Honda City Facelift Review & First Drive

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Honda City Overview

Ever since its launch, the City has been a pillar of Honda’s success in India, a darling of the Indian car buyer and, more often than not, the class best-seller. But this title has been under threat lately with stiff competition from Maruti’s Ciaz. Right on cue, Honda has launched the 2017 City with revised styling, new features and a new variant line-up.

The City gets a new top ZX trim which comes only as a petrol automatic or diesel manual; and not as a petrol manual. The ZX brings a number of new and sought-after features to the Honda mid-sizer, which should help it appeal more to those who simply must have the latest kit. Prices for the updated City start at Rs 8.49 lakh for the base petrol and go up to Rs 13.56 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the top end diesel.

Honda City Style

The previous three Honda City looked completely different from each other, like they didn’t belong to the same family. The first gen model was a simple yet good-looking three box car, the second version looked odd because it was more of a hatchback with an added boot than a sedan but the third new model was smart and attractive. This design worked for Honda and is the reason why it has evolved from there to the new City. It’s actually an all new car and shares nothing with the outgoing model but there is a feeling of familiarity. Honda designers have used the new exciting H design language that debuts in India and will soon be seen in the new Jazz.

The new design philosophy’s wing face is clearly seen in the City. It’s dominated by a large chrome strip grille that contrasts well with darker shades while the lower half is the only opening. The grille neatly merges with the sharp headlamps that look very heavily inspired by the new Civic sold internationally. The headlamp itself is split in three sections that accommodate the blinkers, low beam and high beam lamps. The bumper too is angular and features two pointed sections while the fog lamp inserts are large and mimic a sporty air dam. It isn’t an attractive face but quite smart.

Despite the car being exactly the same length as the older City, the car does look slightly longer. This is because the wheelbase has grown by 50mm. The height has gone up slightly as well. However, the gap between the wheel and the arch is slightly on the higher side. While the older City featured a rather flat side, the new car has more character. Just like in the concept, the front fender features a prominent curvy line that runs from the bumper to the front door. It ends there because a deep shoulder line starts at the door and goes all the way to the taillamp. A similar curved line is present on the rear fender too, it flows below the shoulder line to the rear bumper and then drops down to give a it a flat sided look. The roofline slopes down more and the silhouette is more coupe like. The only downside to the side is the wheel design, Citys have had striking wheels in every generation but the new wheels are bland and don’t go well with the car’s styling.

The rear end in our opinion is the most striking side of the car, it is unique and unlike any Honda we’ve seen before. The wraparound tail lights features sharp as well as curved sides that look very European. The unit is much shorter and wider than before and is split in two parts, with one half mounted to the trunk lid. A thin chrome strip neatly sits between the lights while the lower section of the bumper has a lot of lines running across and runs through sleek reflectors. The car’s overall width hasn’t increased and with wider lights and increased height, the car looks narrower than before.Check for Honda City price in Chennai at Tryaldrive.

Honda City Space

Well, inside, Honda has decided to stick with its tried and tested, all-plastic beige-black layout and the cabin will be familiar to previous City owners. Notable changes though include a telescopic- and tilt-adjustable steering which was missing before and should be a boon for taller drivers. Also new is the auto-dimming rear-view mirror which is also frameless and a single touch-operated sunroof has also been added. These features too are available on the higher variants only. The rest, though, is pretty similar. You still get the touch-operated controls of the automatic climate control and the instrument cluster too is pretty similar, albeit with a small update: it now features a white backlight compared to the cool blue lighting in the older car. The start/stop button is also backlit.

Lastly, Honda has also equipped the City with automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers to keep up with the competition. The space inside is ample and the rear can still seat three people in comfort. The kneeroom is adequate and you now also get height-adjustable rear headrests. But anyone over six feet will feel the headroom constraint. Also, the middle ‘seat’ can prove to be uncomfortable on long hauls. Though the cabin of the facelift is quintessentially City and looks as classy as before, the quality of plastics used could have been better. The plastics on the dash and door panels feel rather crude especially when compared to its chief rivals, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and the Hyundai Verna. Both cars make use of hard plastic panels but yet make them feel premium. Though Honda claims the panel above the glove box to be of soft-touch material but it doesn’t feel as premium as it promises.

Oh no, we haven’t even gotten to the party piece yet, which is the new 7.0inch infotainment system called Digipad. This new infotainment system has been developed in-house by Honda’s R&D and is based on the Android platform and is quite user-friendly. The new system features Mirror Link technology along with WiFi connectivity. Although, your phone needs to support Mirror Link, if you want to connect your Android phone to the Digipad. In addition, it can only run apps specific to Mirror Link, which tends to limit the system’s functionality. In addition, the WiFi can only be accessed by a USB dongle which needs to be bought separately. Also, it uses the data from your phone to enable you to access the browser on the system. You do however get two USB ports so the Mirror Link and WiFi can be connected simultaneously.

