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Old 29th November 2023, 21:38   #1
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Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

Has the Honda City lost its dream car charm? | A fan's emotional insight

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When you hear "Honda City," does it stir up feelings and memories? Maybe a bit of nostalgia, right? Totally! Honda City used to be, like, the ultimate dream car for so many middle-class folks in India. People were crazy about it because it was just so reliable, had tons of space, and that i-Vtec engine thing was, like, pure magic.

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210020.png

But lately, something's off. Especially after they gave it a facelift. Why isn't it as popular anymore? Is the City not the cool car it once was? Is it, like, not the dream ride everyone imagined? Is this the end for the Honda City? To find out, we've gotta go back to where it all began.

Background: The 5th Generation Journey (2020)

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210340.png

The 5th generation Honda City hit the Indian market on July 15, 2020, generating a wave of reviews that influenced consumer decisions. The positive changes convinced families like mine to choose the City again.

Honda City 2020 Pros

  • Ample space with enhanced comfort
  • Smooth engines offering good mileage
  • Practical features
  • Elegant aesthetics
  • High-quality interior ambience
  • Noteworthy features
  • Functional boot space

Honda City 2020 Cons

  • Bouncy suspension
  • Increased engine noise
  • Outdated speakers and infotainment system
  • Rattling noises
  • Poor ground clearance

The space, the comfort, the engines gliding like poetry on the road, and that aesthetic appeal – it's like Honda read our dreams. Sure, there were a few hiccups - a bouncy ride, a bit of engine hum, but hey, when you're in love, you ignore the little quirks.

Transition to 2023

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210458.png

Here we are in 2023, and the City has undergone a facelift. My heart races with anticipation, but alas, it's a bittersweet journey. The pros remain the space, the engines, and now, the added charm of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). But wait, the cons – where's the turbo petrol? Why are we limited on engine choices? And what happened to the VX variant? It's like Honda took away a piece of my soul!

Honda City 2023 Pros

  • Spacious interiors with enhanced comfort
  • Smooth engines with good mileage
  • Quality interior ambience
  • Practical boot space
  • Introduction of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) features

Honda City 2023 Cons

  • Lack of a turbo petrol engine
  • Limited engine options with the hybrid variant being expensive
  • Underwhelming exterior design
  • Outdated features
  • Persistent issues with suspension and engine noise
  • Reduced features in the VX variant, diminishing its appeal

What's Going Wrong?

- Lately, the competition has heated up. The new Verna is turning heads with its fancy features, a top-notch 5-star safety rating, and a wallet-friendly price tag – it's hitting home runs. Even the European twins, Slavia and Virtus, joined the game with cool upgrades like electric seats.

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-slavia-pic-14.jpg

- But here's the problem – the Honda City's pricing isn't hitting the sweet spot. The Verna is stealing the spotlight with better features and a more attractive deal.

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-211938.png

- And guess what? Honda's SUV, the Elevate, is stealing the show. The SUV craze, along with a way cooler infotainment system and higher seating, is luring people away from the City.

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210619.png

- SUVs have been a game-changer, impacting many sedans, but even in the sedan segment, the City is now clocking between 1000-2000 sales. The Slavia and Virtus are outselling the City, and the Verna is taking the crown in the segment.

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210900.png

- Honda, it's time for a change! You can't keep hanging onto a two-decade-old engine. My words might sound a bit strong, and some might not like it, but it's the truth. It's high time for the City to have more engine options. We need a turbo-petrol, and we need it soon. Let's be honest, the regular i-Vtec engine doesn't bring the same excitement as the competition's 1.5L turbo petrols. Besides, people these days are totally willing to splash a little extra for a better engine!

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210522.png

- Oh, Honda, why did you let us down with such lacklustre equipment for the hefty price of the City? It's just not cool, Honda!

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210514.png

- And don't even get me started on the marketing blunder. Dressing someone up in a suit and expecting them to make the car and the ad exciting? Come on, Honda, you messed up big time.

In the world of sedans, people used to look at the Honda City with admiration, but now it's just kind of boring. There's a lack of innovation, and it feels like Honda isn't putting in the effort. Their attitude, like they're doing us a favour by offering their products, is just not sitting right.

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210752.png

In a recent Team-Bhp discussion (Wait 8 months for Mahindra XUV700 or get Skoda Slavia or 2023 Honda City facelift? EDIT: Got Slavia) where we were weighing the options between the City, Slavia, and XUV700, the XUV took the lead, with Slavia following closely. Unfortunately, the City found itself in the backseat, being the least preferred choice. Other Bhpians in the discussion were also proposing alternative options, and this wasn't a positive sign for the City.


