The Honda City struck gold right from the time it was launched in India in 1999. The Japanese reliability, a bulletproof engine (some have done two lakh kilometres and still refused to be bogged down) and the driving dynamics. Even after 20 years, the Honda City nameplate is still revered. The Honda City in its fifth generation will be entering the Indian market. While the launch was supposed to happen this month, the company has now deferred it. You don’t need me to tell you the reason here. It is the same one why I am writing this story from the confines of my home and you’re reading it as well from…home; the coronavirus pandemic. This being said, the Honda City isn’t on the top of sales chart now. First, the Verna in 2011 overtook the City and then the Ciaz came along to become the king of the pile. However, here are the four things, I think, that will make the fifth-generation Honda City click with buyers and possibly help it regain the king of C-segment tag.
It is always a subjective thing. However, since people have loved the fourth-generation model here, especially after it was facelifted, they shouldn’t have an issue with the new car. It looks more or less the same as the outgoing version. Honda has ensured that there is all-around LED lighting for the car and even the alloy wheels that will be on offer look trendy. Buying a Honda City is usually considered a statement and the new model should definitely make one. It also explains how it went from being a B-segment sedan (at a time when there were no sub-4m cars) to a C and now nearly nudges shoulders with the D-segment. The price too has a big role to play here, with the City range now well near the Rs 15 lakh mark.
Hondas in India haven’t had a wow cabin since the 2006 Civic. Even the new Civic for that matter doesn’t make you feel that special. However, the new Honda City, with its leather upholstery, colour-MID, 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment as well as other features will definitely make you go wow. These other features are Alexa-enabled remote capability, Honda Lane Watch (same as in the Civic) and an electric sunroof (Ciaz still doesn’t have one). The feature list shows that the City might not beat the Verna in these relative terms but has its eyes set on the segment leader, the Ciaz. The latter is already showing its age and the sparse feature list means the newer City could be a compelling option for many buyers. As for the new Verna, it might be a bit too flashy and gimmicky for some.
Engines have always been a Honda strong point and there was a time (1999-2008) when it was said that the company charges you a premium just for the powertrain. This time around, there will be a pair of BS6 engines under the hood of the new Honda City. These will include an all-new 1.5-litre petrol engine that pumps out 121hp of power. This engine will be paired to a 6-speed manual or CVT. Honda will also have the familiar 1.5-litre diesel engine. There is no change expected to the power or torque numbers (100hp/200Nm). However, a CVT will be optional while the 6-speed manual transmission will be standard. The Ciaz doesn’t have a diesel engine and has a torque converter automatic option for the petrol. The Verna though outclasses the City here but then it always has had a set of powerful petrol/diesel engines and a host of transmission choices too.
While the requisite safety features mandated by the government will be present, Honda has also got the ASEAN NCAP crown of five stars rating for the new City. This should give it an edge over the Vento, Ciaz and Verna, none of which in their current avatars have been crash tested. Honda will harp about this on their brochures and other communication material. There are six airbags on offer in the top trims, the aforementioned Lane Watch that acts like a blind spot detector. Remote telematics too is part of the package and could make this a better-connected car than the outgoing version.
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