2020 Honda City Test Drive Review: Back to roots and surprisingly good!

The famed Honda City has just entered its fifth-generation and presents itself as an interesting evolution over its predecessors. The new 2020 Honda City will be launched in India very soon and seems like Honda has thrown in almost everything to get the recipe right. But more importantly, has the all-new Honda City been able to bring back the magic of the original first-gen City? Read on to find out.

By:Updated: Jun 30, 2020 5:43 PM

Ever since the Honda City was launched, it set a new benchmark in its segment and gave this segment a really good aspirational value. Over the years, many cars tried to match it but the Honda City itself grew and evolved into a much safer, comfortable and feature-packed car. However, through this evolution, the Honda City somewhere lost the soul that the 1st-gen Honda city had that made it such a delight for driving enthusiasts. We recently spent some time with the latest fifth-gen Honda City and here in this review, we tell you how good is it than its early predecessors and more importantly, has this Honda City been able to retain the soul of the original Honda City or not? We tested two petrol variants (CVT & manual) during this test that started from Ace Honda in Noida and covered 82 km in total. In wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, media drives are no longer a usual thing. In such a case, it was good to have a fully sanitised car with all the safety protocols followed.

2020 Honda City – Design and Appearance

When you look at the new 2020 Honda City, the first thing that’ll come to the minds of many people is the fact that this one looks so much similar to the Civic that is on sale presently. The new City is a lot sharper than the older model and it has a lot of creases and pronounced lines. Grabbing attention at the front are sleek LED headlamps along with good looking DRLs. There is also a thick chrome slat grille and this is something which is a trademark Honda design feature. A lot of sharp creases are found in the lower part of the bumper and around the headlamps and fog lamps. Even the hood slopes down a fair bit and this gives the new City a hunkered down and low stance adding dynamism to the overall character.

On the side of the new 2020 Honda City, the same sharp design philosophy continues and you can see a lot of strong lines. When you look at the side, you can also make out that it is a larger car. Now to give you a perspective, the City is now as big as the older Civic that was on sale in India. You also get good-looking 16-inch wheels and the rubber size you get is 185 section that is standard across all variants. Moving further along the side, giving the new City a sportier profile is the roofline that starts to taper between the B and the C pillar, adding some sportiness to the design.

The LED tail lamps are good-looking and sleek and these give the City a nice and sporty effect. As a result of that, you get is a car that looks premium and sporty and of course, a lot more desirable than ever.

2020 Honda City – Interiors and comfort

The dashboard features an impressive design and good material quality. The wood treatment is subtle and hence looks classy and not overdone like it is in some other cars. The biggest change inside the cabin is the inclusion of a new infotainment system and a touchscreen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay finally find their easy in the Honda City and there’s Alexa connectivity also now complementing Honda Connect. In simple words, you can now access many features of the car using your smartphone. For example, checking fuel level, tyre pressure, locking/ unlocking the vehicle, switching on/off the engine and AC, opening the boot and many more things can be done remotely or through voice commands. This makes the new Honda City the 2nd connected car in its segment after the new Hyundai Verna. Another advantage of Aleca is that vouce commands need not be fixed as per the carmaker and the system is able to understand various accents quite well.

In terms of space, the cabin is nicely laid out and you get good spacious door pockets. There’s also some space underneath the driver armrest and it’s a well-appointed cabin overall. The steering wheel is a nice chunky leather wrapped unit and it gets all the required controls, be cruise control, audio and telephony controls, or the multi-information display control. If we talk about the seats, these are are quite a step up from the older City and that’s a piece of welcome news. The seats are quite spacious, so people of larger body frames also will find themselves to be comfortable. The cushioning is quite nice and you get good side support and shoulder support. So if you’re going to be in these seats for a long time, you’re not going to have a reason to complain.

Once you’re in the rear seat of the new 2020 Honda city, it’s clear that the City delivers strong and there is hardly any area that I can think you can complain of. That is primarily because, in terms of space, there is quite literally a lot of it and with the driver’s seat adjusted to my driving preference and me being 5-feet, 8-inches tall, there is a lot of legroom to spare. The footboard has been given a slight incline so when you’re sitting on this bench for a long duration, your feet will feel quite relaxed. That is again a nice touch inside the car and this seat itself is very nice. The cushioning is almost spot on and even the under-thigh support is adequate. I think for most people it should suffice. The backrest angle is quite nice and you also have a cushioned armrest. The good thing is that for the middle occupant, you get a seatbelt as well. So that gives it a higher score in terms of safety. And as far as safety is concerned, the 2020 Honda City is loaded with safety features.

In terms of headroom, there is a lot of it despite the coupe design and the sloping roofline. The other good thing inside the car that I really like is the attention to detail. If you look at the switches again, they have a rich feel and this is throughout the cabin. This gives the City a premium character that the older one was missing.

There’s also an electrically operated sunroof and two rear AC vents along with two 180 watt power outlets. So in a nutshell, if you are someone who’s looking for the family car, the all-new Honda City is almost the perfect car you can think of. Also, if you are someone who’s looking for a chauffeur-driven vehicle, the all-new fifth-gen City in our opinion will be the best vehicle you can buy in the market once it’s on sale.

Watch our 2020 Honda City video review:

Because of the Coronavirus, not many people are making their airport runs, but if and when you do, the new 2020 Honda City is going to deliver well because it gives you one of the largest boot spaces, 506 liters of volume to be precise. You can place in a lot of luggage in an easy manner and that is a really good thing. The loading lip also is not too high and hence the boot is an accessible and usable one.

