. Although, I do have problems regarding the high positioning of the back seats and combined with the absence of a reverse camera that is not equipped in the test car, it could hamper rear-ward visibility somewhat and as it is equipped with a touch-screen audio system, Honda Malaysia should have put it in.

Negotiating Traffic

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Now Honda has been renowned for its driving enjoyment with its Type-r heritage and sporting pedigree and Honda has made pains to translate it to its road vehicles with every offering providing a degree and hint of it as the ‘sporty’ offering in its class.

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This does translate here as well as compared to the previous generation the suspension is well-damped for normal Malaysian roads and I view it as a better compromise with sporty handling as well as passenger comfort. Bumps on Malaysia’s notorious roads are well damped and fast sweeping corners of highway on-ramps are easily handled. The driving experience is much improved because of that as I do value things that can keep my spine intact. The brakes although I may have been sceptical as why Honda Malaysia opted to fit in ventilated disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the back as opposed to the previous generation which has all-round disc brakes as it appears that Honda is trying to skim on a few things. But that soon proved me wrong as the brake setup is as good or better as the previous generation Honda City. This is none more so during incidents on the highway when the brakes are more than able to withstand the punishment meted out for going over the speed limit more than a few times.

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This then comes up to the City’s powertrain which is even more impressive coming from an engine paired with a CVT automatic transmission. The engine is derived from a newer version of the L15A engine which is the L15Z1 engine with 120 bhp and 145 Nm of torque on tap. Although throttle response is good but yes it does have the elastic feeling when you pressed the throttle but the way it goes about is very linear and very fast due to the transmission. The combination of this powertrain is more than sufficient to settle the speed demons that sometimes reside in our deep recesses with its claimed century dash achieved at 10.5 seconds. I caught myself surprised a few times with this car when on one occasion I accidentally reached the northern most part of the speedometer without much hesitation. The addition of Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist which is essentially Traction Control working with ABS and EBD as well as BA provides a sure confidence of its road handling as demonstrated with the car able to keep up with the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost that my colleague was test driving on the same weekend. Not too shabby this car.

Verdict

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Now with the short amount of time spent in the comforts of the new Honda City, it is actually quite sad when the moment to part ways with it comes. It does provide the driving enjoyment that drivers want with everyday practicality coupled with sharp handling by Honda engineers.

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Mileage was respectable for a weekend hauling ‘ass’, literally and figuratively speaking although room for improvement is certainly there as during the test weekend I managed a fuel consumption of just 10km/l with mixed driving condition and the low mileage of the car.

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This is based on Honda Malaysia claiming the new City to be an Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV). With the top of the range spec that was on test, it could more match the specifications or even shame offerings higher up the food chain with 6 airbags, VSA, Hill-Start Assist, cruise control, Keyless Entry and Push-Start button at a lower price point.

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I could not find any flaws and if there is any I am just nit-picking on things that would irk me like the spoiler and its rear drum brakes but that is not most of the people who are looking at choosing this car would be interested in as the car is that good. So good that I might be interested in getting one.

Words: Azri 

Photos: Haznajims

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