The outgoing Honda City had come under fire from certain quarters when it launched in 2009 because of some of the cheap plastics used in the interior, most notably the AC controls. Honda has now ensured that they haven’t repeated that error – the City’s interiors have undergone an update and it is a very comprehensive one. As you get into the driver’s seat, you will notice the way the centre console is angled prominently towards the driver. This is a special feeling in this class of car. The steering wheel itself is new – it is larger and there are more buttons on it. Our top-spec VX variants had cruise control, so those buttons were placed on the right side of the wheel and the audio controls were on the left. Answering and ending calls are made by pull-type buttons, made popular by the likes of the Ford Figo and Renault Duster, but these are mounted on the steering wheel and not on the column like the latter cars.
The instrument cluster has a fresh look to it, with three circles – the left is the tachometer, the speedo dominates the centre and the right houses the rest of the information like the fuel gauge, instantaneous consumption and the trip computer information. An interesting feature is the two additional backlights on the speedo – if you drive efficiently, they turn from blue to green, which is a great one-glance indicator of how efficient your driving is. The automatic also has an ‘Eco’ button on the dashboard which tunes the car to maximum efficiency. In addition, there is keyless entry and go, just like the Sunny/Scala twins, meaning the key can remain in your pocket while you unlock the car, get in, start it and drive off.
The audio system is an integrated one but unlike the outgoing model, does not have either a touchscreen or navigation option. However, it ticks all the boxes in the features list: aux-in, USB and iPod connectivity, Bluetooth streaming with telephone capability, etc. It runs through four component speakers and is one of the better systems available from the factory in the market.
The climate control system has also been upgraded – there are two rear vents for the rear occupants, but they are true vents, unlike the recirculating fans in the Sunny/Scala twins. There is no separate blower speed control for them, though. The climate control is now operated via a capacitive touchscreen, which seems counterintuitive at first, but upon usage it feels natural immediately… at least to those who already spend time on their touchscreen smartphones. It has a few neat tricks up its sleeve: swipe the blower speed or temperature controls, and it will immediately go to the extreme speed, depending on which direction you have swiped it.
The rear seat of the City is the only place where the City lost out to some of the competition, but not anymore. Honda has increased the car’s wheelbase to 2,600mm, which now equals the Sunny’s. As a result, there is enough legroom to seat two six-footers in absolute comfort, with some left over. Rear headroom still remains a little less than the Sunny, but the rear seat is a really nice place to be, what with the two power sockets provided under the rear AC vents. Honda also claims class-leading shoulder room, which should go a long way in making this a true five-seater. These and the two seat-back pockets are what it offers over the Sunny/Scala, but legroom seems to be a little less at the front with the seat pushed all the way back. The front seats felt a little uncomfortable and they could use a little less lumbar support and a little more under-thigh support.
The petrol engine is as refined as always, contributing no noise to the cabin during regular operation, but the diesel engine is noticeably noisy. There also is a fair amount of tyre roar at highway speeds.
The boot has also increased in size to 510 litres that makes it the biggest boot in the class, as big as the Verito’s, and four more litres than the outgoing model.