By : RACHNA TYAGI
GREATER NOIDA :
When it comes to technology, few car manufacturers can match the alacrity with which Honda brings their latest innovations to their newest models. In fact, Honda has garnered quite a reputation for doing things differently even from the other Japanese car manufacturers and for that, they have been suitably rewarded (by buyers) as well. This time around too, things are no different; the City, has a host of new offerings for its customers. To begin with the car manufacturer has introduced two new variants, SV and V, on their petrol and hybrid versions respectively and there are also two exterior packages to choose from – Elegant and Sport for the lower and higher variants respectively. Besides, the sedan also gets some really cool ‘Honda Sensing’ features which elevates the City’s game to a whole new level, vis-à-vis its rivals – the VW Virtus, Skoda Slavia, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, and the Hyundai Verna. We drove the City’s MT as well as the e:HEV variant and were simply awestruck by it all. Here’s a look at what makes the City such a supremely sophisticated and successful sedan…
Right at the beginning, let me tell you that it is difficult to not fall in love with the City’s design. In fact, the City, is one of those exquisitely designed sedans that looks stunning not just when parked, but also while on the move and few sedans out there can do both, the way the City does. Don’t believe us? Take one look around and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. Besides, the brand new ‘Obsidian Blue’ metallic paint, a terrific alternative to the oft seen drab black solid paint on other cars, is absolutely striking. (The pictures may not do it justice; you simply have to see it to believe it.) The ‘Obsidian Blue’ can be a great choice for all those who want a dark-coloured sedan but are not keen on the black colour for its starkness. The ‘Obsidian Blue’ is a deep hue, yet there is a spirit of cheerfulness to the paint which can look serious (not somber) as well as fun (not funky), thereby becoming your day car to drive to work in and your night car whenever you decide to go clubbing. The City can blend into both avatars, seamlessly and have no doubt that the ’Obsidian Blue’ is easily one of the poshest blues around.
The City does get a few stylish design tweaks. For instance, the band of chrome that runs across its fascia, (just above the Honda logo), now looks trimmer thanks to the excess chrome being shaved off by the designers over at Honda. The grille, on the Sport variant, gets a honeycomb design and all the use of black indeed gives the sedan a very sporty look. The LED DRLs and the segment lights lend a very upmarket look to the sedan and the tail lights also look very stylish. The bumper in the front sports a carbon fiber-like finish and juts out slightly adding a few more inches to the sedan. (The City, is 34-inches longer, despite no changes to the wheelbase). We absolutely dig the cuts on it which give the City, a very sharp and edgy look. At the rear the diffuser also gets the same carbon fiber-like treatment and overall, it adds oodles of appeal to the City. The 16-inch dual-tone alloys complete the premium look on the Honda City. There’s also a massive 506-litre boot that you get and that should take care of all your luggage hauling needs.
Inside, not much has changed in terms of appearance of the cabin besides the wooden insert on the dash which looks good. The City gets beige-coloured well-sized seats which we really wish were ventilated. We also love the unique looking headrests for the front seats that provide ample support to the head and neck. The rear seat of the City has always been an extremely spacious and very comfortable place to be in and is hugely popular with people who like to be driven. The only thing I wish the rear seats did not have were the integrated headrests. Apart from that the seating position and the backrest angle are very good and you’re not sat too low or too high, it is just perfect. Even the armrest is a good size and comes with two cupholders. The vents at the rear help with the cooling and despite the beautiful sunroof, the cabin doesn’t get very hot and the air-con does a fine job keeping the cabin really cool, just the way you like it. Not to mention making the interior look even more spacious.
Now, about all the tech on the City. The 8-inch infotainment screen comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can remove the wireless charging tray and put it away when not in use making way for the cup holders. The reverse camera gets an update resulting in enhanced clarity thanks to a sharper display. Then there is my favourite bit of tech on the City – the 7-inch semi-digital instrument cluster with no-fuss, super clean dials and when you start the engine, the way the dials do a full-180 degree check, almost reminds one of a flight instrument panel in the cockpit of an aircraft. Besides, there is also a bunch of car-related info available at your fingertips and it is truly fascinating to know so much about your car’s performance while you’re seated behind the wheel. Now, while not everyone will use all the info available on a daily basis, but the fact that IF you need it at all, it is all available, is definitely reassuring.
