The Honda City has been the star performer in the company's line-up ever since it was introduced in the Indian market more than 15 years back. Since then, all upgrades of the City have performed well on the sales chart and ruled the segment largely. Recently, though, the car lost some ground to the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz but Honda is having another go at the leadership spot with the new 2017 Honda City. With the same engines and underpinnings, can the new City reclaim the top spot? We find out.
Although, the changes on the City are more of a nip and tuck job, they've been integrated smartly. As a result, the new City looks different from the older one and more premium too. On the outside, the two top end variants, VX and ZX will get LED headlamps with LED fog lamps, 16-inch diamond cut alloys and electric sunroof.
The middle variant V has15-inch alloy wheels, while the lower variant S and SV get full wheel cap covers. The top end ZX trim will also feature LED tail lights, a boot lid mounted spoiler with LED stop lamp and LED lights for the rear license plate illumination. The LED DRLs are standard across the range.
The new Honda City features the same engine options that are seen on the outgoing generation of the sedan. It is powered by a 1.5 litre petrol and a 1.5 diesel engine, of which the 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine delivers 117 hp of power and 145 Nm of torque, while the 1.5 litre i-DTEC units produces 99 hp and 200 Nm. Similar to the current generation, the petrol engine is paired to a 5-speed manual and a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic transmission with paddle shifters and the diesel variants gets a 6-speed manual gearbox.
During the drive, we drove the ZX variant with the petrol engine and CVT. The engine is smooth and offers enough power to move around the car effortlessly. The CVT gearbox too is unchanged from the older version and is one of the better CVT units on sale right now. That said, the gearbox exhibits the trademark rubber-band effect wherein the engine makes a lot of sound in proportion to the increase in speed. Since the drive was short, we couldn't measure fuel-efficiency but the on-board computer showed a figure of 15.3 km/l, with most of the drive done in city traffic.
The cabin of the new City is where bulk of the changes have taken place, the most important one being the inclusion of the 7-inch touchscreen. This was the key area, where the City was lagging behind some of its competitors. Honda calls this system the DIGIPAD, which offers access to navigation, Bluetooth, USB, MirrorLink and voice recognition. The touchscreen has a simple interface and the touch response too is good. This infotainment system also comes with a 1.5 gb hard drive, that should be enough to save your collection of music.
Watch the New Honda City First Drive:
The front seats are well-cushioned and well-sorted ergonomics mean all controls are within the easy reach of the driver. Space at the rear too is generous and taller occupants too won't have a problem with legroom or head room. Material quality in the cabin is good and the soft-touch dashboard helps add to the premium appeal. The rear-view mirror casing too has changed and now comes in a translucent colour, which gives the mirror a frame less look. Storage space too is ample with bottle holders in door pockets, centre console and rear arm rest.
Safety has been addressed well across the City range as all variants come with front-dual airbags and ABS with EBD as standard. The top variants come with six airbags and wider tyres, adding to the safety quotient.
The Honda City has always been a strong seller for the company and key reasons for that include its balanced offering in all aspects demanded by consumers and premium positioning. With the new City, Honda has pushed the premium positioning further and as a result, the car is now the most expensive in its segment. Starting at Rs 8.5 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, the top variants go up to Rs 13.57 lakh. At this price, the City surely offers a generous equipment list but it also comes close to cars such as the Toyota Corolla from a segment above. So while the new City has the hardware to regain the segment leadership spot, the effect of its pricing should be interesting to witness.
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