A City that’s slicker
Honda added a boot — a large one — to the staple hatch, adding capacity to comfort
MANY of us have downsized to smaller cars but we haven’t necessarily downsized our thinking. Some of us still want to squeeze in a family and accommodate the stuff that families want to take with them — often it’s more than can reasonably fit in a hatch.
Hearing a plaintive call, Holden came out with the Barina sedan, Toyota the booted Yaris, Nissan the similar Tiida. Honda’s response came in the form of the City, in effect a Jazz hatch with a boot, and a surprisingly large boot at that.
The City was a close mechanical cousin of the Jazz, sharing the hatch’s 1.5-litre engine and suspension. Where the two differed was the City‘s cavernous boot — larger even than a Holden Commodore’s. Bring the 60-40 split-folding rear seat into play and it was bigger even than the Accord and Accord Euro.
As with the Jazz, the City seated five. According to the tape it was the same width as the Jazz but a little lower, while adding the boot made it a massive 510mm longer and it rode on an extended wheelbase.
There were two variants at launch in 2009, the wellequipped VTi and the VTi-L with even more gear.
Shared with the Jazz, the engine in both was a 1.5-litre four-cylinder (88kW/145Nm).
Transmission options were a five-speed manual, or the more common five-speed auto, with miserly fuel consumption — 6.3L-6.6L/100km.
The City began life with a four-star crash rating from ANCAP, but it was upgraded to full marks with the release of the 2011 update, which included electronic stability control.
On the road the City was an appealing performer without being exhilarating. It was quiet, the cabin was comfortable, it handled and steered well and the engine got the job done without any fuss.
It upheld Honda’s reputation for quality fit and finish.
None of the owners we surveyed reported major problems or abiding concerns with their cars. There was nothing that could be related to build quality. Even better, none reported any reliability issues, earning the little Honda a big tick of approval.
With one exception, City owners heaped praise on the fuel economy of their cars — the consumption they have measured lines up well with Honda’s claimed averages.
Mechanically, the City is conventional; it’s all well proven and reliable.
The five-speed manual was not the most popular option with buyers and the auto is a regular torque converter job. In the later series, Honda introduced a constantly variable transmission, which anecdotally is performing well.
With reliability a non-issue, it’s important to focus on condition and maintenance.
Check your chosen car’s service record for a history of regular maintenance at a creditable service agent. It’s best if servicing was carried out by a dealer or an independent mechanic who has knowledge and experience of Hondas.
Give the body a close inspection looking for mismatching or blotchy paint, stone chips, scratches and scrapes. Inside, look for wear and staining on the seats and floor coverings.
The City was affected by the worldwide Takata airbag recall. Locally, Honda recalled all Citys built between 2009 and 2012. There have been no reports of anyone in Australia being injured by flying shrapnel as a result of a faulty airbag inflator but it’s better to be safe than risk it. Check that the car you are considering has been back to the dealer and had the airbag replaced.
Lyndal Reid My City is my sixth Honda and it is the only one I’ve been disappointed with. It uses too much fuel without any compensating oomph, the fuel tank is too small and I can’t read the dark red figures on the odometer.
Ross McGahan I had bought Fords since 1969 so buying the City was a major shift for me. I am very pleased with the car. The fuel consumption is amazing. It has averaged 6.7L/100km mainly driving around the city, and on a trip to the country the consumption was 4.6L. It has a surprising amount of boot space and, I think, more rear legroom than my 2006 Ford. The only complaint I have is the GPS, which is way too hard to set up.
Kim Edwards It has lots of space, not just the legroom, but also the boot, which is perfect for us as we do lots of travelling. The running costs are also low. We don’t regret buying this as a family car! Joanne Scott We’ve had no problems at all with our 2010 City, and it’s very economical. Brendan Terry We bought the City because it looked nice, was economical and “different”.
A surprisingly capacious car in a small package, the City is a keeper.