HONDA CITY FACELIFT
The City gets a nip and tuck to keep it fresh
WWHILE YOU HAVE TO look long and hard to spot the changes to the Audi A3 on the previous pages, the changes on this car are far more apparent. Say hello to the ‘new’ 2017 Honda City, and before you ask, no it isn’t all-new. What this is, is a facelift — a mid-life refresh to keep the City relevant until the next generation arrives.
This is the fourth generation of the City and was launched way back in 2014. Rivals like the Ciaz were nibbling away at its market share and with a new Verna around the corner, Honda needed to do something to keep eyeballs trained towards the City.
With this update, you can tell that Honda is focussing on being premium. Yoichiro Ueno, President and CEO of Honda Cars India said the exact same thing over dinner to the Ed – that Honda is trying to go more premium. That’s why they’ve brought in the Accord Hybrid. And that’s why they’ve given the City a dose of this premiumness as well.
Right, so what’s changed? Firstly, there is the arrival of a new variant — the ZX variant that sits at the top of the City range now. In addition to this, there are a number of visual updates on the outside as well as the inside to keep the City looking contemporary, and upmarket.
The nose gets the most attention. The headlamps have been changed, as has the bumper, grille and bonnet. The headlamps now have LED DRLs (on all variants) and house LED headlamps (on top two variants). There are more LEDs – in the fog lamps and on the tail lamps. The grille now gets an extra chrome strip at the bottom, rather nicely complimenting the chunky signature Honda chrome strip in the centre. The bumper has been made a little more angular and the lines on the bonnet are sharper. The wheels on the top three variants are now larger — 16-inchers replacing the 15s and running wider 185 section rubber and they’re sure to give the City better stability while reducing the tyre squeal as well as understeer that we’d always complained about.
The changes look good in the flesh — the unmistakable shape of the City hasn’t changed but the details certainly lend an air of sophistication.
There are changes on the inside as well, the highlight being the new Digipad touchscreen infotainment system. The system certainly has no lack of connectivity — 2 micro SD card slots, 2 USB ports, an HDMI input and 1.5GB of internal memory. All this, plus it can connect to the internet through a dongle (sold as an accessory) or Wi-Fi, and it can integrate with your Android smartphone through MirrorLink (sorry iPhone users, no Apple CarPlay).
Mechanically the car has remained unchanged. The same engines have been carried over — the 1.5-litre petrol engine and 1.5-litre diesel engine. The petrol comes with a five-speed manual as standard, but gets the option of a CVT while the diesel is only available with a six-speed manual. We drove the petrol CVT and the diesel manual, both in the ZX trim. The petrol engine is still lovely — it makes 117bhp and 145Nm and is superbly refined, though the CVT does tend to have the rubber band effect inherent in such ’boxes. You do get paddles though, so you do have a certain amount of control over how the ’box behaves. The diesel makes 99bhp and 200Nm, and is the same motor notorious for its clatter and noise. Honda claimed to have reduced NVH levels using better insulation and cabin noise levels have gone down. The engine is still more audible than its rivals but ambient noise from traffic and the like has reduced a fair bit. Ride quality is just like the older City’s — it makes for a comfortable ride in the city. It soaks up most undulations without an issue, with only really harsh stuff unsettling it. The steering is vague and not particularly confidence inspiring and the soft suspension means it doesn’t have the same intent going around bends as its European rivals.
However, the cabin is a nicer place to be. The new touchscreen available on all variants except the base S and SX variants is a handy
With this update, you can tell that
Honda is focussing on being premium
All variants get ABS with EBD and dual airbags, while the ZX variant gets six airbags
unit to have on board. It has got a high-resolution display which is responsive to touch and isn’t frustrating to use. The interface is simple to navigate through and offers a lot of connectivity — you can even use it as a browser courtesy the Wi-Fi connectivity, though I don’t recommend you do so while driving. The screen also doubles up as a reversing camera, though weirdly Honda hasn’t provided any sensors to go along with it. Small touches to the interiors make it a lot more premium — the top-of-the-line car now gets automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers and automatic folding mirrors. The buttons on the steering are well damped and don’t feel plastic-ky and cheap. Honda have upped the ante on the safety front as well — while all variants get ABS with EBD and dual airbags, the ZX variant now gets a total of six airbags.
The updates to the City are welcome and the prices of the base variants haven’t gone up too much — they are almost on par with the pre-facelift prices. However the addition of the new top-of-the-line ZX variant opens up even more of a gap to the Ciaz and (nearly similarly equipped) Verna. In fact, the price gap to the current best-seller in this segment, the Ciaz, is 3.5 lakh rupees for the petrol and 4 lakh for the diesel (the Ciaz SVHS also benefits from the hybrid subsidies).
What is indisputable is that all these updates have made the City considerably more premium than its rivals. And if Honda has to regain lost market share it needs to go back to where it once was – at the premium end of all the segments it operates in. This ‘new’ City is a step in the right direction.L
Above: Engine carried over from the older car. Right: Updated interiors look more premium
Above: The nose gets the most updates. Right: DRL and LED headlamps on the topend variants. Far right: Sensitive touchscreen is intuitive to use. Below: Updated tail lamp cluster gets LEDs too