The new City has no doubt moved up a segment and how. The improvements are substanstial while the prices have been kept close to the outgoing model. In a lot of the promo videos, Honda showed how the 'City' brand holds aspirational value in our country and there is no doubt about that but the 4th generation City was very disappointing in this regard. Like we are aware, there were multiple niggles reported and this made a bad name for the brand.
Right from the time when rumours of the new City were floating, I had wished for only one thing; Honda gets back their signature quality standards. I am very happy to report that my wishes have come true and finally we have a City whose quality standards are going to get benchmarked in the segment again. The build quality is just like any other japanese car, you can call it light but thats not a bad thing. The fit and finish of components, panel gaps, paint quality etc is very good, no complains here. The City was never going to close with a 'thud' and I was not expecting that either.
I will agree that there are few features that are given a miss but I am not going to cry about them. The reason being; Honda had to save costs somewhere or else the prices would not have been this good. I would prefer to live without 2-3 features rather than have them but with cost-cutting somewhere else to makeup the extra cost.
Inside out, the car is better than the 4th gen and while checking it out, I have tried to take note of the most important points within the limited time I spent with the car. There are places where I found that some parts were carried on from the 4th gen and have mentioned the same below.
Honda has played it clever by providing soft leather wraps at all the usual touch points like door armrests, part of the dashboard, near the gear lever etc. Apart from this there is a small glossy faux wood panel on the dashboard which looks very good but it kind of breaks the beige and black theme.
I did not have time to check under the hood but I think the car gets under bonnet insulation this time. The boot lid cladding is present.
The City looks best in the lighter shades; platinum white pearl and lunar silver metallic but if you are someone who prefers a darker tone, check out the modern steel metallic. The golden brown metallic was not suiting my tastes.
Please note that I was hardly able to spend 10-15 mins with the car and that too on the side of a road hence I cannot write a very in-depth report just now. I have written everything I can remember but if anyone has other questions please feel free to ask, I'll try my level best to answer them.
The exterior highlights
- In person, the new City looks more like a baby Accord than a baby Civic from the front and credit goes to the head-lamps + grill combo.
- The led strips inside the head-lamps (DRLs and turn indicators) are pretty long; starts from the grill and goes right till the end which makes the car look pretty wide when viewed straight on.
- While the overdose of chrome on the grill and head-lamps was pulling my attention, I observed that the open slots of the grill are a size too big but I guess that is needed as the chrome part is taking up nearly 50% of the vertical space. Same goes for the slots in the bumper grill.
- IIRC the spray nozzles were concealed and not exposed on the hood.
- The 'blade' inspiration is very apparent from the sides in ligher paint shades. Most of the design elements look good in the lighter shades and also makes the car appear larger.
- The door mounted ORVMs are fantastic. They are not the 'in your face' types and I am very comfortable with this style as the 2nd gen City also has the ORVMs on the doors.
- The mud-flaps are small in size which don't spoil the side look.
- Alloy wheels are dual tone but from a distance you will not notice the dark grey spokes clearly. There is nothing funky going on here which is a good thing as the entire car's design is very mature and posh. A set of simple alloys compliment such a style much better IMO.
- There is lack of cladding in the wheel arches and I was not expecting this. Honda has done so much good in this car and small things like these should not have been left out.
- Not a 100% sure but the chrome door handles with the request sensors seem to be the same as the 4th gen.
- All 4 units of the rear tail-lamps are much more than 3D and I like how the red strip (marker lamp) runs towards the side of the car. The smoked effect(?) will give a good contrast on lighter paint shades.
- I hate how the variant badge is stuck on the boot lid. It looks like an after-thought.
- The rear bumper is plain looking and could have been better with some black elements to break the bulk. It does not spoil the look though.
- Parking sensors sit flush with the bumper and they are not the button type sensors which we see in the aftermarket.
- Apart from all this, there is stuff like the rear reflectors in the bumpers, shark fin antenna, front bumper skirt in the middle etc which also enhance the looks but there is nothing special about them to mention here. Not for me atleast.
How's it on the inside (rear)
- The rear seating was never a problem area of the City but still Honda has taken it to the next level. The amount of legroom I had even after being 6'2" was fantastic. This car gives you D segment like space and only Honda knows how to do this while keeping the same wheelbase as the outgoing model.
- The rear bench has a slight bump in the middle but it does not make one feel uncomfortable. If you are tall, the center seat is not for you as your knees will rub against the AC vents.
- 3 point seat belts for all passengers.
- The fixed headrests for the rear passengers are just as comfortable as the front. IMO it is good that Honda did not provide adjustable headrests as that would have further reduced the rear view in the mirror. The rear headrests eat up a good amount of space in the IRVM.
- The beige coloured interior, large sunroof and good glass area further aid in making the cabin feel larger.
- I don't remember if there were coat hooks at the rear but the grab handles felt the same as the 4th gen.
