2023 Honda City
– Good fuel economy
– Great cabin space and features
– Spritely handling
– Higher-than-average pricing
– Slower than old model
– Rear drum brakes
The Honda City is the entry point to the Japanese carmaker’s generally interesting line-up of sedans for the common man. The previous version cost a bit more than its direct rivals, and was all the better for it. However, the competition has also improved now, along with commensurate price hikes of their own. The latest generation of the little Honda has its work cut out.
While the previous version was decently proportioned, the first thing that struck is how odd the new profile looked. An all-new model for 2021, the City gained more than 100 mm of length (making it about as long as a 2012 Civic), but it retained the same 2600 mm wheelbase as before, giving the car longer overhangs. Honda did their best to spruce up the styling with fancy LED headlights and 3D-effect tail lights. Large-ish 16-inch alloy wheels round out the package, although the “sportier” trim with black detailing looks more interesting than our chrome-trimmed spec.
The interior is among the better ones in the subcompact class. The dashboard is cleanly designed, with a well-appreciated “leather” strip on the passenger side to break up the hard plastic panels. The doors gets padded inserts and armrests. Aside from the well-placed touchscreen, there is not much else to talk about.
The front seats are very nicely bolstered, and there is good space both front and back, even for folks of above-average height.
The boot is large for its segment, but the rear seatback doesn’t fold down. And aside from the usual glovebox and pockets, there are also a couple of shallow storage cubbies that won’t really hold anything bigger than a deck of cards.
Tech and safety
On a positive note, the 8-inch touchscreen interface is intuitive, with Apply Carplay, Bluetooth audio et al. The 4-speaker stereo does more than a passable job, and has two USB ports available. The single-zone a/c is strong and even has rear vents, which is a rarity in this segment. Available safety features include the Honda Lanewatch blindspot camera, rear camera and Honda Sensing suite of nannies, but that is why the City’s price nudges into basic Civic segment.
Honda City engine specifications
Still powered by a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder making 119 hp at 6600 rpm (or 121 hp in the LX Sport) and 145 Nm of torque at 4300 rpm, the City is not a quick car. Our 0-100 kph run took 11.5 seconds, and actually slower than the impressive 2014 model we tested. Unfortunately the City has grown in size but hasn’t gained any power over the past 15 years of model changes.
The power is acceptable in city driving, but low-rev torque is noticeably lacking. However, the sport mode makes things spritelier by keeping the revs higher. Combined with the CVT automatic, wringing the engine to the max can get pretty noisy. Somehow the drivetrain tuning feels lazier than the last-gen City we drove, possibly to improve fuel economy without significantly updating the powertrain.
At least fuel economy remains a strong suit, as we burned 7 litres/100 km (14.3 km/litre) during our run.
Honda City handling and comfort
As we’ve come to expect from Honda, handling is very good thanks to its tightly tuned suspension, offering confidence-inspiring stability in the corners.
However, that same suspension may be responsible for the “busy” feeling on the highway, where straight-line control was affected by wind and bumps that required constant correction.
Combined with high wind noise, it can be a bit tiring to drive cross-country on the fast lane, which is something that slightly-pricier European hatchbacks are adept at.
The steering is a bit on the firm side, but it’s well weighted, even if it offers limited feedback. Honda has always paid attention to intangible “driving feel.”
The brakes are fine in regular driving, although it lacks initial bite unless you push harder on the pedal, which may be a consequence of rear drums. Our rival top choice in this segment forgo the use of rear discs as well, although it’s not as noticeable.
Speaking of our top choice, the best car in this segment has to be the current Nissan Sunny. Replacing its cheap-feeling predecessor, the Mexican-built Sunny is meant for the American market and it shows in the overall attention to detail in terms of material choices and power delivery. The Thai-built City is meant for South-East Asian markets, and makes it a bit too obvious compared to Honda’s global products. It’s still a very good car, but at its price-point, the competition has learned and caught up.
Honda City Price and Technical Specifications
Dh 72,500-84,500Current Model Introduced in:
Rear: drumsCurb Weight:
Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
Observed Test Fuel Economy:
What do you think?