More often than not, when reliability and resale value are brought up, excitement often isn’t mentioned at all. For the longest time ever, Honda has been churning out cars that has been reliable, but far from setting pulses racing. That being said, Honda’s Type R range is a whole different entity all-together…
In case anyone’s wondering, the Honda City isn’t here to set pulses racing. The small B-segment sedan from Honda is the company’s entry-level sedan that is aimed at first time Honda buyers. But, beyond its entry-level preposition, is the Honda City actually fun to drive?
To be honest, the Honda City does a lot of things right. The City offers stellar fuel efficiency with ample grunt from its small 1.5-litre i-VTEC mill that pushes out 120 PS at 6,600 rpm and 145 Nm at 4,600 rpm. Fuel consumption is also partly aided by the use of the Earth Dreams Technology CVT that drives the front wheels.
For starters, the City offers excellent practicality in its small body. Cup holders and cubbyholes are aplenty, so there won’t be an issue for owners to position little items throughout the entire cabin. Sure, the City does fall short in some aspects, like the lack of flexibility of the rear seats the Jazz offers (The 2003 Honda City had that). For some odd reason, the City’s rear seat release is placed in the boot, unlike the top of the back seats found on other cars.
Furthermore, in the range-topping City V we tried, there is a provision of three 12V power outlets, which should be ample for the battery-hungry devices of today. Apart from that, there are two USB ports up front for charging duties too.
Practicality aside, the Honda City, in its top trim level, offers one of the best safety kit in its segment, which includes Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), six airbags, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Emergency Stop Signal and Honda’s ACE body structure. It is safe to say that thus far, none of the City’s rivals come close to offer what the City offers in terms of safety. The little City also fared extremely well in the ASEAN NCAP crash tests, scoring 15.80 points out of a maximum of 16 points.
Elsewhere, thanks to its lightweight body coupled with Honda’s proven powertrain combination, the City is very frugal. On highway drives, expect the little sedan to achieve up to 20 km/L, which is impressive for a non-hybrid. Higher figures can be achieved through means of carrying less passengers or carefully selecting your route.
On the move, the City’s comfort-biased suspension set up does a decent job of soaking up road irregularities, though the low profile tyres may send the occasional judder to the cabin. One thing that was apparent during my time with the City was the amount of leaning the City’s body suffered had when taking corners. The City’s tall body and shocks makes it apparent that the City was never meant to tackle corners enthusiastically.
Despite that, the little City redeems itself with its excellent CVT and sufficiently powered engine. While naysayers will snigger at the mention of a CVT, Honda’s implementation of it has been one of, if not, the best CVT I have sampled. While earlier CVTs were known for their dreaded rubber-band effect, the Earth Dreams Technology CVT in the City does a swell job of mimicking a conventional automatic transmission. It was that good, that my dad had the impression that the City used a regular automatic transmission. Kick down is rewarded by the City keeping revs at a certain rpm, with speeds steadily building up.
For the keener drivers, the City lacks the paddle shifters that the predecessor offered. While paddle shifters mated to a CVT may sound daft, it does offer some benefits. One crucial point is that drivers can choose to hold a certain gear (ratio) for a desired time, as opposed to just sticking the gear selector the S.
Even with the throttle mashed to the metal, the City’s NVH levels are impressive. Engine noises are well suppressed for a car of this segment, while road and wind noises are also well insulated from the cabin. Road noises were only noticeable when road surfaces was less than ideal. Even so, conversation between passengers was never an issue in the City.
So to answer the big question. Is the Honda City a fun car to drive? Looking beyond its body roll and less-than-sporty CVT, the Honda City is definitely a nice car to drive around town. If need be, the City also excels in highway cruising. But when the roads get twisty, shifting to S may elevate some pain of not having paddle shifters. Sure, having paddle shifters is a novelty, which will wear out eventually. For what its worth, the City’s S mode may be what drivers actually need, rather than wanting those paddle shifters.
Many thanks to Honda Malaysia for loaning us the City for the festive season!
2014 Honda City Grade V Photo Gallery