2020 Honda City – Engine performance

What you get in terms of engine options is a choice between a petrol and a diesel motor, both displace 1.5 litre and the transmission options include either a CVT with the petrol motor or a six-speed manual whereas the diesel can only be had with a six-speed manual unit. Now, as far as the one that we drove, it is the CVT variant. The City is a very comfortable and refined car to drive. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, comfortable driving experience and have a family-oriented car, well, this is the one you should go for. The CVT performance is quite nice and it is much better than many of the other CVTs out there in the market and of course, there is the rubber band effect.

It’s not devoid of that rubber band effect but it’s not to the point that it might really put you off. So yes, it’s a well-synchronized unit. As far as stats are concerned, the displacement and the torque are the same but it is not exactly the same engine. The engine has been significantly reworked internally to improve performance in multiple areas and as a result of that, you also get a slight power bump of just about two horse horsepower, which means you get 120 PS of power with this model. Now the motor itself is a very refined unit and the performance again is quite nice. The highlight for us is the fact that with the manual gearbox, the all-new City is an absolute treat to drive. Like I said earlier, the first-generation was such a fantastic car to drive and this finally, after the first generation is a car that will please driving enthusiasts.

The motor is really nice and it revs freely to about 6,500 rpm. It does not complain at all if you are revving it hard, the manual gearbox again is slick, the gear throws are short, the good ratios are well matched to the engine. Couple all of this and what you get is a phenomenal driving experience, which really brings back the sweet memories of the original first-generation Honda city and that in my view is the biggest achievement for this all-new fifth-generation Honda city, bringing back that driving DNA of the original model.

2020 Honda City – Ride Quality

The City has always been known for offering good quality and that legacy continues with the new City as well. The handling is also good and you get a nice balance between handling and ride quality. There is a slight bias towards comfort so the suspension is tuned more towards the softer side but that does not mean the City is nervous around corners and if you attack corners, it will still keep you happy. The straight-line stability is good and as far as active safety is concerned again, you get a lot of features that you would expect from a car of this segment. Some of the notable ones that we would like to talk about are the vehicle stability assist system which is the old school ESC and of course, you have a blind view monitor system on your left side. You have three viewing angles for the reverse parking camera.

You also have a new feature for the segment, which is handling assist. Now this is something that applies slight braking to the front wheels while you’re cornering and it helps in keeping the car planted, a little more stable and you can feel the system working, especially when you’re going through a series of quick turns and that is when you can feel it doing its job. In a nutshell, the Honda City has grown. The new generation is much better to drive, is very defined, comfortable and the highlight is that it’s once again fun to drive.

2020 Honda City – Final Verdict

The all-new Honda City in its fifth-gen avatar has proven to be a lot better in almost every area and like the earlier four generations, it has once again evolved, it has grown and it is a lot more premium now. Now it’s safer, feature pack and more importantly, it builds upon some of the shortcomings that the older Citys had, especially in the area of infotainment. So all those things have been listened to and have been corrected. That’s a really good thing with the all-new Honda City now.

Beyond all of the improvements in this car, one other important thing that remains to be answered is that, does this have the DNA or the feel of the original first-gen Honda City and the answer to that question is a simple yes. However, that holds true only if you’re going in for the manual version with the petrol engine and this car is an absolute delight to drive and brings back some memories of the original first-gen Honda City. If you are a driving enthusiast, the petrol Honda City with a manual gearbox is pretty much the best option you can get in this segment today and apart from that, if you are someone who’s looking for a modern feature-loaded, spacious, a family-oriented or a chauffeur-driven car, the all-new fifth-gen Honda City pretty much checks all the required boxes.

The biggest thing that remains to be answered about the all-new Honda City is its price, which is not out yet and is expected to be out by sometime in the first week of July. But we can tell you right now that the new Honda City will be positioned as a premium sedan because the older city is not being discontinued. It will continue to be on sale as the lower variants, so for the lower variants, you go for the older City and this new one will be available only in higher trims and that’s why the premium positioning. But even despite the premium positioning, Honda will have to be very careful with the pricing and ensure that they price this car competitively. If they outprice themselves, despite being a great car, this could be a lost cause, but if Honda is able to price the all-new City competitively, there is a good chance that this car can go on to establish itself at the top of its segment.

2020 Honda City Engine Specifications
Engine1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, i-VTEC Petrol
Power119bhp @ 6,600rpm
Torque145Nm @ 4,300rpm
Transmission6-speed Manual
CVT with Paddle Shifters
2020 Honda City Dimensions
Wheelbase2600mm
Length4549mm
Width1748mm
Height1486mm
Tyres185/55 R16
Boot Space506 litres

 

2020 Honda City Features
New All-LED headlamps
New All-LED tail lamps
Electric Sunroof
8-Inch Touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Digital Multi-Information Driver’s Display
Honda Connect with 32 connected features
India first – Amazon Alexa Enabled Car
Remote control AC, Door lock and unlock, boot open
Car Dashboard: Vehicle status, Vehicle Health and more
Location Services: Find My Car, Share Vehicle Location
Alerts – Tyre deflation, Battery, Time fencing
Service Features: RSA, PUC, Service History, Insurance
2020 Honda City Safety Features
6 Airbags
ABS with EBD
VSA, AHA, HSA, ESS
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
ISOFIX
Blind Spot Monitor
Multi-Angle Rear View Camera
5 three-point pre-tensioned seat belts

 

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