Honda City proves itself to be an especially well-conceived city car

Honda City proves itself to be an especially well-conceived city car We recently got the facelifted Honda City for a weekend, courtesy of Honda Malaysia. Our writer who happens to drive a B-Segment variant truly appreciated the Honda City FL in “Modulo” guise.

A low-down on the Honda City FL

We discussed the regular Honda City and Modulo-typed Honda City’s general acceptance amongst the people who are on the hunt for slightly premium-priced B-Segment cars in the market. Honda has always kept core attributes in perspective, especially when it boils down to dependability, reliability, good handling and most importantly, that fun-to-drive factor from the days of the pre-facelift Honda City and the 2011 Honda City SE variants. The FL Honda City did not fair too bad as it delivered power when it was needed and stuck pretty well to the road. Though, it’s a step higher to hold the Honda badge, and pronounce to all the citizens I’m a bit better off.

Honda has always produced exciting cars. When the City first came out, it was because the Civic had gotten too fat and large. Compared to what the Civic was back in 80s, the current Honda Civic is more like what the Accord used to be back then as well. So for the pre-marriage hip executives Honda produced the City. A smaller car about the size of a Civic in the old days.

There are two types of journeys we endured this car on. First was the city driving experience. The drive through Petaling Jaya and especially Kuala Lumpur was never that fun unless you like cursing and cutting through the everyday traffic. Yes we do curse silently very often through KL, especially the ILB (I love Braking) drivers.

The unit we had came with the “Modulo” exterior kit which had some pretty fancy wheels, illuminated side steps, door visors, alloy pedals, front grille and more. The stereo set did have a USB outlet which I would assume can charge USB devices apart from functioning as an auxiliary outlet. More importantly, it’s how the City assumed its exterior, interior impressions and drivability that mattered most to us.

Interior of the Honda City

Well the interior of the car is basic, yet acceptable. How acceptable, it’s like a mother’s hug or a girlfriend’s whichever you prefer. The driver’s fabric seat is comfy and gives you more than adequate support. There are well placed armrests on both sides, and being an automatic, well you can put one tired hand on either armrest after a hard day’s work. Although a cruise control mode is excluded, the City does have a tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, and rather spacious rear seats for the passengers, including a thoughtful center pull-down arm rest with additional cup holders for added convenience. In fact this car is loaded with storage spaces, sleeves and cup holders.

Driving comfort was adequate at best. There was some sort of noise emanating from the drive train or engine, when the car was cruising. It was not apparent at first, but then we begin asking ourselves what was that noise. Outside road noise was not completely eliminated, and we thought that the City’s NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) factor was not quite as effective to ensure the mid-upper quality of ride or cruise, as would have been expected from this latest City variant. Additionally, suspension was a bit hard, but we came to realize that Honda makes fun cars and the suspension setup is suppose to be a bit firm. The cabin space and interior spacing were more than adequate as we felt solid thuds whenever we shut the doors, and yes road noise was apparent together with that irritating noise but again the car kind of held its own admirably. There weren’t the usual gizmos and add-ons like LCD screens with Bluetooth compatibility, GPS navigation and a multitude of chrome knobs and dials inside the City, but we did notice that amenities and required technologies were included into other facets of the car.

The Honda City copes delightfully well on city drives

In adversed traffic conditions, the Honda City consumed an average of 9km/l, which was rather decent for a B-segment. The night drive was especially delightful. Lights were bright, while cruising the City in the city was a charm. It took bumps and humps like a champion for its class. But let’s face it, is it worth the RM 90,000 price tag, more at the end of this review. As soon we were back to cruising the fuel consumption improved to 12km/l. Again, this is a new car and fuel consumption is expected to improve in due process. For the average Malaysian driver, the City should fare absolutely well in the long run. Exterior-wise, the City, with its “Modulo” ornaments, is a car with a bit of flair, and it is classy, modern with sharp angles. At almost every angle it’s a ‘Schoenes’ car. The unit we had was black, how wonderful, ‘sehr Schoen’.

The 5-speed Automatic Transmission worked like a charm as it changed through the gears without much delays, which greatly improved the ride quality. This smooth gear change is attributed to the DBW technology. When we accelerated to speeds of 120km/h at 2550 rpm or 110km/h at 2000 rpm, the 1.5 SOHC (Single Over-Head Cam) powerplant did produce a noticeable strain. Therefore, we reckoned that the City would be most comfortable cruising 90km/h at around 1950rpm. Though, the specifications sheet shows that the City can actually produce 120 KW of power at 6600rpm and 145NM of torque at 4800 rpm. The SOHC designation means that the powerplant is less persistent of speed, but more efficient that a DOHC (Double Over-Head). Well, this means that there is one less cam shaft in the engine. Now I did say this car was fun to drive, it was more about the handling of the car not the power. The ECO lamp did remind me when we were decimating the environment often. It’s something like a nagging wife, which keeps reminding us that we are doing something wrong, even though we know it ourselves that we are.

On the hill drive, well it’s a Honda. Its rigid body and near-perfect seats were made for this. We threw the car at every corner, it stayed firmly planted, thanks to the front’s MacPherson Struts and the rear’s H-shaped torsion beam. The car could hurry up to 110 km/h pretty quickly, which was more than needed up the tight, twisty bends and the slope. Tyres screeched, but the body roll was minimal for both driver and the front passenger. On the ascending slopes. the engine screamed all the way as it quickly pulled the City up to 80km/h. Next, we threw the car into another corner and floored down on the accelerator; this was repeated time and again. The City did not disappoint. We were happy in the way the City pushed its boundaries, and we’re almost elated the way the car held its own. The writer came to a realization that the City could actually net him an Amateur Race-up-the-hill Championship or something like that.

Entertainment amenities were basic, but sufficient. The car’s sound system played nicely to the tunes of Baroque and classical music the writer initiated. The steering audio buttons on the leather-wrapped steering made it rather easy to flip between tunes or select song folders.

The Honda City “Modulo” E grade comes standard with 185/65 R16 wheels. The car is relatively light at about 1.1 tons. For us, the Honda City is the premium of the B segment, and the suggested retail price is a testament to that. But, the full list of Safety equipment eminently justify the SRP; check out these features: Anti-lock Braking System, (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EDB), Break Assist (BA), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and G- Force Control Technology (G-CON). On the other hand, buyers can consider the more regular Honda City Grade S, and fact of the matter is – it’s the car that matters the most, not the accessories.

In all, the Honda City S or E is a nicely built car. It offers that fun-to-drive factor and is relatively cost effective to maintain. In addition, the car provides good levels of safety and is rather nippy on pick up and best of all, it has a good-sized cabin to fit 5 adults comfortably. But being a B-segment variant, RM 80k is our limit, and anything above that depends on how much you want it.

The Grade E City goes for RM 90,980 while the Grade S City is priced at RM 83,233. Although the E grade’s price is a bit hefty, buyers are assured of the Honda quality assurance and the 3-year or 100,000km warranty.

Honda City FL various images

Honda-City-E-grade-1 View the Honda City E grade in Modulo trimmings in our assorted images features..
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