Although the petrol engine is new, Honda has retained the 1.5-litre four-cylinder iDTEC diesel engine and it is available only with a six-speed manual for now. In the BS6 guise, it produces 98bhp of power at 3600rpm while the maximum torque of 200Nm is accessible from 1750rpm. Unlike before, the diesel felt a lot silent and vibe-free upon starting up and at idling thanks to improved NVH levels.
There’s ample grunt from the motor the moment you let go of the clutch – which is smooth and feels light, but it might still feel heavier compared to the petrol derivative. Where the engine was completely muted while idling, the typical diesel clatter kicks in once past 2000rpm, and it keeps filtering inside the cabin, which might not be acceptable to some buyers.
On the go, we barely noticed any lack of power under 2000rpm. But once the turbo kicks in, there’s a strong punch from the four-cylinder and it pulls cleanly all the way till the 4000rpm redline. In the mid-range (between 2000-4000rpm), the oil burner feels linear and is very tractable as well, which is pretty useful both in city and on long distance jaunts.
Speaking of which, maintaining highway speeds doesn’t strain the engine and you can keep the tacho around 2000rpm all day for smooth cruising. And for quick overtakes, dropping a gear provides strong mid-range which could do the trick. With its short throws, even the six-speed manual is smooth and easy to use. For ambling through city commutes, you can ride the low-end torque without bothering the gear lever much. Meanwhile, Honda’s claimed fuel efficiency is 24.1kmpl. However, in real world, we know this diesel is quite a frugal one.
As for the ride, the City’s suspension manages to absorb small irregularities with ease. However, these rumbles are felt inside the cabin, especially at low speeds. Over sharper edges, the ride suffers a bit owing to the stiffer set-up but it never gets jarring or uncomfortable. And as the speed increases, the sedan manages to maintain its composure when plodding over longer undulations or road joints on highways. Sitting at the back, the ride remains comfortable and there are no complaints whatsoever.
The steering is well-weighted and is direct with no delay or lags while turning in, although it could do with a tad more feedback. On the flip side, we expected better bite from the brakes though, as the pedal needs to be depressed significantly for desired braking. Overall, the new City is a fun to drive sedan.