Why I would buy it?
- Updated feature list
- Interior space
Why I would avoid it?
- No diesel engine option anymore
- Missing some new-age features
Ride and handling
As a car to drive, the City, even in this facelifted guise has not changed much over its predecessor. The steering is light and easy to use but does not have enough feel, or for that matter, doesn’t weigh up properly. It rides very nicely flattening most of the obstacles with no issues concerning ground clearance. However, it does tend to get noisy especially if the path in front of you is broken up or with big potholes.
Engine and Performance
We drove the CVT-powered model and as a gearbox to use, it is smooth and does its thing in the background. If you need a bit of extra punch, it is best to put the box in sport mode and let it rev so that you are in the meat of the torque band. It’s a stepped CVT and this means you get the full involved-driving experience when using the paddle shifters, which, by the way, are very responsive and do well to add to the driving experience.
However, with a limited amount of torque, it’s not lighting fast and you will start to want a bit more pulling power especially if the going gets fast and curvy. Finally, Honda has ditched its mighty 1.5-litre diesel engine in favour of a petrol-only line-up. You now get a lower-spec hybrid variant which has arrived in a similar price bracket to the mid-level diesel-powered models.
Last year, with the City e:HEV, Honda introduced its Honda Sensing ADAS technology with the City family of cars. It has now expanded the suite to cover all versions of the sedan. You now get ADAS on all versions of the City excluding the new base SV petrol manual variant. The ADAS, despite being camera-based, is impressive, to say the least, providing functions like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, auto high beam and collision mitigation braking system. They have added two more features in the form of lead car departure and low-speed follow. The former gives you a warning when the car in front of you has moved forward, a feature useful at signals and crossings. The latter is a function of the adaptive cruise control system and gives you the ability to follow a car at a lesser distance including the ability to come to a complete halt if necessary. This is once again useful in heavy stop-and-go traffic. We have discovered in our previous experiences with the Honda Sensing ADAS system that it’s pretty intelligent and can detect quite a few objects irrespective of their size and speed.
As we said earlier, its capability to micro-manage some of the more mundane aspects of the driving experience makes it a useful tool. Honda’s move to offer it across the table means it is no longer a choice that the buyer needs to make concerning the car’s features and safety package. It’s even available with the manual transmission versions of the City. While we didn’t get to test that out during our first drive experience, we will get the car for a longer period at a later date and will be able to tell you what this combination is like to use.
As is the case with a mid-life update, Honda has given the 2023 City a noticeable exterior cosmetic refresh and this has given it a sporty appearance. Up front, it gets a new grille with a diamond chequered flag pattern with a revised front bumper taken from the Asian-spec City RS. This look now ties in well with the appearance of the full LED headlamps that you get with the top-of-the-line ZX variant. On the side, Honda has fitted this facelift of the City with new 16-inch diamond-cut alloys. This design is only available on the top-spec ZX trim and the lower versions get white colour alloy wheels or silver-coloured wheel covers.
At the rear Honda has fitted the City with a lip spoiler and this chunky exhaust with these elements meant to mimic the air splitter from a race car. The funky-looking tail lamps have a Z pattern in their overall design. Additionally, the City is now available with a new Obsidian Blue exterior paint to distinguish itself from the outgoing model. Overall, the updates to the City on the outside, while minor, do lend the sedan a refreshed look and will make it a noticeable commodity in the ranks of the sedan fight.
Comfort, Convenience and Features
Honda has added a lengthy list of feel-good features for this top-spec model that we are looking at today. This list includes the likes of auto headlamps, auto-dimming IRVM, rain-sensing wipers, wireless charging and smartphone connectivity, electric sunroof, full colour MID, ambient lighting, window and sunroof control from the keyfob, walk away auto lock and LED interior lights. There’s also a comprehensive connected car suite called Honda Connect that offers over 60 functions across parameters like safety, functional and driver assessment. However, in our books, while this does well to bring the City up to snuff, the car is missing features like ventilated seats, a power function for the driver’s seat, a 360-degree camera and a HUD.
On the safety front, all versions get six airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control programme, ESP and ISOFIX child seat mounting points. At the time of this review, the fifth-generation Honda City had not been tested for a GNCAP crash safety rating. Excluding the base SV MT model, all versions of the Honda City now get Honda Sensing ADAS technology, The overall dimensions, layout, elements and colour schemes have not changed for this top-spec ZX CVT petrol that we have driven for our review experience. However, the V hybrid now gets an all-black cabin while the ZX hybrid gets faux carbon fibre inserts on the dashboard.
Conclusion and rivals
The Honda City in this fifth generation was already a pretty competent car and these mid-life updates, especially the feel-good features, do well to bring the car back into the competition once again. It is still lacking a few pricing-expected features and the quality of the interiors does feel a segment lower especially when it is almost the same for the lower spec and the top-of-the-line variants. The loss of the diesel engine is expected to be an initial hit for Honda but in the long run, a larger focus on hybrids will give them the first-mover advantage. Honda’s Sensing ADAS technology was a revelation when it was launched last year with the City e:HEV. The addition of the two new features of low-speed follow and lead car departure adds a lot of value to a useful piece of technology that the City range now has common across its variant list.
Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi