Automobile Review | First Drive: Honda City facelift is comfortable, fun to drive

PUNE: The Japanese automaker Honda has introduced the 5th generation Honda City sedan, its bread-and-butter model in India. It is essentially the car that has kept Honda's cash register ticking for more than 20 years in the fiercely competitive Indian car mart.

Three years after its launch in 2020, Honda has also given this segment’s bestseller a makeover, introduced more affordable variants for both petrol and hybrid, and also added some new features.

Honda has updated the petrol and hybrid avatar of City to meet the soon-to-be-implemented Real Driving Emissions (RDE) norms and make its engine compatible with E20 fuel (20 per cent ethanol blended petrol).

The Exteriors

With a mid-life update, Honda has given the 2023 City a noticeable exterior cosmetic refresh, which has given it a sporty appearance. With the reworked grille, a new design for the 16-inch alloy wheels and the subtle styling tweaks, the City now gets enhanced appeal. At the front, there is a new radiator grille and a redesigned bumper. At the rear there is a new bumper with a larger faux diffuser which houses the reflectors. The car gets the 16-inch new alloys with 185/55 R16 tyres but wider tyres would have completed the look of this otherwise well-proportioned sedan. With the facelift, even the petrol version gets a boot lip spoiler, which was earlier offered only on the hybrid. Thus, there is little visual differentiation between the petrol and the hybrid version – the hybrid gets Honda logos (front and back) bordered in blue, an “e:HEV” badge on the boot, and rear disc brakes.

The Interiors

City’s interiors have remained largely the same, with minor tweaks. Carbon fibre pattern on the dash is noticeable instead of the previous wood pattern element in e:HEV. Infotainment system is updated, and rear camera resolution has improved. Honda has also added ambient lights to enhance cabin experience for passengers. City’s seats are plush and supportive. However, ventilated seats would have enhanced comfort. While the petrol version’s interior remains virtually unchanged except for some new feature additions. In place of the front cupholders sits a detachable wireless charging pad, which can be tucked into the glovebox when not in use. Then, there are the ADAS-specific changes, which include buttons on the steering wheel and displays on the part-digital instrument cluster. The 8-inch touchscreen has been updated with newer software and better resolution. While the user interface is still rather basic, it finally packs in wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Advanced Driver Assistance System

City facelift now comes with significant technological and safety updates, especially the Honda Sensing technology in the petrol-powered models. Unlike previous years where the feature was reserved for top-end trims, Honda Sensing is now offered as standard from the V trim. It makes City petrol the first sedan in its segment to get Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) functionality. City uses a front wide view camera mounted on the windshield to capture information from the road, providing a range of useful features. Safety suite includes Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning with Road Departure Mitigation System, Lead Car Departure Notification System, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Auto High Beam. The lane-keeping assist function detects when the vehicle is veering off its lane, and the system will warn the driver and even make corrective steering adjustments to get back into the lane. The e:HEV models now also come with Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed follow, which is particularly useful in city traffic. These features work together to ensure maximum safety and driving comfort, making City facelift an ideal choice for drivers who value advanced technology and safety in their vehicles. The Honda City facelift comes in three different versions: petrol manual, CVT petrol, and e:HEV. All three models have their own strengths, with the petrol manual offering a fun driving experience with iVTEC, and the CVT petrol being more suitable for relaxed driving. The e:HEV, which has crazy fuel efficiency as we managed 30 kmpl, and good performance, is a sensible and unique option.

The Drive Experience

City drives in a very smooth and confidence-inspiring manner and cushions passengers even from the rough road stuff. The NVH (the noise, vibration and harshness from the outside) levels are comfortable, but during drive mode transition, the e:HEV can get a little louder. While the petrol manual is a great option for a semi-luxurious ride, the CVT petrol is better suited for relaxed driving. The e:HEV is a sensible and unique option, with its excellent fuel efficiency and good performance.

Al in all, City facelift offers upgrades and improvements over its pre-facelift version, with each of the three models having their own strengths as per one’s driving needs. Honda City 1.5L petrol engine is perfect for city and highway driving, with an impressive fuel efficiency of 17.8-18.4 km/l. The model is available in a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with 7-speed manual mode, providing smoother gear changes and improved fuel efficiency compared to traditional automatic transmissions.

City hybrid too has outstanding fuel efficiency, emitting only 89.5 g/km CO2 and claiming an impressive 27.13 km/l. The hybrid system combines a maximum power output of 93 kW (126 PS) for smooth acceleration. Petrol fuel tank capacity is 40 litres, and the Honda Two-Motor Electric-Hybrid system delivers 253 Nm of torque.

Should I buy it?

Overall, the updates, changes and new features make City more competitive in this segment and the car is likely to maintain its position as the segment leader. Honda has made a smart move to update City as its rival the next-generation Hyundai Verna is slated to be launched this month. Undoubtedly, City is comfortable and fun to drive. With a starting price at Rs 11.49 lakh for the base model and going up to Rs 20.39 lakh for the top-end at Delhi showroom, it would not be a tough choice to decide.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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