Introduction: Initial Ownership Report of 2014 Honda City i-DTEC / V Variant
My 2014 Honda City arrived home on 03-Feb-2014 and was the first Diesel Honda City to roll out of the Dakshin Honda Lavelle Road Showroom in Bangalore. Grab your favorite beverage as I unfold my initial ownership report with this newest offering from Honda. The Car Hunt Begins…
My earlier car was a 3 cylinder Hyundai Accent CRDi that served me extremely well for the last 9.5 years. This was the first CRDi Diesel engine in India at the time I purchased at the sub-10 lakh pricing levels. At around 95,000 kms the car developed some late cranking problems and the Hyundai SA said the car has developed what he called “back compression”. The recommendation was to get an engine overhaul done. I got a second opinion from a mechanic that I knew and since both tallied, I decided it was time for a new car rather than a revamp on the old one…And needless to say, coming from a Diesel experience in the past, I only considered Diesel options. And the Nominations are…
1. Hyundai Verna Fluidic CRDi
Coming from an existing Hyundai, my first choice for change was the Verna Fluidic. With awesome looks and a powerful diesel engine under the hood, this was definitely the first choice. The car also had all the features one could ask for from a sedan at this price range. My cousin had recently even purchased one and so I had a direct report of the pros and cons of this vehicle. Once while returning from a trip to Mysore, the car bottomed out a couple of times and the next day when my cousin was travelling to work the silencer fell off the car. Although Hyundai replaced this free of cost based on warranty – it created the fear of ground clearance problems in my mind and the Verna was dropped from the shopping cart.
2. Honda Amaze i-DTEC
The other big success in the market was the Honda Amaze. The Amaze is a great package at the price but it felt very much like my existing car.
The noise-levels, lack of climate control and other features was a big turn off since these were some of features I was looking at as an improvement given that I was changing my car after a period of 9+ years.
3. Hyundai Grand i10 CRDi
This may seem like a strange choice but given that I decided against the two cars above, I seriously thought of going in for a Hyundai Grand i10 as a make shift car and possibly use it for 2-3 years till Hyundai releases an upgraded version of the Verna that fixes the ground clearance problem. The SA at the Advaith Hyundai praised the car a lot and said it’s been giving a mileage of 20kmpl in city driving conditions which impressed me a lot given the current fuel prices heading north.
I also visited the Ford showroom and took a look at the Ford Ecosport but somehow did not feel confident about the after sales service of Ford, so this was more of casual consideration and in the meanwhile I also read reports of unbearable wait times and price hikes on the Ford EcoSport. Also for people wondering about the Duster, Rapid and Vento: I was not keen on an SUV, only the Ecosport kind of looked sleek. Also, both Rapid and Vento looked very old fashioned to me from looks perspective.
At this point of time, I read news of Honda planning to release a new model of the Honda City which would be powered by a Diesel Engine. I googled up any and all articles that showed details of this new upcoming car from Honda. I figured from the news on the Internet that the car would be launched on 25-Nov-2013 at Delhi. Then in early November, I read news of dealers taking pre-bookings for the unreleased car. Having known about the wait times of the Ford Ecosport, I was sure this would end up on similar lines with long waiting lines. Given that my current car had already developed a problem, I was not sure if I had too much time to wait for a new car.
So, I called up both Dakshin Honda and Magnum Honda and figured that both were charging 51,000 as a pre-booking amount. Dakshin Honda sent an executive home and had the cheque collected on 16-Nov-2013 and they told me that I am within the top 20 bookings from Dakshin Honda Lavelle Road. At this point of time I had not really decided I would buy the car but this was more of a blanket booking to ensure that I would not have to wait too long if I did like the car. I spoke to some friends and colleagues of mine and they confirmed that the existing Honda City does have a ground clearance problem and does scrape the bottom on several occasions. I hoped Honda would address this problem and so the wait began for the launch. The 4th Generation Honda City Global Launch (25-Nov-2013)
On 25th Nov, Honda did the launch of the City and Honda shared a lot of details about the new car such as the engine , the improvements that had been done, the increase in the wheelbase etc. Honda also had a special slide on the ground clearance aspect of the new car and I was happy to see that Honda had addressed this concern from the current owners. However, the pricing of the car and the power (BHP) and mileage that the new car would delivery were both not revealed. This Honda said they would reveal during January. Honda also claimed to have had 9000pre-launch bookings!
