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Old 8th October 2004, 00:45   #1
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Default Honda City Vtec-20000 km report - updated to 61500km

After a few cramped long trips in my Zen, it was time to reconsider things. Our luggage was growing out of proportion and I started carrying my golf clubs all over the place. The Zen had completed 42000 km and would need a new clutch and tyres plus some clean up of the bodywork in the near future – so it was spend 50k and keep for a few years or bite the bullet, so I decided the latter.

The car needed to have good acceleration, room for luggage and be a joy to drive and so, it was a choice of :


Fiat Adventure – I nearly went for this but dealer would not budge on price, and was concerned about stretching the brand – 7.5 lakh for a Fiat? Interiors were a bit iffy

Fiat Palio S10 – ditto above - after seeing Amit’s deal and secondhand values, I was glad

Toyota MR2 – no room for luggage but I thought what the hell, somehow buy an old three box later – in another story on this forum, this car was badly rogerred – end of story

Skoda - too expensive, iffy dealer network

Used Honda City – too expensive when you look at second hand interest rates and life cycle costs

Used Honda Vtec – saw one 30km example + subwoofer going for 8l , I calculated that it would cost Rs 50000 more than a new one to run over five years

Lancer – briefly considered a purple SLX going for 6.25 but naaaaaa

So what the hell go buy a new one – I thought of a 1.5 + lots of goodies but you can never retrofit the Vtec engine. I got Rs 25000 +full no claims on my insurance leading to a whopping Rs 50000 discount which made the Vtec a compelling proposition

September 5th 2002, I test drove one, it was a little jerky at low speeds but with a little skill one could get around that and so I decided to order one a week later. We decided on black – it looked really mean

The selling process was fine, they came and picked up the cheques, I got the number that I wanted (daughters b’day) without any extra cost.

We picked up the car on Sept 28th 2002. Immediate impressions were a lot stiffer and smoother than the Zen. It did not feel all the more bigger. For the first 1500 km, I did not strain the engine but some people say that giving a lot of stick is the best thing for running in.

Car did wonders for my image, the watchmen and drivers started salaaming me as I was the new dada on the block .This lasted for 2 months then my neighbours BMW740 arrived! At work, a lot of people thought that I was very senior (that helped). It is the only Vtec in the company so that tells you how boring IT geeks are ! (I am not one). Assessing various parameters:


Performance – The torque is “ barely adequate” , an NHC can lick me to 40kmh because of the low end torque. I find that I keep the car in third on open roads in town, gives me the right amount of torque to control the car when the engine is around 2500 RPM. The car is at its best on windy roads requiring dynamic speed changes. Check out my driving notes to Kerala for more. Got overtaken by a Scorpio on an uphill road. Can pink if one floors the pedal too fast. Speed 93 helps a lot. When I set off at 5.00 am for golf, a lot of my buddies mention that I really fly so maybe it goes faster than it actually seems !

Steering – Responsive but understeery unless at speed

Handling - Pretty good but not the best – the tyres “baleno’ise the potential of the car

Suspension – really tough, larger dia wheels help cope with potholes

Ride – Rear axle tramps about so my wife says

Gearshift – slick but stiff in the morning shifting from ½ to ¾ plane

Bodywork – lightweight but stiff – Black not recommended if you have a half wit that will not learn how to wash a car properly –there is a big difference when he washes and I was. I autoglym it every six months.

Brakes – powerful but rear end breaks away under heavy breaking

A/c - powerful at front and ineffective behind – people keep asking whether I put it on !

Service – they do what they say but you got to question the bill as the they can add stuff not recorded in the job card. Drivers not always on time to pick up. Costs are low 20k service came to Rs 3200 less than my wife’s 800.

Biggest regret – should have put better tyres on .

This car needs better rubber to bring the best out of it and so some introspection….

Is this the best car that I have ever had ? No - the Peugeot 309 is the best handling fwd I have ever driven

Is this car fulfill your needs – As a City runabout, yes – it is compact and rapid

Is this car a mile muncher on the highway ? It does the job but peaky engine and simple suspension can make it frantic (plus my press-on driving style). The low end torque is sorely missed !

