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Honda first launched the City in India, back in 1998. It's been more than two decades that the car has been in the Indian market. Over the years, the sedan has gone through some extensive design overhauls. However, the fourth generation avatar has remained one of the longest-running iterations in our market.
Honda was supposed to launch the fifth-generation City earlier this year, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the launch had to be postponed. Now, we got a chance to drive both the petrol and the diesel variants of the all-new Honda City and boy, the car just amazed us. Read more to find out!
Design & Style
At first glance, as the car approaches, you will be able to recognise it as a Honda City as the overall silhouette remains more or less the same. The new car measures around 4,549mm in length, 1,748mm in width, 1,489mm in height, and has a 2,600mm long wheelbase, which makes the new City slightly longer and wider than the outgoing model on sale. However, the wheelbase length of the new sedan remains the same as the fourth generation one.
At the front, the new Honda City gets full-LED headlamps (nine lights placed in series) with integrated LED DRL and L-shaped LED turn signal. Usually the DRLs act as dynamic indicators in most other cars, but in the new City, the DRLs are placed on top of the headlight while the lower half of the headlight unit features the dynamic LED indicators. Both work separately and to be honest, the headlight units look absolutely futuristic.
Coming to the side, the first thing that will catch one's attention is the 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheel, that is finished in a dual-tone paint scheme. The wheels look perfect in terms of size when they are compared to the overall dimensions of the car. Also, the sedan features sporty shoulder lines and creases that run the entire length of the car from the headlight to the taillight.
There is a fair amount of chrome garnishing done all over the car to give it that upmarket feel. At the rear, the new City gets the 'CITY' badge on the left and the i-VTEC/i-DTEC badge along with the variant on the right. It also features a reverse parking camera along with parking sensors to help ease up parking, although we did not find the camera quality to be extraordinary.
Speaking about cameras, the all-new City also gets a lane-monitoring camera on the left-wing mirror. Every time the left indicator is switched on, the camera will relay the feed to the centre screen. Now, that is actually helpful as sometimes seeing the left side of the road while changing lanes becomes difficult. You never know, somebody could be overtaking from the left! That is where the lane-monitoring camera comes in handy. This feature was first introduced in the fleet with the 10th generation Honda Civic.
Interiors & Practicality
Step inside the car and you will be welcomed with several changes and Honda is calling the interior design language as the "Ambitious Beauty". To start with, the Honda City gets a new instrument cluster, which is a semi-digital one. The speedometer is analogue and the tachometer is digital. Another segment-first feature is the G-meter, placed in the middle of the tacho, to measure the cornering forces; these are mostly found only on performance cars.
Moving on, the car gets a new leather-wrapped steering wheel along with steering mounted controls that are really easy to use and makes the journey effortless as far as using the infotainment system and the cruise control goes. It has an eight-inch infotainment system that supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a segment-first Alexa Remote voice assistance feature. We felt that the positioning of the screen is slightly backwards, meaning taller drivers will have to face the glare of the sun on the screen.
The new Honda City gets an all-new dual-tone dashboard with soft-touch material on it. There are bits and pieces of piano black material present in the cabin along with brushed aluminium and some amount of chrome present on the door handles. The car also gets a sunroof and if you want you can open or close the roof liner manually. To open the sunroof there is a button present at the side of the driver's side reading light.
Speaking about comfort, the seats of the new City just look amazing. It has that sporty bucket-seat look and thanks to the decent amount of cushioning, the seat does not feel that hard also. Though we got to drive the car for a couple of hours only, the seat did not tire us out at all (can't tell about long journeys though!). It also has good side bolstering that keeps the driver in place while cornering hard. Both the front seats are manual and feature height adjusters.
At the rear, the sedan can accommodate three people easily and there is plenty of headroom and legroom available for tall passengers. However, if two people are sitting at the back, they can deploy the centre armrest and also keep drinks in it as it features cupholders. The air conditioning works fantastically and since there are rear AC vents, the cabin cools down faster on a hot day. The new City also features a big boot that can accommodate luggage for four easily.
Power & Handling
Powering the all-new Honda City are both petrol and diesel engines. We drove the petrol CVT and the diesel manual variants, however, we did not get our hands on the petrol manual variant, but we will soon. The petrol variant is a 1.5-litre i-VTEC (DOHC) Double Overhead Cam engine and produces 120bhp of power and 145Nm of torque. The seven-speed CVT is really smooth to drive around the city. However, as you step on the gas there is a constant buzz from the engine on higher revs, that might get annoying sometimes. But, at low revs, the engine is super quiet.
Honda has done a fantastic job on the NVH levels and the sedan cancels out most of the outside noise. The petrol CVT variant gets an ECO mode for better fuel economy. We could not get the exact mileage of the car because of limited time, but the company claims that the new City's CVT variant can deliver up to 17 to 18 km/l. The CVT variant also features paddle shifters that make the driving experience much sportier. But a CVT adapts quickly changing the gear ratios by small amounts multiple times within seconds, making the paddle shifters less useful on a CVT gearbox, especially during hard acceleration.
On the other hand, the diesel variant is powered by a 1.5-litre i-DTEC unit and churns out 100bhp of power and 200Nm of peak torque. The oil burner and the petrol come mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The seven-speed CVT automatic transmission that we drove is optional only on the petrol variants. Due to the higher torque output, the diesel variant has a stronger mid-range than the petrol ones.
Diesel cars are known to have a slightly noisier cabin than petrol vehicles. As we mentioned above, the company has worked to make the NVH levels as good as possible, but there is quite a lot of engine noise and humming in the cabin at higher revs, just like a typical diesel engine. Again, due to the less time, we could not check the fuel economy, but the company claims around the 24km/l mark.
Show the car some corners and it will just tug in and stick to the line. However, the suspension is slightly towards the softer side, meaning, a very comfortable ride. And it is true, the car absorbed all the bumps and potholes that it encountered. Due to this setup, the handling sometimes goes for a toss, as there is some amount of body roll present. If the suspension was slightly on the stiffer side then it would be a different game all together. The input from the steering is also sharp and with the slightest of a flick, the car will change lanes.
As far as the safety features are concerned, the all-new Honda City comes loaded with the best-in-class safety features. This includes handling assist, hill start, a total of six i-SRS airbags, vehicle stability assist, a (TPMS) Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, six airbags and ABS with EBD. We were definitely impressed with the brakes, they just stopped the car within no time.
The Honda City has come a long way and the fifth-generation model is loaded with features and looks amazing. A few things that we did not like about the car are the engine noise and the soft suspension. Other than that, the all-new Honda City is ready to go up against the likes of the new Hyundai Verna, the Skoda Rapid, the Volkswagen Vento, and the Toyota Yaris in the Indian market. Now since the sedan is loaded with features, we expect Honda to offer the new City with a higher price tag between the Rs 11.5 to 13 lakh mark.