Interestingly after mid-December several of the auto magazines and online sites and YouTube started to carry detailed reviews of the new car. It was clear now about the mileage, power and other technical specifications of the car. Was a bit disappointed that Honda had not tweaked the engine to add a little bit more power. It was clear that Honda was aiming for the Fuel Efficiency crown. 4G City India Launch (07-Jan-2014)
Honda announced the pricing of the new City on 7th Jan 2014. The pricing was again a bit disappointing since Honda kept the ex-showroom price of the feature rich V variant above 10 lakhs. For folks in Karnataka, this makes a huge difference as cars with greater than 10 lakhs ex-showroom fall into a higher tax segment. I had expected the City to be priced around the same as the Verna but what this meant was that the City was a good 80,000 more expensive than the equivalently featured model of Verna (the SX variant). The SV variant seemed more like the value for money model but it lacked the key features I needed such as Alloy Wheels, Reverse Camera, Electrically foldable OVRMs, and Fog Lamps. However, I thought I would do a test drive and then decide on the variant. Test Drive of the City
I reached Dakshin Honda and did walk around the new car. The space within the car seemed too good. There was one existing owner of Civic who had come by and he remarked that the backseat space was more than what was on offer on the current Civic. I also took a test drive of the car and felt the pickup was sufficient for the 0-60 kmph that I managed with the city traffic conditions. The gear shift also seemed good and the dashboard looked really futuristic to me. I revisited the showroom again in the weekend along with family and everyone liked the car. Later the same evening, I did yet another test drive at Magnum Honda and wanted to check if there was any price variations etc. There was none but Magnum said I could change the color and variant of the car anytime post booking and they would not reset my wait time for the car. This seemed like a definite advantage but given that I had already done my pre-booking at Dakshin Honda , I decided to stick with Dakshin. (But if someone were to ask me to recommend a Honda showroom - I would recommend Magnum Honda as the experience there was much better. I read that Magnum Honda has won several awards as well for the Sales Experience provided.) During my test drive at Magnum Honda, I went over several speed bumps and the car did not scrape the bottom. I also managed to touch the 80 kmph mark and was happy with the performance of the car up to that speed. I definitely felt the price for the V Variant was over priced but decided to go with it since it met all the feature requirements that I had in mind. And the Winner is…
At this point of time I felt I had all the data points needed to make my decision and I decided to go with the new Honda City!!
Here is a summary of my key likes and dislikes about the new car: Pros:
• Ground Clearance - This was a big one…and yes it’s fixed…Cons:
• Good Acceleration in the 0 – 60 range, excellent drivability in city driving conditions.
• Space on Rear Seats
• The interiors including the new black dash with touch panel AC
• Amazing Mileage, Green indicators on the panel to indicate economical driving style
• Features such as Cruise Control, Reverse Camera & OVRMs
• Segment leading Boot space.
• Pricing, I feel the V variant is overpriced…but I guess Honda is charging for the brand…
• No Reverse sensors that provide sound alarm.
• No Disc Brakes for the rear tyres.
• The tyres are not the best and I had to upgrade paying extra.
• Alloy Wheels are not as stylish as compared to the Verna
• The front grille could have been designed better
I spoke to Dakshin Honda and confirmed my decision to proceed with car. I requested them to provide Michelin tyres but they clearly stated that they cannot change anything from what the car comes with. Again, here I feel there is scope for improvements - the dealers should possibly give Michelin/Bridgestone by default for high end variants such as V/VX
. I also went and signed up the paperwork and started the loan processing from SBI. Dakshin Honda has a tie up with SBI and they promised that the processing would not take only 3-4 days. The next weekend which was the weekend of 24th I went and paid the down payment and completed the paperwork. Final Price On-Road was Rs.13, 03, 553
. I read a posting from another BHPian where he got a VX variant itself at less than this price. I definitely feel the Govt. should bring about centralized policy for Taxation. Dakshin Honda provided me the chassis number and said I could go to their yard on Hosur Road and see the car. Car Visit at the Yard
I left Dakshin Honda Lavelle Road and straight away headed to the Volkswagen Yard on Hosur Road where the Car was stationed. The car looked great but was disappointed that the car came with MRF ZVTV tyres. Based on the discussions on Team-BHP I decided to change the tyres upon arrival itself. The VW Yard which houses the cars on Hosur Road Car Delivery
I reached Dakshin Honda Lavelle Road on 03-Feb-2014 in the evening and saw that the car was already ready and waiting. The SA, briefed me thru the car features etc. Dakshin Honda also had a small ceremony where they play a special song and handed some chocolates and a bouquet of flowers and handed over the keys to me. They also took a photograph and handed me a framed copy of it immediately. I also got a coupon for 5 liters of Diesel. I was all set and on my way driving the new car. Pictures of the New Car: Alloys & Tyres
I headed straight to A1 Car Care Center near Ashoka Pillar Bangalore where I got the tyres immediately exchanged with Michelin XM2 195/65 R15 as recommended on Team-BHP. A1 car care bought back my stock tyres for Rs.3000 per tyre and the XM2 costed Rs.5750 per tyre. With that enhancement I was all set to enjoy my new car. Here again, I think this is something Honda does not want to listen to customers but wants to set the fuel efficiency records by providing the 175/65R15 tyres as the default. When I spoke to the SA at DH, he said Honda would have done sufficient testing with the stock tyres and hence there was nothing to be concerned about... A1 Car Care Center - Tyre Exchange Interiors and ICE
The interiors in beige which comes in Premium Fabric is very comfortable and gives a nice look to the car. The speed dials are eye-catching and the economy indicators provide some good hints to encourage fuel efficient driving. The front glove box is handy but should have come with a lock – unfortunately there isn’t one. There a small compartment provided to the right hand side next to the driver which is also handy to keep things which the driver may need to access quickly. In terms of interior space, this car has no issues - the wheelbase has been matched with the Sunny to give the Caaaaar...effect here as well. The rear seats are top notch and there are separate AC Vents for the rear passenger as well. Also the seats are positioned well and not too low in comparison with the Verna which has seats that are too low.