We first drove the 4-cylinder, 1.5-Litre (1498cc) petrol engine mated to a 6-Speed MT which belts out 119.35bhp@6600rpm and churns out 145 Nm@4300 rpm of torque. (There is also a CVT on offer). With the new RDE norms kicking in from April 1st, 2023, the City is RDE and E20 compliant which makes it future ready.
Now, Honda cars are meant to be driven a certain way and if you know how, you can make the most of their beautiful engine-gearbox combos, as we did. Of course, you can also drive this lightweight car hard and in fact, the light steering, the 6-Speed gearbox and the 1.5-Litre engine in perfect symphony can be quite entertaining, especially when it involves throwing this car into corners.
The City’s ‘Honda Sensing’ is such a fabulous piece of tech and we were mighty pleased to see it on a sedan in this segment. It does its job brilliantly without failing or seeming overtly obtrusive. When I was in mid-conversation with the other occupant of the car, the steering vibrated to send me the “Lane Departure” warning, which comes through its Lane Departure Mitigation System, when my car had ever so slightly veered off from my lane due to a slight change in the road angle and boy, was I impressed! That was really clever and in a similar manner, the driver can be alerted through other ADAS features about collision, cruise control and high beam warnings, to name a few. Besides, the City comes with 6 airbags, TPMS, ESP, ABS with EBD and Hill Start Assist which basically means you’re practically covered when it comes to safety.
With the City MT getting you 17.8kmpl, the chances of you going wrong with this choice are undoubtedly few especially because the petrol version starts from 11.49 Lakh and goes up to 15.97 Lakh. (The entry-level petrol version does not get Honda Sensing’ features.)
Next, we drove the e:HEV and it now gets the V trim that comes with a slightly reduced price tag (INR 18.89 Lakh; it goes up to 20.39 Lakh.) Full points to Honda for offering something so sophisticated and stylish with such futuristic technology at this price point. On the outside the Elegant variant can be distinguished by the slats instead of the honeycomb mesh on the front fascia and then there are also the diamond cut alloys lthat give the e:HEV a very sophisticated look and they look really good when the sedan is in motion. The only sacrifice that you have to make with the e:HEV is make do with a smaller boot because the battery pack eats into the boot space and what you get is 306-Litres only as compared to the 506-Litres of boot space as seen on the MT version.
Inside, the seats are grey instead of beige and the dash gets a Carbonfiber finish as compared to the wooden finish seen earlier.
The e:HEV gets the 4-cylinder, 1.5-Litre (1498cc) i-VTEC engine (Atkinson Cycle) that belts out 124.276bhp@5600-6400rpm and 253Nm@3000rpm At work is a 14.5 kg, 0.73kWh Li-On battery which sends power to the wheels along with a motor generator that powers the battery via the petrol engine. The e:HEV is a supremely refined car with instant response which can be experienced the minute you press the throttle… which people are increasingly beginning to appreciate.
To begin with we started off driving the e:HEV in the EV mode, which is what it starts off in and is an absolute breeze until you hit the 40 kmph mark which basically means it is good enough for city driving and then as we went beyond the 40kmph mark and accelerated some more, the e:HEV smoothly moved into the hybrid mode and the more we accelerated after that which is beyond the 80kmph mark, that’s when the e:HEV went into ICE mode and was being powered by the engine. The best part was that all of this happened so seamlessly that we didn’t even realize anything. Of course, a glance at the instrument cluster will give you all the info you may need but otherwise, the technology feels so superior and so refined that you don’t even pause for a single second to check for any lag at all.
So, just why would you buy the e:HEV? Well, all those who’re looking for something that is super refined, super sophisticated, on the lookout for something with the latest tech and desire something that also offers great bang for your buck in terms of FE (Fuel Efficiency) (27.3kmpl) they’re the ones who’re definitely going to be making a beeline for it.
We had a blast driving the facelifted versions of the City (MT and the e:HEV) and now that we know what they look, feel and drive like, we just can’t wait to explore more with their fabulous and technologically advanced cars.