900 km with my City Hybrid: Drivability, ADAS, fuel efficiency & more

I did only one tank-to-tank test, which had a mixed run of about 160 km in Bangalore traffic and 250 km of highway run and got 20.9 km/l.

BHPian ragwhos recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

There have been several expert reviews, and also owners covering many aspects of the vehicle, so I want to talk about perhaps things that haven't been discussed as much.

This is based on the 900 km I have driven. 700 km between Bangalore and Chennai, and about 200 km in Bangalore and Chennai.


The car has superb drivability in the city. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, leave your brake hold on, play some music and forget everything going on outside. You won't hear the electric motor or the engine that might come on and off. Keep yourself entertained watching the power flow dynamically.

In free-flowing city traffic, the electric motor truly comes into its own. All that enormous 253Nm torque available to you makes overtaking a real breeze. The steering is sharp, but I personally would have preferred heavier steering with more feedback. But it goes where you point it. I did not experience any understeer even when I tried some slightly eccentric turns at 60 km/h+.

On highways, there is plenty of power when you need it (even in Eco mode). More on that later. The car feels very stable at speeds up to 120-130 km/h. Beyond that, my wife complained a bit in the rear seat, but to me, it felt fine. It definitely gets a bit loud (engine, tyre and wind) not rattly or annoying, but you begin to hear things. At 90-100 it is extremely quiet, and at 120 still very refined.

The suspension setup feels confident at high speeds, does a pretty good job dampening small potholes etc, but does feel a bit firmer compared to petrol City in general. Ground clearance was sufficient everywhere including some very bad roads in Bangalore. Only once has the bottom scraped (it was an incredibly poor speed breaker in a service road on the Highway that I didn't notice and probably went over faster than I should have)

It is very hard to objectively measure NVH without sophisticated equipment, but after my 5.5 hr non-stop drive from Chennai to Bangalore and 7.5 hours (traffic) trip on the way to Chennai with a small break, I felt least tired after getting off in a long time. There could be some bias because I am excited about this new car, but I am including driving on much better roads in Europe and US and in fairly good sedans. The sense of being on the road, grogginess after a long drive, still feeling like you are in a car (hope I am not the only one who has these) Felt none of that after spending those hours behind the wheel in the City. Just jumped out and got on with life, I feel that's because of how refined it is.

It might not be a big deal for EV users, but to also pull away without any vibration or engine sound, and then see that the engine has come on per the Dash, but not realise it otherwise is pretty fascinating.


The good

Well, it works most of the time. Almost always I'd say to be honest. In the City it has worked spotlessly, keeping distance, warning me of pedestrians who might jump, motorcyclists cutting in, even once braking quicker than me when a lady on the phone panic braked ahead of a speed breaker.

On the highway, where I expected it to be better, it was slightly disappointing, but before I come to the bad, it still works really well on the highway if you define its job to mainly keep you safe.

Very accurate at detecting decently marked lanes, sensing vehicles coming into your lane (including motorcycles) and keeping to your lane. In fact, I think it makes driving a touch relaxing once you get used to it and comfortable, I found Lane Keep assist particularly useful at high speeds when you don't have to be as precise with your steering as it does most of the job.

The Bad

I will try to separate the bad in the system, versus its practicality here (at least based on my perception)

The only real flaw with the system I think is that it is unnecessarily aggressive in both braking and acceleration when adaptive cruise control is engaged. Changing the distance maintained ahead of the car works well, but it still is just as aggressive. It drives like a teenage boy with hard acceleration and braking (even in Eco mode) This can get annoying in an otherwise buttery smooth drive.

The other minor issue I found is that once it got crazy, applied heavy brakes and cancelled cruise control when there were a bunch of motorcycles in my left-hand lane (there were no vehicles in front of me) and it got confused.

Considering it got confused once in about 1000 km of driving, I am happy to give it the benefit of doubt, but the fairly hard deceleration from around 90 km/h to 60km/h quickly could have been bad because any vehicle behind me would not have expected this erratic behaviour. I will feed this back to the dealer (doubt if they will pass it to the engineers at Honda)

The biggest impracticality is the Lane Departure Warning System and the fact that you can easily turn it off. But this is more a bad driving habit than a flaw with the system that works as it should.

The system expects you to indicate every time you change lane, or even slightly get out of the lane to avoid a motorcycle or a moron in front of you who doesn't understand lane discipline.

If you don't, be prepared to wrestle with your steering wheel. (You actually need a decent amount of strength in your arms, imagine driving an old car without power steering here)

I would never (or very rarely) change lanes in Europe without indicating. I have driven around 150K km there, but have started doing it and within 100kms of driving, I am back to indicating every time. It is a minor annoyance since you do have to shift lanes here a lot more, but if it makes us a slightly better driver and safer for all, it is worth it.

