Honda recently crossed 1.5 million customers in the Indian market. While that is a commendable achievement, it must also be kept in mind that it’s been possible only because of one car. And that is the Honda City. It was the first car that Honda Siel brought to India, and it still happens to be the strongest player in the company’s wider-than-ever range of cars and SUVs. Its success can be attributed to the regular updates that have helped the company maintain the quality and the brand value of the City.
The Honda City has maintained its position as the segment leader in more ways than one. The exterior styling ,for instance has been thoroughly updated at frequent intervals. The overall shape is still recognisable as it follows the ‘ZX’ closely, but everything else is different. The frontal design, the rather imposing array of LED DRLs and headlamps, the smart-looking alloys, and an equally dynamic-looking rear; they all make the Honda City a force to reckon with. But if you’re looking to find bits of the Honda City that came to the Indian market twenty years ago, you’d be disappointed.
The premium positioning — and the price one pays for that — wouldn’t be justified in the cabin isn’t like what it’s supposed to be in a Rs 10+ lakh car. To anyone’s surprise, Honda has ensured the interior has enough class and space to justify that. The rear-seat comfort is second to none in the segment while finding the right driving position is simple as well. The gadgets on offer, including the DIGIPAD infotainment system (with Internet functionality) and touch-panel controls for the AC are some of the things that make the Honda City a class above the rest. The top variants get six airbags, sunroof, puddle lamps, etc.!
The Honda City was always known for its engine, and twenty years hence, that hasn’t changed one bit. There are two engines on sale now: a tried, tested, and loved 1.5-litre petrol (i-VTEC) that makes 119 PS and 145 Nm, and a rather new 1.5-litre diesel (i-DTEC) that makes 100 PS and 200 Nm. The petrol engine comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox while the diesel gets a 6-speed manual. Those looking for automatics can also choose the CVT-equipped Honda City Petrol AT. It gets paddle shifters on the CVT version.
It’s no surprise that buying the Honda City is a rather pricey affair. There are five basic trim levels of the Honda City Petrol (and two special editions at present), with prices starting at Rs 8,77 lakh. On the other hand, the Honda City Diesel skips the base ’S’ trim and instead comes from the SV trim onwards. The prices for that start at Rs 11.1 lakh and go all the way up to Rs 13.92 lakh. The most expensive petrol in comparison is 13.8 lakhs.
In terms of competition, if you’re looking at saving some money then the Ciaz makes a lot of sense. For everything else, and a bit of driving fun, the Hyundai Verna is hard to beat.