- I would have liked to see vanity tables behind the seats like in the Innova. There is ample of space for this.
- Rear AC vents seem to be the same as the 4th gen. There are two 12v power sockets just below the vents.
- The rear sunshade and the clips seem to be of good quality but I would have loved to have it for the rear windows rather than the back glass.
- The rear windows roll down nearly full.
- Front seat rails get plastic covers to hide the bolts that hold the seat to the floor. The 3rd gen had them and its good to see it here.
- While the primary colour of the interiors is beige, for some reason Honda has thrown in few black coloured parts here and there; cupholders in the rear armrest, back of the armrest slot, seat belts and their buckles, parcel tray, roof lights etc. Not a fan of this mix and match.
- The doors are in a combination of black plastics and beige leather. The plastic parts are 10 times better in quality than the 4th gen but still hard to the touch.
- All other switches, lights etc are of good quality.
What about the interiors (front)
- The leather used in this car is soft to the touch and very much comparable to the 3rd gen quality wise. The leather of the 4th gen feels plastic(y) in comparison.
- The headrests are XL sized and good enough to make you fall asleep.
- There is a cover for the sunroof and thankfully this time it does not feel like its made out of cardboard.
- The levers to open the fuel lid and hood are of the 4th gen.
- Instead of a proper dead pedal, there is just a rubber patch on the floor. The footwell is wide enough to not need a dead pedal though.
- Glove box does not open tall enough and is not very deep. It was like this even in the 3rd and 4th gen.
- The knobs of the ACC system are very premuim looking and awesome to touch. They have a very solid feel when turned and are back-lit.
- All the switches and stalks are solid to touch.
- New leather wrapped steering wheel is good to hold and has got a very unique stitching pattern. Makes it standout when compared to the competition. The usual audio/phone and cruise control buttons are all good to the touch.
- There is a silver(?) trim on the steering wheel that matches the trim around the AC vents.
- The leather wrap on the passenger side dashboard and next to the gear lever tell you that Honda wanted to make the cabin feel up-market.
- The armrest is a little too behind for my liking and has decent storage space. A sliding top would do no harm.
- The black parts of the dashboard are in hard plastics but the quality is much better than the 4th gen. It is very much like the 3rd gen now.
- Both sunvisors now get vanity mirrors and even the driver gets a grab handle. This shows that the focus this time was not to cut costs.
- A nice thought by Honda to provide a shelf just next to the 12v power outlet to keep the phone.
- Front tweeters are in the same position as the 3rd gen; next to the ORVMs. This should help in better sound staging. Can't comment on the audio quality as I have not heard it playing.
- No ugly stalk to control the MID now.
- MID makes its place inside the rev counter and in between the meters. It has loads of displays/settings but I did not spend time playing around so can't comment more.
- The fonts of the digital and analog meters are closely matched so that it looks like a fully digital console. They do the full salute when turned on.
- The cheap sounding warning 'beeps' of the 4th gen have now been replaced with better sounding 'blips'.
- The engine start/stop button moves to the right side of the steering wheel now. This position is much better as we are used to turning on the car with our right hand and not the other.
- Ergonomics is not an issue at the front or rear. Same can be said about the ingress and egress too. You can quickly find a comfortable driving position and feel home.
- The NVH levels have seen an improvement over the 4th gen at idle. I cannot comment on how they are during driving till I take a test drive.
- No apparent cost cutting is visible. The car gets a full sized alloy spare wheel, grab handle for the driver, seat rail plastic covers, boot cladding, mobile pockets behind the front backrests, vanity mirror for driver etc.
To conclude, I would say that the king is back.
The only real competition according to me is the Verna. It has a good load of features and exciting engine options to choose from but keeping in mind the recent thread of Hyundai's mechanical failures, the City gets a upper hand here due to the sorted ASCs and low cost spares. Even if we compare the 4th gen City with the Verna, Honda had niggles whereas Hyundai had mechanical failures. The Verna would still be the pick if one wants a diesel but only if they will be driving it themselves. If its going to be chauffer driven, City makes more sense as the rear seating and space is way ahead of the Verna.
The Vento/Rapid are on decade old platforms and don't match the City. The only place where they shine is the engine department; the 1.0 TSI. Aftersale services of these cars are nothing to write about and the lesser I speak about their reliability the better.
Comparing with the Yaris, you get better stuff at much better prices from Honda. I won't be surprised if someone who wanted the Corolla picks up the new City. The rear seating is that good. The Yaris has flopped big time and remains as it is. The famed japanese reliability of Honda is as good as that of Toyota and that is why you can still see 10-15 year old models from both these manufacturers running fine on our roads.
Now for the last one I know someone or the other will get offended but I am going to say it anyways. The Ciaz in comparison strictly feels taxi class. We all know why that thing is cheaper than the competition and I don't want to get into more detail. Please don't mind, these are my personal views.