Honda, on the 25th of November, unveiled the new City sedan for the global markets and it will go on sale from today. The car seems to have been well received by most of the global motoring press and is expected to further add to the City’s reputation in India.
Despite the lack of a diesel engine, Honda managed to sell 3,000 units of the C-Segment sedan every month last year. The new car retains much of the outgoing model’s overall design but now gets a significant number of upgrades in terms of features and more importantly, it will now be offered with a diesel engine.
In the excitement of the unveiling, we have decided to speculatively pit the new Honda City against its three main rivals the Volkswagen Vento, Skoda Rapid and the Hyundai Verna in another classic episode of ‘CarWale Comparison’.
The new Honda City Diesel is powered by the same 1.5-litre diesel mill that sits in the Amaze compact sedan. It produces 98bhp and 200Nm of torque. The Skoda Rapid and the Volkswagen Vento gets the 1.6-litre unit that produces 103bhp and 250Nm of torque, while the Verna remains the most powerful of the lot with a 1.6-litre oil burner that produces 126bhp and 260Nm of torque. The Honda City diesel has highest ARAI fuel efficiency figure of 26kmpl among its competitors (20.5 for the Vento and the Rapid, 22.3 while the Verna has an efficiency of 22.32kmpl). While It’s goal to achieve the highest in segment fuel efficiency is further helped by the six-speed manual gearbox, the Honda City in this segment is rivalled by the Hyundai Verna which has also has a six-speed manual and is also offered with a four-speed diesel AT.
The new Honda City has got major updates in terms of the exteriors but retains a majority of the overall design from the current car. At 4.44 meters it is significantly longer than the Verna (4.3 meters), the Vento (4.38 meters), the Rapid (4.386 meters) and consequently has a longer wheelbase (more interior space). The design is not as plain and simple as that of the Volkswagen Vento, neither as edgy and aggressive as the Hyundai -Verna with fluidic design philosophy.
The grille of the new Honda City has been changed to fit the Japanese automaker’s ‘Exciting H Design’ and is similar to the one found on the new Jazz/Fit. Volkswagen has always been about minimal badging and so the Vento has continued with much the same design since it was launched during the previous decade. Its Czech cousin, the Rapid recently got a facelift in the form of new Skoda badges and revisions to the rear and front but has the same overall design as before. The Verna was the first fluidic design vehicle to be launched in India and has always had people sway in its direction for its looks and design.
It has now become common place to expect certain features on C-Segment sedans these days and up until this point, the Honda City was falling short in this department. Despite the fact that Honda introduced an AVN package, it was always felt that the City lacked certain ‘take for granted’ features. Now with the new car Honda is offering a 2-Din music system, touchscreen climate control, cruise control, parking assist with rear camera, push button start, rear AC vents and a sunroof.
There is very little to differentiate the Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid in terms of interior features. The latter gets brake assist and mirror mounted OVRMs while the VW Vento is offered with an ash tray, cigarette lighter and its Bluetooth system can also be used to play music. However, there is new Polo due in 2014 which means that there will also be a new Vento a few months after the Polo is launched. It is likely that the Polo will get the segment standard features in the new car.
The Honda City was once the highest selling car in this segment, but this changed when the Indian customers started favouring diesel cars. Currently, the Hyundai Verna leads the segment, but that might change. The reputation of the City badge is unmatched and now for the first time this sedan also offers features, and cabin space that matches up with the segment leaders. Only time will tell if the Honda will bring back the numbers of its glory days, but if there is a sedan that can, especially in this SUV crazy country - it will be the Honda City.