Honda City Expert Review

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Introduction

The Honda City is without a doubt, a sedan that offers a segment above experience. Not only has it been an aspirational car for Indians since 1998, but if you want a car that offers acres of cabin space, top-notch practicality, a big dollop of the ‘wow’ factor and time-tested reliability, you can’t go wrong with the Honda City.

Currently, available with 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines, the Honda City offers a good balance of driveability, efficiency and punch. While the powertrain options haven’t changed since the current model was launched in 2014, the 2017 Honda City facelift did bring in some new features. Kitted out with LED exterior lighting, a sunroof, six airbags, touchscreen infotainment and a whole lot more, the Honda City offers plenty for the Indian family-car buyer. But at its price, how is the proposition better than the competition?

Pros
  • The City’s interior space and build quality is good. In fact, it is comparable with even some D-segment sedans
  • At 510 litres, the City’s boot is among the most spacious in the segment. It’s also the same as the Ciaz’s.
  • The City gets a one-touch electric sunroof, which is unavailable in most cars in this segment
  • The Honda City gets six airbags in the top-spec ZX variant. Not many cars in this segment offer that
  • The petrol City is among the most fuel-efficient automatic cars in its segment.At 18kmpl, it is about 2kmpl more efficient than the Verna petrol automatic, which has a claimed efficiency of 15.92kmpl.
Cons
  • High Price: the City is the most expensive car in its segment. The City’s top-spec ZX variant is almost Rs 1 lakh pricier than the Verna’s SX(O) variant, City’s closest rival in terms of features and performance
  • Infotainment System: the City’s 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is laggy and lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, something which is offered in every other sedan in this segment
  • NVH levels could have been better. Diesel engine’s vibrations and noise can be felt inside the cabin
  • The City is not offered with an automatic transmission with its diesel engine. However, other sedans like the Vento, Rapid and the Verna get it
  • The Honda City gets touch-based AC controls in its top-spec variant, which are not easy to use while driving as you will need to take your eyes off the road to use them

Stand Out Features

  • Paddle Shifters: The City is the only car in its segment to offer paddle shifters. The paddle shifters allow drivers to shift gears without getting hands off the steering wheel
Honda City Image

    Paddle Shifters: The City is the only car in its segment to offer paddle shifters. The paddle shifters allow drivers to shift gears without getting hands off the steering wheel

    Honda City Image
  • Internet Connectivity: The Digipad infotainment system is wifi enabled that allows the user to access the internet with the help of a mobile hotspot. It is the only car in its segment to get this functionality
Honda City Image

    Internet Connectivity: The Digipad infotainment system is wifi enabled that allows the user to access the internet with the help of a mobile hotspot. It is the only car in its segment to get this functionality

    Honda City Image
  • LED headlamps: The Honda City is the only car to offer LED headlamps and fog lamps. These headlamps not only lend the City a premium look but also provide better visibility.

 
Honda City Image

    LED headlamps: The Honda City is the only car to offer LED headlamps and fog lamps. These headlamps not only lend the City a premium look but also provide better visibility.

     

    Honda City Image

CarDekho Verdict

Even with the facelift, the City retains its core strengths. It’s still the same comfortable, reliable, spacious and easy to own car as before. But what Honda has aimed to do is fill in a few holes in the package. Has it done that? Yes, whether it’s the matter of safety or adding some desirable features so that the City can cater to modern buyer demands, Honda has almost perfected the City’s positioning as a great all-rounder.

"It wows you with its design on the inside and out and balances the emotional appeal with actual sensibility for daily usage."

But why should you choose the Honda City over more affordable rivals like the Maruti Ciaz or Hyundai Verna? The biggest selling point remains the Honda City’s cabin space and sense of luxury. It wows you with its design on the inside and out and balances the emotional appeal with actual sensibility for daily usage. The Honda City also commands strong resale value, so you do get a lot of the money spent, back, when it’s time to upgrade. However, if these primary selling point aren’t absolute must haves for you, there are alternatives (Ciaz, Verna)  that offer more bang for buck.

Background & Evolution

The roots of the Honda City in India go way back to 1998 which marked Honda’s entry into the mid-size sedan segment. In its latest edition, the City introduced Honda’s H design philosophy  in India which will be adopted by all its products in the future. Read all about the evolution of the Honda City here.