The In Car Entertainment comes with a CD player, Radio Tuner, Aux-In and USB Support. The System also offers Bluetooth connectivity with mobile phones. Bluetooth can be used to connect both phone calls as well as to stream music from the phone. However to stream the music from phone, one has to add it as a separate Audio Device a second time. I liked the sound quality provided by the equipment although I felt Honda could have provided a touch screen for this. Steering mounted controls are provided but I felt a Mute button could have been added. The steering wheel has a classy look but I felt it necessary to take my hand off the steering to use the horn. Due to the area used up by steering mounted controls - one has to stretch to use the horn - not very comfortable. The Reverse Camera engages when you shift to the reverse gear and does a good job of providing multiple views. However, I feel audio feedback with distance sensors could have been included to enhance the experience. I noticed that the reverse camera can also be switched on while just driving as well which is kind of fun. City Driving Experience
Till date I have driven about 450 km which I would classify as City driving. This includes my daily commute to office (to and fro comes to about 35 km per day) in peak hour traffic and also some driving to do other errands. The drive within City is very comfortable in the new car. The gear shift is easy and the AC is powerful. Based on my various tests on the mileage, I can state that I got between 16 to 16.5 kmpl in city driving conditions with AC in use. Without AC and including some stable runs on the elevated expressway to Electronic City the mileage increased to a figure of 18 kmpl. I must add that, the gearing has been done well and we can shift to the 5th gear around 60 kmph and you can shift to the 6th gear at around 80 kmph. The front bumper of the car is very slow slung and one needs to be very careful while parking as this is below the height of the kerb in most places in Bangalore at least. Ground Clearance and Speed Breakers in Bangalore
I have done sufficient drives over various speed breakers in Bangalore and the car does not bottom out. The suspension itself has been made a bit stiffer. I must admit I have swapped the tyres to 195/60R15 which does give an additional ground clearance advantage of 3-4 mm but going by the feel of the suspension I feel Honda has truly fixed this problem
. I have gone over speed breakers at various speeds as well. I missed one right at the start of NICE expressway and went over them at possibly 40-50 kmph and the car did not lose stability or bottom out. On the way back from Mysore on the SH-17 I missed one speed breaker and could not slowdown in time and ran over one. Again, the car did not bottom out and went thru fine. Highway Driving Experience
On the NICE Expressway, I managed to touch 135 kmph which is the highest I have done on this car. The braking has been confidence inspiring. The car touches the 100 kmph mark on the 6th gear with the rpm needle slightly over the 2000 mark. The car handled extremely well at high speeds. I cannot really comment on the handling at 135 since I had to reduce quite quickly. I can confidently say the car is extremely stable at around 110 kmph as I have driven some credible distances at that speed.
The car provides gauges that provide average fuel efficiency. This is different from the instantaneous mileage which is more of an indication by means of bars that keep moving as one drives along. The average fuel efficiency as compared to the tank full to tank full approach of measurement did deviate couple times. On one occasion it deviated by -0.7 (meaning the gauge showed more than actual mileage) and on another occasion it deviated by +0.8 (meaning the gauge showed less than actual mileage) so I would say there is some level of discrepancy but it’s within tolerable limits.
I did a Bangalore-Mysore trip this weekend and covered about 300 odd kilometers on the State Highway 17. On the forward journey, I drove mildly with a light foot as there was some amount of traffic and I wanted to get used to the behavior of the car. I checked the mileage upon reaching Mysore and the indicator showed a good 23.5 kmpl. I went up the Chamundi Hill and came down and the mileage average had reduced by 1 to 22.5 kmpl. Driving up the Chamundi Hill was also a comfortable experience and the car handled well. On my way back, I drove at slightly higher speeds between 90 – 110 kmph and when I reached Bangalore, I checked the mileage again which was reported as 21.6 kmpl. Exteriors, Styling & Headlights
I think Honda has done a neat job of the exterior. The looks are awesome and the car looks amazing especially from the rear and side views. The lines running along on the sides remind one of the Verna's Fluidic Design. The front view could have sported a better grille but like A R Rahman's music, the grille too is looking better day by day.
The headlights seem good enough and I did not face any issues during night driving: City at Night
Honda could have added LED lights/DRLs possibly but I think they will possibly release it as a facelift after a year...
I would like to thank other folks at Team-BHP for their valuable inputs in helping me in deciding and going for my new car.