Then why do I like this car so much ? It is eager, it accelerates like a scalded cat and sips v little petrol – it is an optimized package for town

Would I buy one again ? I rest my case until I change the tyres but a Skoda 1.8blitz might tempt me. There is still no Indian car that can give the same raw driving pleasure

Don’t misunderstand me. I love the car a lot but the French can teach Honda a thing or two in the suspension/ride department.

What is in my power to improve the beast ? Good set of tubeless tyres – a plus size will do, done enough research to realize that anything more is a diminishing return and may be a suspension brace – I believe these do wonder to handling


So summarizing

Likes – Great package, outstanding quality, raw driving pleasure , good performance / economy
Cons – Lack of low down torque, crude rear suspension, low speed understeer, poor tyres











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Old 8th October 2004, 00:54   #2
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Great review ajmat. One of the best and most realistic i've read about the vtec!! I think you are totally spot on with all your points, both the good as well as the bad!

Rt
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Old 8th October 2004, 00:56   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]We picked up the car on Sept 28th 2002
Exactly i year after i picked mine. Sept 27 2001. Well almost exact. LOL

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Old 8th October 2004, 01:11   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Steering – Responsive but understeery unless at speed
Usually, what people do is that they fit broader tyres up front and thinner ones at the back, this give the car a better hold on the front and dismisses any possiblity of understeer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Brakes – powerful but rear end breaks away under heavy breaking
I've never xperienced the end breaking away. Does it happen when you brake at an angle or in a straight line?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Gearshift – slick but stiff in the morning shifting from ½ to ¾ plane
I have trouble getting it into reverse. But once the components are to temperature, it becomes smooth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Is this car fulfill your needs – As a City runabout, yes – it is compact and rapid
With a turning radius of 4.8 mtrs, it sure is easy to drive in the city.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Is this the best car that I have ever had ? No - the Peugeot 309 is the best handling fwd I have ever driven
Wow, didn't know that. Uncle has a 309, time i paid him a visit. Hehe Your were talking about the Indian version right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Costs are low 20k service came to Rs 3200 less than my wife’s 800.
Think mine came to around 2,990, pretty close.

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Old 8th October 2004, 01:33   #5
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Really great review Ajmat

Prior to driving GTO's VTEC, my only experience was with the dealer car for a 15 minute roundabout. And trust me, i felt that the 80-90k that one spent over the 1.5 was utter waste of money. Only to be wronged two years later after i drove GTO's VTEC. Its a car that even at 5-5500 rpm makes u wonder whether its time to upshift while you have another 1500-2000 rpm odd left to go.

Its one of the very few driver oriented cars in India, the only others i can think of are the 1.8 RS (which i am yet to drive), Forester, 1.6 GTX and new accord. Yup, slightly fatter rubber should kill all signs of understeer, paying a visit to your European tyre cousins should help grip matters.

Maybe Honda could have done something with that slightly stiff and cramped rear seat and the suspensions. O/wise pretty much a car to hold on for years to come.

Hope to become a Honda owner sooner than later.

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Old 8th October 2004, 10:06   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] (Shan2nu @ Oct. 07 2004,23:41)]
Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Brakes – powerful but rear end breaks away under heavy breaking
I've never xperienced the end breaking away. Does it happen when you brake at an angle or in a straight line?

This happens in a straight line when breaking really hard

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Gearshift – slick but stiff in the morning shifting from ½ to ¾ plane
I have trouble getting it into reverse. But once the components are to temperature, it becomes smooth.

Agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Is this car fulfill your needs – As a City runabout, yes – it is compact and rapid
With a turning radius of 4.8 mtrs, it sure is easy to drive in the city.

It actually is more manouverable than the Zen !!!!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Is this the best car that I have ever had ? No *- the Peugeot 309 *is the best handling fwd *I have ever driven
Wow, didn't know that. Uncle has a 309, time i paid him a visit. Hehe Your were talking about the Indian version right?

No, I had a 309SRi (Pug 205GTI mechanicals in a 309 body) - it was the ultimate stealth car - actually kept up with a Ferrari GTO (1965 one) on an A road. Next best handling fwd car driven is the Ford Focus then the VW Golf 2 GTi's in my humble opinion



Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Costs are low *20k service came to Rs 3200 less than my wife’s 800.
Think mine came to around 2,990, pretty close.

thats inflation buddy !
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Old 8th October 2004, 10:09   #7
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[quote=Revvmaster,Oct. 08 2004,00:03]Prior to driving GTO's VTEC, my only experience was with the dealer car for a 15 minute roundabout. And trust me, i felt that the 80-90k that one spent over the 1.5 was utter waste of money. O

I wondered about that as I managed to save Rs 50000, The money budgeted for alloys and subwoofer could be spent on the Vtec.

