Honda’s engineering brilliance has been embodied by its i-VTEC engines, but this time around Honda is counting on its i-DTEC diesel motor to script the next chapter of its success story in India. The diesel motor in question is the 1.5-litre i-DTEC that debuted in the Amaze. The engine itself has been carried over unchanged to the City. The gearbox is shared too, and the first five gears are identical to the smaller saloon, with a new sixth gear specifically for the City. Even though the City is roughly 45kg lighter than the previous-generation car, it is still 90kg heavier than the Amaze, so a shorter ratio is used for the final drive to extract a bit more zing from the 20.4kgm of torque. In fact, Honda claims that the City i-DTEC will be the most fuel-efficient car in the country, with a claimed fuel efficiency of 26kpl! We can’t wait to put it through our test cycle in Mumbai to see how it performs in the real world.
On our first drive in Jaipur, however, our first impression of this car is that it has minimal turbo lag. The responsiveness even under 2,000rpm is very handy. Once past the 2,000rpm, the motor pulls cleanly to over 3,600rpm, making it hassle-free in the city and outside it. Although revving it to its 4,000rpm redline offered little advantage, and it did highlight this motor’s sore point – the engine noise. Since the abundance of engine noise was a bugbear of ours in the Amaze, better sound insulation was almost taken for granted in the diesel City, and it is slightly more refined than its little sibling. Sadly, the coarse engine rumble is still clearly audible in the cabin, and it’s not quiet enough for the class standard.
Despite this foible, the diesel is sure to hog a big chunk of the sales, but true Honda fans will no doubt be keen to know more about the petrol.
However, the back seat is a place you don’t want to miss in this car. Step in through the rear doors and it feels like the City has been stretched by 50cm not 50mm. Knee room is ample, and the seat base is generous, with lots of under-thigh support. Dedicated air-conditioning vents for the rear passengers and two power outlets round off a sumptuous back seat.
Honda is trying to wow the people in the front seats too. The company has been getting some flak for the interiors of its cars and things have changed significantly with the new City. The design looks richer, with a silver 'T' running across the dash, and the glossy piano black trim adds to the appeal too.
There’s also plenty of equipment on offer. The instruments for the driver are big and easy to read, rings around the dials glow blue or green (depending on your driving style) and the chunky steering wheel is a high point, with well damped switches for the music and telephony. After much criticism for its omission in the previous City, the music system brings back a CD player (with DVD support too), along with the now mandatory Bluetooth, USB and Aux-in. A five-inch screen is the interface for the music system, while the air conditioning system is operated via a touch panel. And let’s not forget, the City also offers a sunroof.
But while the cabin is well equipped and well specced, it doesn’t feel cohesive. In terms of design, the LCD display for the music system looks lost in the piano black surround.
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