Exterior

The Honda City is a classy looking sedan and the facelift adds some sporty touches. Up front, the chrome grille is slimmer and gets a black honeycomb mesh behind. The headlamps have been restyled as well, and now sport LED daytime running lights and first-in-segment LED headlights. Additionally, the front bumper is new and apart from featuring smaller fog lamp enclosures, the fog lights themselves are LED units.

The boring old alloy wheels have not only been redesigned, but upsized as well. So, on the top-two variants, you get a new set of 16-inch wheels. The design may be not be to everyone’s taste, though. The lower variants get a new set of 15-inch wheels too.

The City facelift looks the most distinctive from the rear, mainly because of the new tail lights that now feature dual-tone (red and clear-lens) detailing on the top-end model. No surprises that the tail lights are LEDs too, as is the stop light that’s integrated into the new rear spoiler. Believe it or not, even the number plate is illuminated with LEDs! The rear bumper’s new as well and gets a black honeycomb insert that makes the City’s rear look leaner.

Exterior Comparison

Volkswagen Vento Honda City
Length (mm) 4390 4440
Width (mm) 1699 1695
Height (mm) 1467 1495
Ground Clearance (mm) 163 165
Wheel Base (mm) 2553 2600
Kerb Weight (kg) 1213Kg 1147
 

Boot Space Comparison

Honda City Volkswagen Vento
Volume 510 494
 

Interior

On the inside, the black-beige-silver theme is elegant and the overall quality is quite good, though, a few more soft-touch plastics would’ve been nice. However, with the facelift, Honda has plugged a few gaps in the cabin.

So the steering now gets the added advantage of reach adjustment (only tilt earlier), which helps you find that perfect driving position with a lot more ease. The sunroof, which was already available, gets the one touch operation for some added convenience.

Additionally, you now get an interior rear-view mirror that’s not only auto-dimming, but frameless as well. Even the starter button gets some new backlighting which makes it look more distinctive, while the instrument cluster’s dials now glow white (earlier blue).

Honda has also thrown in additional kit like auto-headlamps and auto-wipers - something that its rival, the Hyundai Verna already offered. Of course, following the exterior lighting theme, you get LED map lights up front and LED reading lamps at the rear in the range-topping ZX variant.

The cabin is still uber-spacious as ever. 5 occupants can fit in with ease and two six-footers can sit one behind the other. The only problem is that tall occupants will find themselves wanting for better rear seat headroom and while the cabin is wide, the middle occupant won’t be too comfortable over long journeys because of the raised centre section of the rear bench and slightly protruding armrest console. On the plus-side, the rear headrests are now adjustable, but the feature is limited to the top-end ZX variant only.

Technology

Honda India’s R&D division has developed a new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display labelled the ‘Digipad’. It runs on an Android-based operating system and is very user-friendly. Apart from the larger screen size, the unit comes with the added advantage of MirrorLink and Wi-Fi connectivity. Since you do have 2 USB ports, one can be used for running the apps offered in MirrorLink, provided you have a MirrorLink enabled phone. While MirrorLink does offer added benefits (e.g. music player and navigation app), the number of apps available is limited when compared to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay – both of which, the new Hyundai Verna offers.

In fact, Honda went back to the drawing board and brought in a new system called the Digipad 2.0 and plonked it into the Amaze. The new head-unit is smoother to use, far more responsive and even gets Android Auto & Apple CarPlay, yet, Honda does not offer it in the City, which is a let down.

Digipad 2.0

Another feature of the Honda City’s older Digipad system is the Wi-Fi connectivity option. This feature lets you connect to a Wi-Fi source nearby (say, your phone’s hotspot), to operate functions through the browser app. Once connected, you can access any website directly through the infotainment display. It’s also useful for receiving live traffic updates on the in-built navigation system (SD card-based/by MapMyIndia).

Additionally, the setup gets voice command recognition for the navigation system, entertainment and telephony systems. Other features of the infotainment system include an SD card slot for media files, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, 1.5GB of internal memory and an HDMI port. The eight-speaker sound system is the same as before and the sound quality continues to be impressive.

