The City gets a nip and tuck to keep it fresh

Evo India - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy: Vishnu G Haar­i­nath

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

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