Its one of the very few driver oriented cars in India, the only others i can think of are the 1.8 RS (which i am yet to drive), Forester, 1.6 GTX and new accord. Yup, slightly fatter rubber should kill all signs of understeer, paying a visit to your European tyre cousins should help grip matters.


If I had a second chance, I would look at a used Mondeo or forestor closely



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Old 8th October 2004, 11:53   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] (ajmat @ Oct. 07 2004,23:15)]It is the only Vtec in the company so that tells you how boring IT geeks are ! (I am not one). Assessing various parameters:
Spot on Ajmat. They love Accent (Wipro and Infosys are full of them) for some reason. I think they get some serious group discount.

Fantastic write up. Now time for better tyres..
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Old 8th October 2004, 12:18   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ] The torque is ? barely adequate? , an NHC can lick me to 40kmh because of the low end torque.
I am surprised you mention this, cos I have found the Vtec to have superb torque delivery even under normal driving conditions. One of the basic advantages of a Vtec engine is more "useable rpms" and a finer torque spread over all rpm ranges. In fact, the Vtec also has marginally more torque than the regular 1.5 version.

Or maybe my Vtec has different characteristics at low rpm because of the engine remapping in the post-September 2002 models.

Yes, one of the most limiting factors to a standard Vtec is the rubber. Well-sized Michelins or Goodyears will certainly change the personality and dynamics of this machine.

Very well written, and comprehensively attended to each issue.

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Old 8th October 2004, 13:33   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]It is the only Vtec in the company so that tells you how boring IT geeks are ! (I am not one).
Got to agree with you on that
I always feel I am in the wrong industry.
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Old 8th October 2004, 14:03   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]I am surprised you mention this, cos I have found the Vtec to have superb torque delivery even under normal driving conditions. One of the basic advantages of a Vtec engine is more "useable rpms" and a finer torque spread over all rpm ranges. In fact, the Vtec also has marginally more torque than the regular 1.5 version.
Ajmat is right, the Vtec isn't a torquey car. The NHC does pull faster from very low rpms. Heck, i've seen Qualiss' keep up with me till 2500-3000 rpm, in 4th and 5th. How ever, once you're beyond that stage, you have try really hard to find them in the rear view mirror.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]It is the only Vtec in the company so that tells you how boring IT geeks are ! (I am not one).
Where do you work Ajmat? Is it HP by any chance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ], the Vtec also has marginally more torque than the regular 1.5 version.
Yes it does have a better torque figure than the 1.5 but, where that torque comes, also makes a diff. Max torque at 4700 rpm isn't a happy sight if you like lugging the car around in higher gears.

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Old 8th October 2004, 16:19   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] (Shan2nu @ Oct. 08 2004,12:33)]
Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]It is the only Vtec in the company so that tells you how boring IT geeks are ! (I am not one).
Where do you work Ajmat? Is it HP by any chance?
Ajmat...
V-Tec dosnt comes under the budget of every IT engg... *But then i agree that most of the IT geeks are boring.

Heck, I have seen more than one qualis down there.

Shan... Its that big blue(no... not ibm) "inside" company...
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Old 8th October 2004, 17:44   #13
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Quote[/b] ]
It is the only Vtec in the company so that tells you how boring IT geeks are ! (I am not one).
Agreed. Most of the SW guys are boring. Picks Wagon R to Palio.
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Old 8th October 2004, 18:00   #14
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Quote:
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Quote[/b] ]Picks Wagon R to Palio
When you listen to terms like good quality, support, zero bug count and a dozen others day in and day out, it has an effect .....
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Old 19th October 2004, 15:53   #15
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update

Had a slowish puncture - limped into a petrol bunk and reinflated, got to office and changed the wheel. When I gave it for repair, the valve neck was torn so I went to the local Bridgestone dealer for a new tube - replaced it and there is a huge sidewall bulge - boy these bridgestone suck! Needs a new replacement but I have other ideas !
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