The biggest difference between this pair lies in their respective bonnets. The Ciaz sports a new 103bhp/138Nm 1.5-litre petrol motor paired to a 4-speed torque converter automatic, whereas Honda’s 1.5-litre motor makes more power and torque at 119bhp and 145Nm. The 7-step CVT in the City is also a world apart from its rival here.
On the road, the higher output comes to the fore in the City – it feels perkier, moving its 1110kg heft with ease. Be it coming out of a tight corner or driving up an incline, the more powerful Honda always felt punchier. That being said, there is a price to pay – this relatively old engine is not as refined as the Ciaz which is pleasantly quiet at idle and even under normal driving, remains unobtrusive and refined. The City though fights back when it comes to highway driving – it gains speeds more swiftly and while there is some delay between the press of the throttle and actual momentum, switching the gearbox to S endows decent throttle response as Sport mode hangs onto higher revs for longer. Meanwhile, the 4-speed auto in the Ciaz feels dated even under normal driving. Although the upshifts and downshifts are quite smooth, the gearbox itself is slow to kick down and overall, it lacks the crisp response and smoothness of its rival.
Both the Ciaz and the City are capable of cruising at highway speeds with ease but it’s the former that feels more relaxed thanks to a more refined engine and better insulation. The City, on the other hand, is noisy at high speeds with more engine noise and tyre roar than we would like. Naturally, the more powerful City is quicker flat out, hitting 100kmph from standstill in 11.74 seconds to Ciaz’s 12.83 seconds which is fairly respectable. What’s surprising though is that the Maruti almost matches the Honda when it comes to in-gear acceleration, covering 40-100kmph in 9.76 seconds which is only a tenth of a second off the City’s time.
Both offer fairly unobtrusive ride quality, be it within city limits or over longer distances. Around town, the Ciaz feels solid and its ride quality is absorbent without getting too soft whereas the City rides firmly and is more sensitive to surface changes. It can get a little fidgety going over the same spots wherein the Ciaz feels unaffected. The City though puts up a better show at highway speeds by remaining thoroughly composed and delivering a smooth ride. At similar speeds, the Ciaz is noticeably softer with its body movement as it tends to bottom out more over long undulations.