2020 All New Honda City Road Test Review – Power, Beauty & Soul

If there is a sedan badge that has made its name in the India, it is the Honda City, and rightly so. The City was the 1st model to roll out from the Honda brand that entered India in a joint venture with the Shriram Group as Honda SIEL Cars. After that, there was no stopping the City badge in India as it won name, fame and fans. The Honda City instantly become a huge success and grew into a brand within the Honda brand. Fast forward to today, and here we have the latest… the 5th Generation Honda City with us for an exclusive test and review of the most iconic sedan ever seen by the Indian automotive history.

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Food for Thought

The Japanese car maker Honda originally got the City which was developed in Sedan, Van and Cabriolet forms in 1981. The 1st generation Honda City in its current sedan form broke cover way back in 1996, landing in India in 1998, this gen continued to sell here till 2003. The 2nd Generation City from 2003 was based on the Honda Jazz Platform. The 3rd Gen City came in 2008 and was a trend setter that broke away from the design language of that time to become a super hit. The 4th Generation City landed in 2014 and was the 1st one to get a Diesel heart. It is also the outgoing model currently.

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Exteriors

The Honda City in its latest and all new avatar has not only got all new design and styling, but has also grown in dimensions. The car now stands at 4,549mm long, while the older City was 4,440mm in length; 1,748mm wide, while the older one stood at 1,695mm in width. The City now has an overall height of 1,489mm against 1,495mm of the outgoing model, making it lower, while the overall wheelbase remains same as that of 2,600mm. The City now gets longer, wider and lower in height, giving that authentic sporty stance to the sedan. The face gets dominated by the huge thick chrome Honda Wing face grille, like that on the New Civic, CR-V and the Accord, taking nearly 80% of the width of the car.

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The all new sharp sleek cutting edge styled headlights that get the Accord and Civic type jewel style detailing in them, with 9 arrays of LED. They come with DRLs and also have a all white glow. These headlights also get first-in-class all LED turn lights neatly integrated in them. These could easily be the best-looking and best-detailed headlights on any sedan even in a segment higher currently. The impressive front end of the New City reminds you of the Accord and the Civic in many ways. The smooth flowing bumper gets sharp design lines and a large air dam, the bumper also houses round all led white fog lamps with black surrounds. The stooping bonnet comes with sharp character lines that run towards the front grille.

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The side profile on the New City is hugely dominated by the thick waistline that runs across the length of the car, making it look a lot muscular and longer too. Body colored wing mirrors are mounted on the door instead of the window frame, these wing mirrors are large in size and get LED turn lights mounted in them. The left mirror comes mounted with the Blind Spot detection camera. Chunky Door handles come finished in chrome. The New City drives on 16 inches diamond cut alloys in black and silver finish. The fenders get the flat pressed styling that gives a nice executive feel to the sides.

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The rear styling on this all new sedan is very catchy and unique, especially as it reminds us a lot of the BMW 3 series. The boot lid neatly engulfs the wraparound 3-D styled all LED tail lamps that extend themselves into the sides of the car to an extent. The all new rear bumper come with vertically placed stop reflectors on either corners along with the park sensors. As per us, the tail lights on the New City are the best in class in terms of styling and design. The top end trims of the New City also get electric sun/moon roof, while body colored shark-fin antenna is also a part of the equipment list on the sedan.

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The All New Honda City has a boot capacity that of 506 litres which is second best in class after Maruti Suzuki Ciaz that has the boot capacity of 510 litres. The trunk loading area is excellent with a wide opening.

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Interiors

One glance inside the cabin of the New City and you instantly realize that this car has loads of space. The City being the largest in its class now means the cabin too is the biggest. The all new dashboard is XXL in size and has a nice flat design to its top that extends itself way ahead. The dash comes in a rich looking dual-tone finish, with the top being finished in black and the lower section in beige; you also get a dash of faux wood finish that runs between the dash, adding to the premium appeal. The crash pad area on the dash gets a neat-looking hand stitched styling on faux leather that adds tons of executive class appeal.

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The vertical design AC vents come with metal finish linings around them, while the highlight of the dash is the 8-inches all new TFT color AVN screen that runs on the latest generation of Honda Connect that brings in tons of new features with it. This AVN unit has Radio, USB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and also a new Weblink method to connect smart phones. This unit works flawlessly. The only grouse here is the reverse camera output quality that’s a tad bit low. Audio quality is excellent and the latest OS loaded works smoothly and efficiently.

