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5th-gen Honda City: Petrol vs Diesel vs Hybrid. Which engine to buy?

The petrol and hybrid powertrains come with a CVT gearbox, however, the diesel engine does miss out on the transmission option.

Honda Cars India launched the 5th-generation City sedan in the Indian market back in July 2020. The 5th-gen iteration of the mid-size sedan is available in three variants: V, VX and ZX, all offered with a choice of petrol and diesel engine options. All three petrol trims also come with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, while the diesel comes standard with a manual gearbox.

Fast forward to May 2022, Honda introduced the e:HEV (Hybrid) version of the City in the Indian market. The new Honda City Hybrid comes exclusively in the top-trim and features two electric motors, paired to the petrol engine. The hybrid powertrain is offered with the CVT automatic transmission as standard.

So, if you were to buy the Honda City which engine option would you pick & why?

Starting off with the petrol, Honda offers the City sedan with a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated unit. It produces 119 BHP @ 6,600 rpm and 145 Nm @ 4,300 rpm and is paired with either a 6-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Here are GTO's observations after driving the Honda City 1.5L petrol, "Beautiful, FANTASTIC, delicious 1.5L petrol engine. This is the BENCHMARK naturally-aspirated petrol in India, no matter what engine size. You will ENJOY revving it. Owners will need the willpower of God to not redline it to ~7000 rpm at every opportunity they get. In particular, you’ll love the experience of shooting from 5,000 – 7,000 rpm in “full Vtec mode”. The 1.5L petrol is silky smooth all the way to 7,000 rpm." Read GTO's full observations - here.

The Hybrid powertrain is the latest offering from Honda on the City. It comes powered using the same 1.5-litre NA petrol engine but is paired with two electric motors, offering a combined output of 124 BHP and 253 Nm. The powertrain is mated to a CVT as standard and offers three driving modes: EV, Hybrid & Petrol.

At slow speeds in town, the City hybrid is effortless to drive. It tries to stay in EV mode as much as possible and occasionally, you will faintly feel the IC engine turn on to charge the battery and then, turn off again after a while. If you prod the accelerator a little more to close a gap, the IC engine kicks in and provides the required shove. Out on the highway, the City Hybrid responds to throttle inputs in a more linear manner. At around 80 km/h you can see a small symbol light upon the power flow meter indicating that the clutch has engaged the engine directly. Speed changes are more linear with throttle inputs and you can effortlessly cruise at triple-digit speeds. Read the full official review of the Honda City Hybrid - here.

Moving to the diesel, the Honda City sedan is powered by a 1.5-litre unit, which produces 98 BHP @ 3,600 rpm and 200 Nm @ 1,750 rpm. It is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard.

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

My choice for the Honda City would be the 1.5L CVT. Butter-smooth automatic, one of the best naturally-aspirated petrol engines in the country and a sedan that's a genuine all-rounder. Sucks that the Diesel doesn't get the CVT like the Amaze & the Hybrid is overpriced.

Here's what BHPian Shreyans_Jain had to say on the matter:

The 1.5 iVTEC mated with the CVT gets my wholehearted vote. Proven long-lasting powertrains that are refined, efficient and peppy enough. I’ve had the diesel for over 175k km. Apart from good fuel efficiency and reliability, there is nothing to like about this engine. It is crude, noisy and has average performance which starts tapering off as the years and miles pile on. Nothing great here. As for the hybrid, it is hilariously overpriced for the economic benefit it offers, especially considering the loss of boot space. I also have concerns over the long term reliability of this complicated powertrain in harsh Indian conditions.

Here's what BHPian Shome had to say on the matter:

Voted for Hybrid, subjective to my use case.

I will not consider the City as an enthusiast's car, its high-speed dynamics are nothing to rave about, and stability at 120 km/h is mediocre. If I were to buy a C2 sedan, with all the new expressways coming in, I would tilt towards better highway dynamics. The chassis just does not do justice to the gem of an engine, the NA one i.e.

Also, in metros, where and when are we going to experience the rev-happy engine, maybe 20% of the car's lifetime or ownership time? The city, therefore, is a people mover, for family functions, going to the office in peak traffic, maybe to the market etc.

The hybrid though slightly expensive is suited perfectly for this purpose. Will take care of my pocket in terms of consumption in stop-go traffic over the long term, while giving me 90% of the NA performance if and when needed

P.S: I will not consider the City at all, the above is just for the engine preference.

Here's what BHPian avira_tk had to say on the matter:

We got a ZX CVT to replace our decade-old Fiesta (an excellent car by the way). The City diesel is not an upgrade from the TDCI on the Ford, the ten-year-old engine is smoother than the Honda diesel.

The hybrid compromises on boot space, absolute no go when it's the primary car. The diesel doesn't get an auto and even if it did, the pricing would make the petrol a good value. The 1.5 Vtec is probably the longest-running engine brand in India, glad to finally get to experience it.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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