In conclusion, has the appeal of the Honda City faded away? Sadly, yes, and it's all on Honda. The lack of timely updates, the sky-high price of the Hybrid version, and other factors like fewer features have taken a toll. Yes, SUVs are stealing the spotlight, but in the sedan segment too, the City isn't the segment leader it used to be.

Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight-screenshot-20231129-210729.png

As a Honda City fanboy, it hurts to say that the car hasn't met our expectations. It's good, but it's not exceptional anymore. Honda's focus on SUVs has left me feeling a bit saddened. The City doesn't evoke the same emotions it did in the '90s, 2000s, or even just five years ago.

The Honda City is still a decent car today, but it's lost that special touch that made it awesome. It's gone from being great to just mediocre.

Note: Just a heads up, this is my take on the City. I really like the car, it's my favourite, but I feel a bit sad about its sales and why it's not doing so well in the market.

Last edited by MotorDev : 29th November 2023 at 22:07.
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Old 29th November 2023, 22:18   #2
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

Honda is waiting for Indian roads to reach western standards so it can then launch its full range of cars and engines ranging from the Jazz to the Accord and beyond. Until then it is lying low on the thin shoes of the City.
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Old 29th November 2023, 22:28   #3
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

As @fhdowntheline said, the Indian roads are not so up-to the mark. Potholes, rough patches, uneven roads, frequent diversions and even kaccha roads at some points- all these reasons are making the Indian Automotive Market more SUV-centric. Honda is to be blamed too here- they aren't showing much enthusiasm in the market. A few new products, adding more features in the car which every new buyer is hungry for, multiple engine options and thrilling TVCs and advertisement are some ways they can revive themselves with.
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Old 29th November 2023, 22:56   #4
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

IMHO, the car is still top of its game.
It is the company, that has lost the consumer's trust.

They don't seem too keen in revive their aspirational status.

Honda seems to investing it's time, effort, energy and attention in some other project. (I believe it's the Honda Jet)
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Old 29th November 2023, 23:05   #5
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

It's not just the City. With modern emissions and safety regulations I think most Japanese cars today can't live up to their predecessors' legacies, but that doesn't mean Honda don't have the potential to make the City much more interesting. Sometimes making interesting products is the key to building a brand image.

Maybe Honda's target customers today are loyalists from yore - many of whom have had their share of fun with their cars and are happy to retire to a safe-and-sensible CVT family car, which is the positioning Honda are going for with most of their popular products today around the globe like the Jazz and HR-V (not the Civic Type Rs you see on automotive media).

There is a ray of hope: in a one-year span three swanky new rivals have come up, with marketing clearly oriented towards customers looking for some fun - and they are actually getting people's attention, also by keeping up with market trends like turbos, DCTs, GNCAP stars, good entertainment systems etc. Overnight, the City has begun to look outdated and hopefully that's the wake-up call Honda needs.
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Old 29th November 2023, 23:09   #6
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

With the advent of SUVs, the Hyundai Creta now is what the Honda City used to be - a status symbol for the common people to announce that they have arrived in life.

I don't think the value proposition and the fundamentals of the City have changed much. But in the context of today's market, it has lost touch with the aspirations of the majority of Indians.
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Old 29th November 2023, 23:16   #7
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

Much better enthusiast cars in the segment today, offering everything better from performance to safety to handling to features.

If I were to buy a C-sedan in 2023 - th shortlist will be between the Hyundai Verna 1.5 TGDi v/s the Slavia/Virtus 1.5 TSi. IMHO - The main reason to buy a City in 2023 is because it remains a reliable, 'safe' option - and nothing more.
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Old 30th November 2023, 00:00   #8
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

A resounding Yes. The car is not really the problem, rather changing customer preference is. Sedan as a segment has lost its appeal to CSUVs big time. Bad road conditions are making their case worse.

So many of my friends and relatives who don’t follow car scene much while upgrading from hatchbacks simply choose Creta by default in 1.5 NA MT/iVT guise because that’s the new definition of ‘badi gaadi(big car)’ now which Honda City used to enjoy back in the day.

Last edited by SoumenD : 30th November 2023 at 00:01.
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Old 30th November 2023, 07:44   #9
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

As a 4th gen Honda City iDTEC Diesel user, I feel sad that the sales of Honda City is dwindling due to C-SUVs and other factors like not introducing a Turbo Petrol engine, which the other competitors offer.

We were even thinking of getting another Honda City albeit in CVT or Hybrid guise replacing our City Diesel but with Honda's bleak future, we decided to go elsewhere.

If I ever buy a sedan in 2023, I'd go for Verna as I felt apt as the replacement for my 4th gen City in terms of rear seat comfort, wider service network, 5-star safety rating, better interiors, and all bells and whistles.
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Old 30th November 2023, 09:35   #10
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

As repeat Honda customers, we have owned Honda City Gen 1 Facelift, Honda Civic and Honda City Gen 4 Diesel in the past, today not only is the Gen 5 unexciting to me since Day 1 but considering the direct competition, feels throughly uncompetitive.

