Honda has always been ahead of its game when you consider its sales performance, quality of sales and service and aspirational value. The Honda City has been a popular car since the early 2000s, but after the launch of the fourth-generation City, there was no particular surge in sales because of a lack of a diesel engine, until 2013, that is. The City has set a benchmark for itself, and has proved to be a great product with every new version that was introduced. The fifth-generation City is out and it comes equipped better than ever. But with the current SUV trend, does it still have a place in the market? We pit the new City against the old one to find out which one is better.
The old City still looks futuristic, even today, thanks to its aerodynamic nose and that chrome grille. The sleek headlights are double-barrel units and the front bumper looks sharp. Along the sides, the bodywork includes a prominent crease on the doors that starts under the door mirrors and goes all the way to the rear, intersecting the tail lights. There’s a crease on the lower half of the doors too. At the rear, it gets stylish tail lights joined by a chrome strip in the middle. The turbine fan-like alloy wheels look cool too.
The new City is longer than the older model and has a wider stance. The new City too, looks very modern and sporty. It also gets a thick bar of chrome on the grille, flanked by smart all-LED headlights that look quite sophisticated. The side profile isn’t as sharp as the older City’s, but it does get some creases that give it a good definition. The tail lights have a three-dimensional effect and the rear bumper houses two reflectors on either side.
In the Honda older City, the centre console is positioned to face the driver. The steering wheel is huge and has lots of buttons on it. It also comes with cruise control while the controls for the audio are on the left of the steering. The instrument cluster houses three pods: one for the tachometer, the speedometer and information for the trip computer, consumption and fuel gauge. The integrated audio system has no touchscreen or navigation. There are two AC vents at the rear. There is sufficient space at the back and the seat is a comfortable one.
The new City gets a fully reworked cabin, and it gets a fully digital instrument cluster. It gets a dual circular dial layout with the speedometer getting an analogue needle. The steering wheel feels nice and solid, and the big and supportive seats also provide good bolstering. There is ample space in the cabin with enough head and shoulder room. And thanks to the slim A-pillars, visibility from the cabin is good. The infotainment screen is placed a bit awkwardly. There are some hard plastics around; we wish softer materials could’ve been used. The dashboard also gets a wooden insert giving it a premium look. The back seat has a good amount of space on offer and ingress in easy, thanks to the big doors. Leg room and headroom are plentiful, and the boot is huge.
The old City comes equipped with electric mirrors and dual tone upholstery, steering mounted audio controls, driver seat height adjust, auto climate control with touch controls, shark fin antenna, rear armrest, touch screen stereo with 6 speakers and 2 tweeters, push button start with keyless entry, power folding mirrors with turn indicators, fog lamps, alloy wheels, airbags and ABS.
The new City is loaded with features like LED headlamps, LED fog lamps, leather upholstery, lane watch camera, digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting, welcome function with auto-folding door mirrors, rear sunshade, remote operation of windows and sunroof, projector headlamps with LED DRLs, 15-inch alloy wheels, 8.0-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, connected-car tech, Alexa voice integration, keyless-entry and go, ABS, traction control, cruise control, paddle shifters, remote engine start, tilt and telescopic steering adjust, driver seat height adjust and front and rear centre armrest.
Performance & Handling
The old City is powered by a 1.5-litre i-DTEC engine that makes 100bhp and 200Nm of torque, paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox. The throttle response is really good but the engine doesn’t like being redlined. The motor is refined but it isn’t as rev-happy as the petrol engine. The engine is flexible within the city, although there is some lag. The old City handles well, thanks to the stiff suspension and it doesn’t graze speed breakers anymore. At highway speeds, it bobs around a fair bit but is otherwise very composed. Unfortunately, the electric steering doesn’t weigh up and is lacking in feel.
The diesel engine is now more quiet and vibration-free when idling. The clutch is smooth and light, and once past 2000rpm, the diesel engine becomes vocal. The punchy nature of the engine is evident once the turbo kicks in and the motor pulls effortlessly till the redline. Power is linear in the mid-range and the motor is tractable too. The engine doesn’t feel strained at highway speeds and the mid-range is strong. The new City soaks in bumps well but the ride is a bit stiff. The car maintains composure at high speeds as well. The steering has more weight to it than the older car, and that’s a good thing.
The Honda City nameplate has been around for nearly 22 years and is one of the most renowned models you can buy today. The old City is not on sale anymore, but picking one up in the used market isn’t a bad idea. However, it’s the new City that wins this test because it is roomer than before, comes packed with more equipment, scores well on the safety front, is easy to drive, performs well on the highways and is fuel efficient too, making it easy on the pocket. Also, read the latest car comparisons, only at autoX.