Car Reviews

2017 Honda City review

Honda gives the City a fresh face and updated interiors to keep it going in the competitive C segment

What is it?

While you might be wondering what has gone into the ‘New City’, let’s get something clear — it isn’t really all-new. What this is, is a facelift — a mid-life refresh to keep the City relevant.

This is the fourth generation City and was launched in 2014, but it was showing its age. Rivals like the Ciaz were nibbling away at its market share and with a new Verna around the corner, Honda needed to keep eyeballs trained towards the City. This update hopes to keep it fresh until the next generation City arrives.

Right, so what’s changed? Firstly, there is the arrival of a new variant — the ZX that sits at the top of the City range now. However, there are numerous updates that have gone in to making the car look contemporary as well.

So what’s new?
The front profile gets the most updates. The headlamps have been changed, as has the bumper, grille and bonnet. The headlamps now have LED DRLs and house LED headlamps. There are more LEDs as well, in the fog lamps and on the tail lamps in the rear. The grille now gets an additional thinner chrome strip at the bottom, complimenting the chunky signature Honda chrome strip in the centre rather nicely. The bumper has been reshaped as well, made a little more angular and the lines on the bonnet are sharper. The wheels on the higher end variants are now larger — with 16-inchers replacing the 15s on the older car. Overall, the changes intend to lend premium feel to the car and the new car certainly looks it. The changes look good in the flesh — the iconic shape of the car hasn’t changed but the details certainly lend an air of sophistication.

There are changes on the inside as well, the highlight being the new Digipad touchscreen infotainment system. The system certainly has no lack of connectivity options — 2 micro SD card slots, 2 USB ports, an HDMI input and 1.5GB of internal memory. All this, plus it can connect to the internet through a dongle or Wi-Fi, and it can integrate with your Android smartphone through MirrorLink.

 

But does it drive any different?

The car has remained the same for the most part. The same engines have been carried over — the 1.5-litre petrol engine and 1.5-litre diesel engine — from the older car. The petrol comes with a five-speed manual as standard, but gets the option of a CVT while the diesel is only available with a six-speed manual. We drove the petrol CVT and the diesel manual in the ZX trim. The petrol engine is still lovely — it makes 117bhp and 145Nm and is superbly refined, though the CVT does tend to have the rubber band effect inherent in it. You do get paddles though, so you do have a certain measure of control over how the ‘box behaves. The diesel makes 99bhp and 200Nm, and is the same engine in the BR-V that is notorious for its clatter and noise. Honda claimed to have reduced NVH levels using better insulation. While the engine is still an irritant in the cabin, other ambient noise from traffic and the likes has reduced. Ride quality is just like the older City’s — it is soft and designed to be comfortable over the bumpy roads of our city. It soaks up most undulations without an issue, with only really harsh stuff unsettling it. The steering is vague and not particularly confidence inspiring and the soft suspension means it doesn’t have the same intent going around bends as its European rivals.

However, the cabin is a nicer place to be. The new touchscreen is available on all variants except the base S and SX variants is a handy unit to have one board. It’s got a high-resolution display which is rather responsive to touch and isn’t frustrating to use. The interface is simple to navigate through and offers a lot of connectivity — you can even use it as a browser courtesy the Wi-Fi connectivity but we don’t recommend you do so while driving. The screen also doubles up as a reversing camera, though Honda hasn’t provided any sensors to go along with it. Small touches to the interiors make it a lot more premium — the top-of-the-line car now gets automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers and automatic folding mirrors. The buttons on the steering are well damped and don’t feel plastic-y and cheap. Honda have upped the ante on the safety front as well — while all variants get ABS with EBD and dual airbags, the ZX variant now gets a total of six airbags.

Should I get one?

The updates to the City are welcome and the prices of the lower variants haven’t increased too much — they are almost on par with the pre-facelift prices. The updates do lend some modernity in to the City line up, but the changes aren’t drastic. While the City has always been a tad more expensive than its rivals like the Ciaz and the Verna, the addition of the new top-of-the-line ZX variant to the line-up has pushed the City’s prices further up. When compared to the top-spec Ciaz (Petrol, AT), the City is Rs 3.5 lakh more expensive and when compared to the Verna (diesel, manual, it costs Rs 1.22 lakh more. The City is asking for more, but it is a well packaged, fool proof product. It has far more presence than before, has ample space on the inside, boasts of a rather long equipment list and comes with Honda’s bulletproof reliability. The City has always sold well for Honda, regardless of the premium it commands and this update should do nothing but cement that position.

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