The New Verna to me feels from 1 segment above without a doubt, be it the interior design, ambience, quality or the overall sound insulation package which gives it a proper premium car experience as opposed to City which feels like a Jazz/i20 with a boot if quality levels are to be considered.

The thin body panels (also present in my 4th Gen City) are as bad as Marutis that are famous in social media but City just didn't get the same bad press as them.
Then it is the 2 decades old NA engine with minor upgrades, which again doesn't hold a candle to the Hyundai or VW Twin's turbos.

The City has nothing particularly wrong going for it and should serve the owner a great many years, but is is uncompetitive, unexciting and not at all a good value for money if you ask me, had VW and now Hyundai not put genuine effort and excitement to this segment, it would have sunk without a trace in some years like the D segment sedans before it, although it still seems like a genuine possibility in the future given the small numbers this segment sells.

Last edited by Rocketscience : 30th November 2023 at 09:37.
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Old 30th November 2023, 10:06   #11
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

Honestly I feel its good that they have stuck to the NA and added a hybrid. Honda turbo petrol engines are a flop in the US, with a ton of oil dilution issues across the range. I would say let them sort out the tech, then bring it here. Given the crappy service situation in India, I am confident the dealers with botch handling customers with issues
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Old 30th November 2023, 10:34   #12
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

In my opinion, the City is still relevant for people who love the formula. It’s a simple honest car that will never let anyone down. The City neither pretends to be a ‘lite’ version of a D-segment car nor does it change its DNA for every new generation. Moreover, there’s no image problem associated with the car. We are all aware of the Honda City having one of the highest percentage of repeat buyers; familiarity plays a huge part in that.

As for the enthusiast equation, I do agree there are cars in the segment with more power but the City still feels lovely to drive with the VTEC engine and a lively chassis. And for someone like me who uses the City as a daily driver in congested city roads, it works great; lives by its name you may say.

We’ve got a garage that houses some pretty serious European machinery but a Honda city will always have a place in it. The little guy is the fan favourite amongst my family and friends.
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Old 30th November 2023, 11:08   #13
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

Even the salesmen pitch it as a safe boring car nowadays. A few months ago I went to a Tata Showroom to check out the Harrier, there was a Honda showroom right beside so I went there to check out the hybrid City. Firstly, I was shocked after hearing the price, 25 lakhs on road for a car that felt so barebones, it was a strict no no for me.

The salesman asked me the cars I was considering. I told him my options - XUV 700, MG Hector and Tata Harrier. He told me that people who buy a Honda City already know that they only want a City, there is no confusion in their heads, they step into the showroom barely look at the car and book it. He told me that this is a safe option that old city owners come back to.

He then proceeded to list me the benefits of the Harrier like well built omega arc chassis, the well tested Multijet engine etc. At the time I had a petrol Duster CVT and my diesel Verna at, he was shocked that I bought a petrol SUV and tried to convince me to buy a diesel SUV for the good mileage and torque. It was really amusing to me that we spend 20-25 minutes discussing other cars rather than the city.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 1st December 2023 at 10:56. Reason: Typos.
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Old 30th November 2023, 11:23   #14
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re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

Interesting thought, if I may share my 2 cents worth :

Having bought a 2023 Honda City V CVT pretty recently, I don't think the car has lost much of its charm. It's still the choice for many who prefer a no-nonsense classy sedan that ticks all the right boxes. Its sufficiently sporty, it's comfortable, the familial crowd loves it, and to me the design is loveable still. Yes, the NVH could have been better and the ICE a bit more funky to keep with the competition, but as far as basics are considered, the car still gets it right. What have changed though are :

1. Our aspirations
2. The competition

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Old 30th November 2023, 11:30   #15
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Re: Has the Honda City lost its charm? | A fan's emotional insight

We bought a Honda Amaze last month. Reasons for not opting for the City were that somehow my dad liked the Amaze more than the city and budget was another factor. Since I wasn't the one who was paying, I did not complain. Nothing beats the desirability of a 3 box sedan and especially that which has Japanese origins. My Amaze is more of a 2.5 box sedan IMO but I really admire the City. The City feels really VFM for the amount of car you get. I might have not framed my post properly but all I wanted to say is the City and the brand Honda have a lot of life left. To think about it, Honda is the only affordable Japanese company in India right now. Toyota's proper Japanese offerings(Innova, Fortuner) are out of reach for most people, Nissan has no real Japanese cars and I somehow don't really consider Maruti Suzuki as Japanese; they feel really Indian to me. I guess Honda knows what it's doing, so maybe people shouldn't really be concerned about their performance. Honda is still a solo player unlike other Japs who have partnered with other companies.
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