Honda started it’s operations in India way back in 1997 with the launch of their mid-sized sedan, the Honda City. Back then there were already a few cars in that segment like the Opel Astra, Daewoo Cielo, Mitsubishi Lancer and Ford Escort so the City had it’s work cut out, and it sure did deliver for Honda. With Japanese reliability, clean looks and a fuel efficient engine the City soon became the segment leader. In 2001 Honda launched the City with the VTEC engine. With much better performance figures and a tremendous modifying-potential the City VTEC became a dream of car enthusiasts. In 2003 Honda launched the 2nd generation City. It was much more compact and had a totally different stance and bodyshell. Following this was a more radical and stylish City ZX which also continued to bring in good numbers. In 2008 the 3rd generation City was launched. With around 200,000 copies sold it turned out to be the most successful generation of the City. But by now the market conditions and competition had changed. Due to government taxation policies and constant fuel hikes the market conditions favored diesel vehicles. Thus the City, which was once the segment leader lost it’s position to the Hyundai Verna, because of the fact that the City was only available with a petrol option. Finally after a long wait of 15 years, Honda have launched the 4th generation City with a diesel option. It is priced at 7.42-11.10 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi).
ENGINE AND GEARBOX:
The most important part of the new City is obviously the Diesel engine. It is a 1.5L i-DTEC Earth Dreams diesel engine which produces 100bhp of power at 3600rpm and 200Nm of torque at 1750spm. Yes it is the same engine seen in the Amaze and is also the engine which will power the upcoming Mobilio MPV. Unfortunately the performance figures are nearly identical to the Amaze, which is extremely disappointing. The City gets a 6-speed manual gearbox in the diesel in comparison to the conventional 5-speed seen on the amaze. And that is the reason why the City’s ARAI mileage is a whopping 26kmpl! Honda had an option of either increasing the power or increasing the mileage and they have gone with the latter option which in my opinion was a smart move as we are extremely mileage conscious.
The petrol City is powered by the familiar 1.5L i-VTEC engine seen on the outgoing model but with a few improvements. This engine makes 119bhp of power at 6600rpm and 145Nm of torque at 4600rpm. Keeping on the legacy of Honda petrol engines this motor is extremely silent when idle, and is very refined and responsive. The Petrol City is also available with a CVT(Continuous Variable Transmission) Automatic transmission along with paddle shifters which is a large improvement over the conventional Auto-box of the outgoing car. It has got an ARAI mileage of 18kmpl, which is slightly higher than the 17.8kmpl of the manual City.
The 4thgeneration City at first glance looks quite similar to the 3rd generation car. It has a similar headlamp and bumper design. The front grille has an overdose of chrome with that chunky front grille, recommend owners to upgrade to the better looking double-slat grille(similar to the amaze grille) immediately. The sharp creases along the body, flared fenders and window line look clearly inspired by the Fluidic design language of Hyundai’s. Though the good looks of the side profile are spoilt by the plane-jane alloy wheel design. The rear end on the other hand has seen a big change. The taillights are now longer and look very similar to the taillights on the upcoming Suzuki sedan(codenamed: YL1). The number plate area looks quite similar to the BMW X1. Overall the design is fresh, appealing, premium and yet sporty at the same time.
INTERIORS AND EQUIPMENT:
Well some people complain that the 4th generation car looks too similar to the outgoing car, but once you step inside that thought will completely change. The interior design of the new City is completely new, right from the instrument cluster, front fascia to the switchgear and steering wheel. The choice of materials used is much better and finally Honda seems to be getting closer to Volkswagen in this aspect. The interior feels quite futuristic with the feather touch climate control, blue-ringed dials and the 5 inch multimedia screen supporting AUX, USB and CD with 8speakers. The new City’s interior is also more spacious overall due to the slightly increased dimensions. The City is loaded with features such as Airbags, ABS/EBD, Sunroof, Climate control, Engine start/stop button, Leather seats and a reversing camera. Honda have taken into consideration the criticism of the previous generation car’s mediocre interior and have completely transformed it in this generation. It surely is one of the highlights of the new City.
Honda have finally taken customer feedback seriously and have worked on those areas. Sure, few people might think that some things such as the design is too similar to the previous generation car, but then why fix something that isn’t broken? Thus the new City is a very good all-rounded package, and it finally get’s a diesel engine too. Hyundai Verna better watch out!
Picture Credits: Motorbeam.com