Intro: The City has been one of the most successful models plying on Indian roads. It all started in 1998 when we got to see the 1st gen City, in the journey ahead we saw that with every upgrade there was something unique on offer. The first three generations were all built and revamped contributing to establishing the City’s pedigree. The 4th generation came in more like an evolution, but thanks to add-on’s and the option of a diesel engine, nothing could stop it from being the most successful model since its inception. What’s left to find out is whether this new-gen City has in it to carry forward the City’s legacy? To answer that we first need to understand that this new City is based on a modified version of the earlier City, the structure is high-tensile-strength steel which has a stiffer roof section. Since it has grown in size, there is an increase in interior space, add to that an extended dose of tech features like – lane watch camera, Alexa voice assistant integration, etc. Powering the car is the new DOHC 1.5 liter which is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, there is an option for CVT too. The old City’s diesel engine is a carry forward too which is found in the new diesel with additional improvements. This then makes the diesel more refined than before and it also adheres to BS6 emission norms. A thought that comes to mind is how the City will fare against other mid-size cars which have witnessed major revamps be it the – new Ciaz, the new Verna, not to forget the upgraded Vento and Rapid.
Exterior: It looks like an evolution from the previous model, and the overall design and shape will remind you of the previous car. The new City is lengthier and wider than before, but it is shorter height-wise. Honda’s front chrome bar is now thicker with top strip stretching across the width of the nose. The sharp-looking headlights with their multiple reflectors and intricate detailing look brilliant. The side profile is smart but the wheels do look tiny in contrast to the overall size of the vehicle. When viewed from the side, you will notice the enormous length of the new City which tends to be longer than the 1st gen Civic. Talking about proportions, although the longer bonnet and chunky bumper give it a hefty appearance, the front overhang is nonetheless evident. The shoulder line has been moved further up which runs along the length of the car. What’s also impressive are the City’s 3D looking tail lights which look very striking and the blacked-out elements look very neat. Another interesting element is the vertical reflector strips that sit inside a sculpted housing in the rear bumper. The persona is not outlandish but contemporary.
Interior: The cabin looks premium and the light brown and black interior is welcoming. The plastics are of good quality but are too shiny. Softer textures could have uplifted the entire cabin experience. Light brown leather on the seats, door trims, and center console add to the premium touch of the cabin. The well-sculpted seats are welcoming, providing great support. The previous generation City had a great seat behind and the generosity is carried forward in this new-gen City as well. The wide and deep seat base can comfortably accommodate three people abreast. The headroom can be a problem for tall people. There are plenty of storage places as well, in the front compartment there are two slots on either side of the parking brake lever. At the rear, you can find, handy felt-lined pockets sewn into the front seatbacks. At 506 liters, boot space is adequate too.
Features: The list includes – sunroof, a lane watch camera, a rear-view camera with normal, wide and top view, a tire pressure monitoring system with deflation warning, front side and curtain airbags, and auto climate control that thankfully doesn’t get touch-operated buttons but neat knurled knobs. The steering wheel too has controls including a roller switch that lets you access various features of the instrument panel. You also get an analog speedometer needle that runs across a digital dial on the 7-inch screen. The tachometer is an all-digital display and the screen can also display a G-force meter and another trip-related information. The bright and sharp instrument cluster is not hard to read like it is in the Verna. The touch screen though does not have as much clarity as in the instrument cluster. The brightness of the screen is a point of botheration perhaps due to a coating of optical bonding application. The infotainment system houses all the usual connectivity bits like – Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You also get the regular bits like remote engine start and pre-cooling, the major takeaway is the Alexa voice assistant integration. You can simply ask Alexa to pre-cool the cabin or get you details of the fuel level in the car or its current position.
Petrol – Being a Honda, the engine is usually a prime focus. Powering the car is the new DOHC 1.5 liter petrol which is a real delight. It is not punchy like a turbo, but it is strong and tractable. At low revs, it pulls the car cleanly even when engaged on a higher gear. The engine revs freely until the 7000 rpm mark. Due to the taller gear ratios, you can gain higher speeds at each gear. This means that you can hit 150 km/h while still at 3rd gear. Honda claims that it returns fuel figures of 17.8 for the manual and 18.4 for the automatic. The engine does make a loud noise at 3000rpm. The car clocks a 0-100 sprint in 10.2 seconds. The CVT does it in 12.05 seconds. The rubber band effect you get in CVT’s is not evident here, you can engage the paddles and have proper manual control over shifts with the CVT allowing you to redline too. Under hard braking, the CVT shifts too much lower gear ratios thus providing engine braking.
Diesel– The diesel is tractable from lower revs and turbo lag is minimal. The engine tends to feel less responsive below the 1500 mark but when you cross the 1500 mark, it is not a sudden spike but a quick step up in pace. Power builds evenly up to 4200 marks. The diesel does a 0-100 sprint in 12.9 seconds, and as with other BS6 engines fuel figures have dropped and it returns 24.1 km/l.
Ride: The stiffer body and the softer suspension setup allows the City to soak up all the potholes and rough patches. The ride quality is impressive much like a European sedan. Even at higher speeds, the car feels well composed. But push it to the max and the City does not feel very planted. Handling is good and it feels very easy to drive. The steering is nicely weighted and you get a good grip from the tires. There is a bit of body roll on account of its softer suspension.
Should you have one: This is not outrightly different from its predecessors. That being said the cabin and interior are the City’s greatest stronghold. A bucket load of features allows this car to be a very feature-laden car with the Alexa integration being the pick of the lot. Space and overall practicality is commendable and is best in class. The drive and mannerism are good but rivals tend to pull out better performance figures. To sum up it’s not as sporty as one would imagine it to be and if you are on the lookout for a comfortable mile muncher the City priced at Rs. 9.91 lakh would not disappoint.