The Digipad also features a seamless navigation system which is powered by MapMyIndia. The system uses SD card-based maps for navigation and you can also receive live traffic updates if you’re connected to WiFi. You also get an additional SD card slot for playing media, 1.5GB of added internal memory, and even an HDMI port to stream videos from your phone to the screen. Our only gripes with the system however are that it looks like an aftermarket fitment and it doesn’t come with either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The former feature already exists on the Ciaz whereas both will soon feature on the Verna.For more details on Honda City check Kokoliko

Honda City Gearbox

DIESEL

The most important addition to the City however is the diesel motor, it’s the same all aluminium 1.5-litre i-DTEC engine seen in the Amaze and the power figures haven’t changed, max power is 100PS@3600rpm while max torque is 200Nm@1750rpm. However the engine is mated to a new 6-speed manual transmission with optimized gear ratios. Honda engineers felt that the torque was sufficient for the car and have focused more on the driveability and efficiency of the engine. Whether it’s driving in town or on the highway, the engine feels effortless. Turbo lag is minimal and the car accelerates easily in any gear. The gear shifts are notchy but are precise. In terms of performance, the car hits 100kmph in 12.8 seconds. Unlike the Amaze that’s limited to 140kmph, the City diesel maxes out at 163kmph, however compared to competition, the top speed is still much lower. What the car excels in is fuel efficiency, the ARAI claimed figure is a shocking 26kmpl making it more efficient than the Amaze even and as a result, the most fuel efficient car in India.

While both the petrol and diesel variants get added sound and vibration absorption material, the latter gets a lot more. The damper, dashboard, trunk, doors, roof, engine bay and hood get extra insulation. Even the side glass is thicker and different from the petrol variant. All this has definitely helped in keeping the NVH levels low but at idle and higher engine speeds, cabin noise is slightly higher than a few rival diesel cars. The cabin does get quiter as the engine settles down.

PETROL

The petrol City uses the same L15A i-VTEC engine seen in the earlier model but receives a few updates. Power has improved slightly while efficiency has gone up too. This has been possible by optimizing the valve timing and the use of a double needle plug. The piston gets a special coating to help reduce friction. Max power is now 119PS@6600rpm while maximum torque of 145Nm is available at 4600rpm. The engine is a rev happy unit and redlines at 6800rpm. Power delivery is impressive and performance is still best in segment. The 5-speed manual transmission is the same slick unit seen before but with changes made to the gear ratios. The sprint to 100kmph now comes up in just 10.67 seconds making it quicker than the previous City by a second almost.

An automatic variant is also on offer but unlike the previous generation car that used a 5-speed automatic transmission with a torque convertor, the new City automatic features a CVT. The new transmission has been developed using Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology. The unit is light and compact and is claimed to improve fuel efficiency and acceleration. Paddle shifters are standard and can be used in either D or S mode, the shifts are quick and there is hardly any delay in upshifts as well as downshifts. In S mode, one can even shift gears at the redline. Acceleration is impressive too, the car crosses 100kmph in 12.3 seconds making it one of the quickest automatic cars in the segment. The automatic variant gets an ECON button similar to the CR-V that helps improve fuel economy. Surprisingly the ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 17.9kmpl is 0.1kmpl more than the MT variant.

Honda City Riding

With no mechanical changes to the suspension either, the ride remains largely the same, which is to say agreeable by class standards, but not the class best. There’s still a fair bit of roll around corners and the ride quality can get a bit choppy at times. The top ZX variants do get new 16-inch alloys and wider tyres, and thankfully they don’t seem to have hurt the ride quality at all. As for the handling, we didn’t get much of a chance to test it on Delhi’s wide, smooth and straight roads, so the verdict is still out on that one.

Honda City Safety

Yes, safety has been upgraded and is one of the key points of the new Honda City. The entire lineup now gets ABS, EBD and dual front airbags as standard. Rear ISOFIX child seat mounts are also standard across the range. The top of the line ZX variants now also feature side and curtain airbags, which brings the total tally to six which is now on par with the rivals.

Honda City Cost in Chennai

Honda City On Road Price is 10,31,730/- and Ex-showroom Price is 8,97,500/- in Chennai. Honda City comes in 5 colours, namely Carnelian Red Pearl,Alabaster Silver Metallic,Golden Brown Mettalic,Modern Steel Metallic,White Orchid Pearl. Honda City comes with FWD with 1497 CC Displacement and 4 Cylinders with Maximum Power 117 bhp@6600 rpm and Peak Torque 145 Nm@4600 rpm DRIVE TRAIN FWD and reaches 100 KMPH at N/A . Honda City comes with Manual Transmission with FWD .

Honda City Final Thought

The Honda City has always been a great buy for the Indian buyer, thanks to strong core values. Reliability, performance, space, comfort and premium feel meant that if it ever wasn’t the class benchmark, it always came very close. With the new 2017 City, Honda has gone even more premium and sophisticated, especially with the new ZX variant.This definitely shows in the pricing, where the City is now easily the most expensive car in its class.

In fact, the City’s diesel top-end ZX variant is roughly around Rs 1.2 lakh more expensive than an equivalent Verna, and a whopping Rs 4 lakh more than the Ciaz’s top variant! So Honda’s premium pricing is certainly back, but is it worth it this time around? While some of the new additions are new to the segment, most are now par for the course. So while it is a more appealing package overall, Honda will have to once again rely on the City’s brand clout and core strengths to pull this one off. Let’s wait and watch.