Performance

The updated City is mechanically identical to the outgoing version, so you still get the same 1.5-litre petrol (119PS/145Nm) and diesel (100PS/200Nm) engines. The petrol gets a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the option of a CVT automatic with paddle-shifters, while the diesel only gets a six-speed manual gearbox.

The diesel engine was infamous for its high noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. Honda claims the problem has been worked on in the facelift, but it’s still not up to the mark. Whatever improvement has been made is marginal and the engine still lacks the kind of refinement levels you’d expected at this price. Vibrations can still be felt through the steering and pedals and engine does take away from the car’s otherwise premium feel.

However, the engine’s low-end torque is great and the motor offers great driveability even before the turbo kicks in. There’s barely any throttle input needed to drive at city speeds and power delivery, even when the turbo kicks in, is very smooth. The City diesel is an efficient urban-commuter and highway cruiser, but it isn’t fun to drive like the rev-happy petrol.

The petrol City is refined and is very engaging to use. You can take it easy and get a good fuel-economy or rev it hard to have some fun. It’s easily among the most well-rounded petrol engines in the segment. However, while this engine was once the benchmark for refinement, rivals like the Hyundai Verna have taken the game further. It’s not that the petrol motor isn’t polished, but the noise insulation of the City just can’t come close to what the Verna offers. 

But when it comes to punch, the City petrol has plenty. In our 0-100kmph test, the City petrol MT took 9.64 seconds vs the Verna 1.6 petrol MT’s 11.31 seconds, while the City petrol CVT took 11.90 seconds vs the Verna 1.6 AT’s 12.04 seconds. It also comes close to the Verna petrol in terms of fuel efficiency, managing a city/highway mileage of 13.86kmpl/19.21kmpl vs the Verna MT’s 14.82kmpl/19.12kmpl. The automatic, on the other hand, is not as frugal, delivering 11.22kmpl/16.55kmpl vs the Verna AT’s 12.17kmpl/18.43kmpl. 

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Volkswagen Vento Honda City
Power 108.6bhp@4000rpm 97.9bhp@3600rpm
Torque (Nm) 250Nm@1500-3000rpm 200Nm@1750rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1498 1498
Transmission Automatic Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 180 Kmph 175 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 11.07 Seconds 10 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1238kg 1175kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 22.15kmpl 25.6kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 87.72 bhp/ton 83.32 bhp/ton
 

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Honda City
Power 117.6bhp@6600rpm
Torque (Nm) 145Nm@4600rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1497
Transmission Automatic
Top Speed (kmph) 178.55 kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 11.90 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1107kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 18.0kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 106.23 bhp/ton

Ride and Handling

The City’s suspension strikes a good balance between comfort and stability. Under most driving conditions, the ride quality is good and it can handle the average Indian road quite well, while it’s steady at high speeds too. However, the suspension is a bit noisy over broken patches of road and if you hit a pothole, it will be felt in the cabin.

The City, as its name suggests, is about easy urban mobility. So the steering is super-light and makes maneuvering through traffic a breeze. The steering is quite direct too and the handling mannerisms are very predictable even for inexperienced drivers. However, at high-speeds, we do wish the steering weighed-up a bit more and unfortunately, there isn’t much feedback either. It’s a good car for a driving enthusiast, but not the best.

Off-Road Ability

With 165mm of ground clearance, the City can manage a few medium-sized potholes at best. It is not an off-roader by any means.

Luxury Factor

The Honda City’s airy cabin adds to the sense of space. The beige interior, while prone to staining easily, looks premium, while the chrome touches are tasteful. The dashboard gets a T-shaped silver accent that adds to the upmarket look, while a few more silver touches on the door pads and centre console enhance the experience. Thoughtful touches like armrests at the front and rear help improve cabin comfort, while unique elements like the LED map lights and reading lights make the car feel unique on the inside.

Technology

Honda India’s R&D division has developed a new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display labelled the ‘Digipad’. It runs on an Android-based operating system and is very user-friendly. Apart from the larger screen size, the unit comes with the added advantage of MirrorLink and Wi-Fi connectivity. Since you do have 2 USB ports, one can be used for running the apps offered in MirrorLink, provided you have a MirrorLink enabled phone. While MirrorLink does offer added benefits (e.g. music player and navigation app), the number of apps available is limited when compared to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay – both of which, the new Hyundai Verna is expected to get.

