The first choice for those looking to upgrade from premium hatchbacks and entry sedans, the Honda City remains the most popular petrol mid-size sedan in the country. Currently in its third generation, the City was Honda’s first car brand for India and, till recently, was also its highest volume model till the Amaze took over earlier this year. However, the City still commands a high aspirational value among India’s burgeoning urban middle class, holding its fort for almost two decade despite intense competition.
So when the time came for the fourth-generation City to make its debut, could Honda offer an even better deal than it already is? The Japanese carmaker did a customer survey that said that buyers have very high expectations from Honda—the City should be stylish, spacious and performance-oriented, even while promising great fuel economy. That may seem a tall target, but Honda decided to give it all in the new City that will be launched next month.
We recently drove the new City, which will feature a diesel engine for the first time that promises the highest mileage among conventional petrol/diesel cars. On the outside, the new City largely sticks to the proportions of the outgoing model, but has gone a complete re-design to give it a more premium look than ever before. The City has definitely stepped a level up—while overall car length remains at 4,440 mm, interior space has increased because of a 50 mm increase in wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles) to 2,600 mm. Ground clearance has also gone up by 10 mm to address problems with the previous generation model which found its underbelly often scratched on bad road surfaces.
The diesel engine has been borrowed directly from the Amaze, Honda’s new ‘Earthdreams’ 1.5 litre i-DTEC power plant delivering 100PS (3,600rpm) of power and 200Nm (1,750 rpm) of torque. The only difference is that in the City it is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, as compared to a 5-speed in the Amaze. The good part is that the diesel City is extremely fuel-efficient at 26 kmpl, and with maximum power coming in at such lower engine revs, the acceleration is a delight and the car is extremely easy to drive in traffic. The bad part, though, is that one feels a lack of power at higher speeds, which I feel is a compromise on performance—in comparison, the Hyundai Verna 1.6 litre diesel puts