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The second highlight on the dashboard is the 7 inches semi digital instrument cluster, this is a half TFT, half analogue dial unit that looks classy and is very clear and crisp to view. There also is a neat corner for the MFD display on this bright and soothing TFT unit. The aircon here is a single zone climate control unit controlled via three rotary dials that have a very up market tactile ‘click’ feedback when rotated. The dial that controls the temperature for the climate control unit also gets a unique LED ring around its neck that turns red when the temperature is turned up and blue when it is turned down.

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The steering here is a new 3 spoke design with leather wrapping and metal inserts. You get cruise control, and paddle shifters are included on the CVT Petrol automatic version. The switchgears feel pretty premium and of superior quality, the door pads, window switches and other plastic quality used on the interiors also feels rather good and two levels better than the outgoing model. The seats come in beige color and get leather upholstery, while the driver’s seat gets manual height adjust. The headrests on the seats gets a unique shape that we haven’t seen on any other car model yet, offering very good support to the head. The front seats feel extremely supportive and the driver’s position is excellent. Headroom is pretty neat with a good amount of legroom and shoulder room. The rear seats can easily seat three passengers, you get rear AC vents and foldable arm rests. The downside here being the fixed rear headrests. Due to the grown dimensions of the City, leg room on the rear is excellent with loads of head and shoulder room. The seating position on the rear seats is pretty comfortable and the rear seats also get extra bolstering on the far ends to enhance the over all seating comfort.

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Engine – Drive – Transmission

The All New Honda City comes in two BS-6 engine options and two transmission options. You get the executive sedan with a 1.5-Litre i-VTEC DOCH Petrol engine with 121 PS of power and 145Nm of peak torque. This Earth Dreams Technology engine is paired to either a 6-speed manual transmission, or a CVT Automatic transmission. The City also comes powered with an option of a 1.5-Litre i-DTEC Diesel engine with 100PS of power and 200Nm of peak torque output. This oil burner engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission option.
We drove both, the Petrol Manual and CVT Automatic for this review. We will be getting you a separate review on the Diesel City very shortly.

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The 1.5L i-Vtec 4-cylinder engine feels extra refined. Honda has always been known for it’s super smooth and performance-oriented petrol engines, and the latest one takes them ahead in all departments. The City petrol feels highly spirited from the word go, especially the manual transmission one. The CVT automatic on the other hand is a boon to drive. The manual transmission is buttery smooth, with the gear ratios very well spread out. The shift feels extremely positive. The steering feels nice to grip, the feedback is positive and very well weighted. The paddle shifters on the CVT version let you get into the fun zone where you can up-shift and downshift right into the redline, revving the engine judiciously. Driving the New City Petrol involves a lot of fun factor in it and brings a wide grin to your face when you notice the power and grace that the sedan glides ahead in.

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The suspension setup is tuned to the harder side and rightly so, as it enhances the ride quality and overall drive pleasure. Engine refinement, drive pleasure, vehicle dynamics and fun factor are the key highlights of the Honda City. The NVH levels are extremely good inside the cabin, which feels super silent at all speeds.

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Safety

The 2020 All New Honda City comes with safety features like dual front, side, curtain airbags, pretensioner ELR seat belts, ISOFIX child seat anchorage point, vehicle stability assist (VSA), agile handling assist(AHA), hill start assist (HAS), emergency stop signal (ESS), tyre pressure monitoring, lane watch assist camera, rear parking sensor, auto headlamps and auto wipers etc.

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The New Honda City also gets 32 Honda Connect features that work from the mobile app. You can monitor various functions and features of the car using your Smartphone. Features like speed alert, find my car, live car location, driver scoreboard, low fuel alert, auto crash notification, speed alert, geo fencing, service alert etc. You also get with the New City India’s first Alexa Remote Voice Assist and Control feature loaded in to the car. You can control 10 features using your Amazon voice control app from your mobile handset. You can control remote functions like switching On or Off the AC, door lock unlock, lights On Off, battery health, fuel status, engine health, tyre status etc. You can also ask Alexa to open the boot or turn the car on in safety mode, ask Alexa about your next car service or check fuel levels and pollution expiry date etc., all this remotely sitting in your home, just by using your Smartphone and Alexa.

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Competition check

The Honda City rivals the likes of the Hyundai Verna, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid, to name a few.

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Verdict

The Honda City badge has always had some resounding fan following and has been regarded as the premium model from its segment. The sedan has grown in it’s generations, gotten better with time and has been a bench mark in terms of engine and refinement. The latest generation of the City is all set to take that legendary lineage ahead, the New City looks excellent, has all the right proportions and seems a much larger car. The car offers loads of features, comes with good comfort and lots of space with high levels of safety. The Honda City is back to regain the Numero Uno place in it’s segment as a very valid contender in the Executive sedan class.

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Review – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar

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