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All-New Honda City First Drive Review - A Sedan Making Sense in the World of SUVs

Arjit Garg

Back in 1998 when carmakers in India were launching affordable hatchbacks, Honda Decided to enter India with a seemingly premium product sedan called the City. 22 years down the line, when carmakers are going all about SUVs, Honda has decided to launch the 5th-Gen of the City. However things are quite different this time. The Honda City is one of the India's most trusted brand name and longest running nameplate. Also, Honda has promised the all-new City to be bigger and better.

We were supposed to review the all-new Honda City back in March, but then the lockdown happened. Anyways, we have started to review the cars again as the lockdown has been eased, keeping in mind all the safety precautions. Let's see if the New Honda City was worth all this wait.

Watch our first drive review here:


Design

In my personal opinion, the Mid-size Sedan segment is slowly losing its popularity in India among the youth and mostly the office going, chauffeur-driven executives want to own such a car. And this is where Honda City excels. Without going over the top, Honda has maintained a very niche design for the new City.

The biggest USP of the new City is the fact that the design changes are subtle yet elevates the overall profile. Upfront is the new trademark Honda design language adding a large thick chrome grille called the Solid Wing Face, giving it the Accord inspired look.

2020 Honda City grille. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City grille. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

The highlight though, is the beautifully crafted LED headlamps with 9 LED arrays that make the face look aggressive and yet attractive. The sides now get sharper lines. At the rear are the large wraparound taillights that make the City look posh even from behind.

Not just the design, but Honda has tweaked the dimensions too and the New City is both longer and wider than the outgoing model. As per Honda, they have been able to liberate additional space inside the cabin thanks to the exterior dimensions and it's similar to that of previous Honda Civic, which is a huge improvement.

2020 Honda City side profile. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City side profile. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

Cabin

Moving inside the cabin, the first thing you notice the spacious cabin with the sense of airyness thanks to the interesting use of Black, Beige and Grey colour tones. The spaciousness in the cabin is not just a feeling, but you actually get a lot of space, be it for the front seats or the back seats, where I am assuming a lot of people would want to sit. The legroom at the rear is generous to say the least. Even the seats are comfortable with enough cushioning and thigh support to make you feel at home. The boot space is 506-litre and is deep enough for big bags.

As for the console design, the Honda engineers and designers deserve a pat on their back. The new City’s central console layout is classy, attractive, functional and most importantly, has impeccable fit and finish. You get a 8-inch system with a neat layout, rotary knobs for Aircon unit and vertically stacked AC vents. Even the instrument panel with 7-inch TFT display is designed to excite the driver inside you. And then there’s an exhaustive feature list, few of which are particularly of my liking.

2020 Honda City cabin. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City cabin. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

We shot the New Honda City in the peak summers of Delhi-NCR, with temperatures outside reaching 45-degrees. One feature that I really appreciate in such conditions apart from all the gimmicks that a connected app has to offer is the remote AC function thanks to the Honda Connect technology. Since putting on the AC means the engine has to start, this function is only available in the Honda City CVT variants.

Not just the Honda connect, Honda has also partnered with Amazon to offer Alexa support for its connected technology. But then, you will have to operate all these functions using voice commands, which you have to learn and for me, it is a tedious job. I prefer the simple apps like Honda connect which gets 32 connected features. Honda City also gets a sunroof, rear sun shade, ambient light among others in terms of features.

2020 Honda City back seat. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City back seat. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

Performance

The all-new Honda City gets 2 engine options, a petrol and a diesel motor, both 1.5-litre in capacity. The one we drove was the petrol model with a claimed mileage of 18.4 kmpl in CVT version and 17.8 kmpl in the Manual version. The diesel engine, on the other hand has a claimed 24 kmpl mileage.

The power output in the petrol motor is 121 ps and 145 Nm. The diesel engine generates 100 ps and 200 Nm of output. While the petrol engine gets a 6 speed manual and a CVT gearbox, the diesel only gets a manual unit. Now that we are done with numbers, here’s what I feel after driving the new City in one word – Flabbergasted.

2020 Honda City instrument cluster. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City instrument cluster. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

Now you see, we journalists have been driving so many SUVs off late, it seems like I forgot the fun of driving sedans. And on the top of that, the new 1.5-litre petrol engine was a delight to drive around the smooth roads of Noida. Honda says they have worked a great deal on the new petrol engine and you feel it rightaway. The engine is smooth, refined and amply powerful.

The CVT gearbox complements the smooth engine with very less rubberband effect, something which earlier Hondas are known for. I also drove the manual City and it was equally fun, with a slick gearbox. Me, however, love driving the auto gearbox, using the paddle shifters whenever possible and how good it felt to use the ones in the City.

2020 Honda City CVT gearbox. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City CVT gearbox. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

Not just the engine and gearbox, the overall vehicle dynamics work in your favour to give you a pleasurable driving experience. Right from the chunky steering wheel which is equally good to hold and offers precision handling to the planted ride thanks to the suspension setup. Even the NVH levels, barring the few moments when you are trying to accelerate CVT equipped model too hard, are massively refined.

However, if I have to point out a couple of negatives, it has to be the brakes, which could have been better and the very fact that you are driving a sedan reduces a bit of confidence in terms of ground clearance when going over the speed breakers or through bad patch of road. Also the suspension was on a bit of the stiffer side, as I felt a lots of potholes inside the car.

2020 Honda City iVTEC badge for petrol engine. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City iVTEC badge for petrol engine. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

Safety

Lastly, the safety tech in the new Honda City is as exhaustive as the features. Honda has clearly raised the bar with the set of safety equipment they are offering in the new model and that too apart from the Honda Connect. Just so you know, the new Honda City is ASEAN 5-star safety rated car thanks to technology like a blind spot detector or 'LaneWatch' which provides the live feed on the infotainment system using a side camera below the ORVM, multi-view rear parking camera, vehicle stability assist, and 6 airbags among others.

2020 Honda City rear 3/4th. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

2020 Honda City rear 3/4th. (Image Credit: Manav Sinha/ News18.com)

Verdict

What I like about the all-new 5th-gen Honda City is the fact that it gets the cabin space of Honda Civic, design somewhat inspired from Honda Accord and the successful brand name and pricing of the City, essentially combining the best of the three sedan segments. And then there are added connected features, segment best safety features and a refined powertrain. For me the all-new Honda City is one of those handful of sedans that still holds its value in the world of SUVs and should be a car high on your list if you are looking to buy a classy and comfortable car.