The Wi-Fi connectivity option lets you connect to a Wi-Fi source nearby (say, your phone’s hotspot), to operate functions through the browser app. Once connected, you can access any website directly through the infotainment display. It’s also useful for receiving live traffic updates on the in-built navigation system (SD card-based/by MapMyIndia). Additionally, the setup gets voice command recognition for the navigation system, entertainment and telephony systems. Other features of the infotainment system include an SD card slot for media files, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, 1.5GB of internal memory and an HDMI port. The eight-speaker sound system is the same as before and the sound quality continues to be impressive.

Safety

The car’s safety package is even better than before. Dual airbags and ABS come as standard, but you also get rear seat ISOFIX child seat mounts right from the base variant. Also, considering how not only rivals like the Verna, but more affordable cars like the Figo, Elite i20 and Aspire get them, you now have side and curtain airbags on the top-end ZX grade.

Safety Comparison

Honda City
Airbags righticonClose
ABS righticonClose
EBD righticonClose

Variants

  • Diesel
  • Petrol
Variants Features Price
City i-DTEC SV Cruise Control, Power-folding ORVM, Audio Controls On Steering, 11.11 Lakh*
City i-DTEC V [ In adition to i-DTEC SV ] Touchscreen Infotainment, 15-inch Alloy Wheels, Push-button Start/Stop, [ Variant i-DTEC SV price ] + 75,000 =  11.86 Lakh*
City i-DTEC VX [ In adition to i-DTEC V ] LED Headlamps, 16-inch Alloy Wheels, Sunroof, [ Variant i-DTEC V price ] + 1,11,000 =  12.97 Lakh*
City i-DTEC ZX [ In adition to i-DTEC VX ] Side And Curtain Airbags, Adjustable Rear Headrests, Trunk-lid Spoiler, [ Variant i-DTEC VX price ] + 1,19,000 =  14.16 Lakh*
Variants Features Price
City i-VTEC SV Dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, Automatic Climate Control, 9.81 Lakh*
City i-VTEC V [ In adition to i-VTEC SV ] LED indicators on ORVMs, Engine Start/Stop Button, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainmen, [ Variant i-VTEC SV price ] + 69,900 =  10.5 Lakh*
City i-VTEC VX [ In adition to i-VTEC V ] LED fog lamps, Electric Sunroof, 16-inch diamond-cut alloys, [ Variant i-VTEC V price ] + 1,16,100 =  11.67 Lakh*
City i-VTEC CVT V [ In adition to i-VTEC VX ] All features of V [ Variant i-VTEC VX price ] + 19,000 =  11.86 Lakh*
City i-VTEC ZX [ In adition to i-VTEC CVT V ] Side [ Variant i-VTEC CVT V price ] + 1,00,000 =  12.86 Lakh*
City i-VTEC CVT VX [ In adition to i-VTEC ZX ] All features of VX [ Variant i-VTEC ZX price ] + 11,000 =  12.97 Lakh*
City i-VTEC CVT ZX [ In adition to i-VTEC CVT VX ] All features of ZX [ Variant i-VTEC CVT VX price ] + 1,19,000 =  14.16 Lakh*

The Honda City is offered in 5 variants – S, SV, V, VX and ZX. The base variant is quite well-equipped and gets a good list of features, including dual airbags and ABS with EBD, along with power windows, power-adjustable wing-mirrors, keyless entry, a music system that includes Bluetooth connectivity, four-speakers, ISOFIX and a rear defogger. However, this variant is only available with the petrol engine and manual transmission.

The ZX grade gets nice tech like 6 airbags, LED interior lights and LED tail lights, along with auto-headlamps and wipers. However, this variant is not available with the petrol manual transmission.

The most value-for-money variant is the mid-range V grade. It gets a touchscreen infotainment system, 15-inch alloy wheels, push-button starter, smart-key and an eight-speaker sound system too. The VX variant is quite tempting, as it gets 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, LED headlights and fog lights, leather upholstery and adds reach-adjustability to the steering wheel. The Rs 1.30-1.65 lakh price premium for these features is expected, but the added features aren’t need-based, though they add some convenience and novelty.

Honda City similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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