Where I find it actually annoying is when I have to slightly avoid someone driving too close to my lane or slightly in it, or in single carriageways where you have to go across the lane to overtake. It doesn't matter if it is just a moped you want to keep distance from and so take 2 feet on the oncoming lane, if you don't indicate, Lane departure will wrestle you.

You can easily turn off Lane Keep Assist with steering mounted control, but not Lane departure. Also finally if you keep disobeying it, it will turn itself off for a moment with a message that the Road Departure Mitigation System is off, which you must dismiss if you want to see anything else on the dash.

In conclusion, ADAS isn't as magical as I thought but is still very useful. I will not turn it off. I am learning to use it better. One must keep in mind that it is dumb in a way that it only uses inputs about what this lane is. It is not fully autonomous to know anything else, so whilst you might intuitively think there's plenty of space to overtake, it will see a car in its lane and slow down. But we will learn to use this, indicate early, change lane early, cancel adaptive cruise control before it starts braking so I can time the overtake, etc. All this makes it fun and engaging, whilst also making it safer and a little less stressful.

Fuel economy, Eco mode and B mode

Per Dash:

  • 22.3 km/l reading for about 160 km in Bangalore (including some very heavy traffic)
  • 21.1 km/l reading for 900 km (700 km between Bangalore and Chennai, and about 200 in Bangalore and Chennai) overall
  • 17.1 km/l on the trip from Chennai to Bangalore (uphill gradient overall) and I was doing good speeds for 30 mins or so.

I did only one tank-to-tank test, which had a mixed run of about 160 km in Bangalore traffic and 250 km of highway run. Obviously not at the same petrol pump, and it was 20.9 km/l. Until this point, I had driven the car quite sedately, mostly on Eco mode, and on the highway not crossing 120 km/h (was trying to be at 100 km/h or more)

I think these numbers are all pretty awesome, and the kind that makes you forget what the fuel economy is, and just drive.

My observations about how to get the best fuel economy

The Eco mode in the City e:HEV is just brilliant, the best I have ever experienced.

It is not dull by any means, and so can be left on all the time. Even in the eco mode, power is available if you need it when you need it. Step on it and you will get power.

The normal mode is of course better, and more fun, but you will never really feel the need to turn Eco mode off unless you want to actually have fun.

In practice, the Eco mode should be your normal mode, and Eco mode off is the sport mode.

How the Eco mode is really useful (and I think really clever) is that it makes you think. It doesn't react that much to small pedal inputs almost asking a question every time, do you really want to do that? If you persist for half a second, it will give you that power, but honestly, do you really want to jump to close that gap in traffic?

B mode - I also leave the Regen Braking mode on for most of my driving in traffic. Mostly move it to D only when I need to engage cruise control (doesn't work in B mode)

Other expert reviews have said that there is no real difference between D and B modes in the amount of regen braking. Yes, that's right, but that's a good thing. You can keep B mode on all the time, and it does make a difference in the Fuel Economy. With about 70-80 km each, I have sensed at least a 2 km/l difference between B and D modes. This was in Bangalore where there is more Stop-Go traffic where B mode is useful vs relatively free-flowing but still slow traffic in Chennai where regen braking is not that useful. Will drive more in the same conditions without B mode, but I'd recommend leaving it on.

You can play with the regen brake level toggles in both D and B mode, and they are great fun and I feel really useful.

I must easily say I used the brake pedal on the highway only 50% of the time and the rest used just the regen toggles (never on a cruise)

Especially in a section from Chennai to Kanchipuram where there are plenty of road works and turns to shift from one set of lanes to the other, I nearly never used the brake pedal using just the Brake pedal to slow down to make turns.

What a feature! Engaging and fun help with fuel economy and of course the environment. My favourite on the e:HEV.

Boot space and Cabin

The boot space is quite acceptable, I had a large foldable baby stroller (which is about 70% the size of a plane check-in bag) and a cabin bag. 4 Small ish duffel bags/backpacks of varying sizes. One fit under the boot next to the spare wheel. These fit in without much fuss and they could fit a bit more if there are bags that are of a standard shape and you plan this. A decent amount for a family trip for a few days away.

The e:HEV cabin feels better and more premium compared to the regular City (I think mainly due to colour, I am not a fan of beige)

The Head Unit is not the best but gets the job done. The only thing I really missed was a volume control knob!

There are absolutely no heating issues in the battery compartment/boot. After a straight 5.5-hour trip, the boot compartment was at room temperature. The steel spare wheel straight over the batteries was not even warm, just room temperature.

I give it a thumbs up. If you can spare the cash, it is definitely worth it for a no-nonsense practical sedan, that also lets you have a bit more fun than its petrol cousin. (I consciously say cousin and not sibling)

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