It’s an open secret that India’s car market is driven by hatchbacks an SUVs, with many now adhering to the crossover life and the versatility it offers. However, there are still family car buyers who prefer mid-size sedans and appreciate the traditional low-slung silhouette, cushy ride and that secured feeling in the corners thanks to their lower centre of gravity. That equation cannot be delivered more aptly than the Honda City, the quintessential midsize sedan that’s so good it makes you question why upgrade to a crossover. Having won our previous comparison test against the much newer Toyota Yaris, the City now faces increasing competition from the refreshed Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. We think the Maruti is definitely better than ever, however, is it a match for the long-time benchmark? Let’s find out.
We have always liked the well-balanced look of the Ciaz and this updates takes a good thing and makes it even better. Speaking of which, the new bits include restyled headlights, 16-inch alloys and taillights. All in all, the new Ciaz looks just right and well balanced as ever. Also, there is no mistaking its length – the Ciaz is the longest sedan in its segment and it’s something that’s a hit with sedan buyers.
Despite being around for some time, the City still looks up to date with today’s ever changing design standards. Right from the thick chrome grille, the all-LED headlights (which look smashing at night), those shiny razor cut alloy wheels and the boot lid spoiler; all contribute to give the City a strong road presence and a well-balanced look. Overall, it’s a close tussle for road presence, but with its edgier front and a more glistening look, the City takes the win.
Round one may have gone to the City, but then the Ciaz claws back some ground with its bright and airy cabin ambience. From the new dull wood grain accents on the dash and the door pads to the heavy usage of beige, the materials used and the general layout is pleasantly coherent. That said, the lack of soft-touch plastics and some of the materials derived from cheaper Maruti models isn’t what you would call generous.
In comparison, the City has a sharper and subjectively, a cooler looking cabin. It also has shiny scratchy plastics that neither look nor feel like they are worth the Rs 15 lakhs-plus price tag. In terms of appearance, the Ciaz has a more straight forward cabin whereas the City tries to spice things up with its multilayer dash and the funky touch controls for the air-con.
If you plan to have more than two people regularly then the Ciaz is going to be a better bet, as revealed by our measuring tape. Up front, the Maruti benefits from more legroom and slightly better headroom. Although both have similarly supportive seats, the Ciaz edges ahead when it comes to visibility – it’s dash is set lower and the pillars all around are thinner as well. The Ciaz has always been impressive when we talk rear seat space and comfort. Now although the facelift doesn’t bring about any improvements, it is easy to appreciate the ample amount of legroom. If you are looking to be chauffeured around, the legroom with the front passenger seat pushed forward is simply astonishing. That said, we would have like the rear seat base to be longer because the under thigh support is slightly lacking in here. The City’s rear seat, in comparison, not only has more thigh support but is also better countered, however, there isn’t as much knee room. All in all, both these cars have plenty of space for four occupants though we would like to add that lankier occupants would be slightly more comfortable riding in the Ciaz.
Mid-size sedans have come a long way when we talk features. While things like climate control, steering mounted controls, height adjustable driver seat, electric mirrors and a multimedia system are standard fare, there are some differences beyond these common features. The Honda is better equipped of the two, featuring six airbags, a sunroof and internal media storage as additional features over the Ciaz. As for the infotainment systems, neither are standouts for audio quality though it’s the City’s 7-inch system that comes with more goodies including a 1.5 GB storage, a WiFi receiver and an HDMI port.
Ease Of Driving
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.
It’s a close battle between these two in terms of fuel efficiency. Under our test cycle, the Ciaz managed 12.29kmpl in the city and 15.34kmpl on the highway. The City, meanwhile, returned 11.4kmpl in the city and 16.2kmpl on the highway. The latter manages to be more fuel efficient on the highways thanks to the 7-step CVT varying the gear ratios as per the speed, thus allowing the engine to spin at lower revs.
Maruti Suzuki Ciaz AT
Price: Rs 12.87 lakhs on-road Mumbai
The updated Maruti Suzuki Ciaz is a hugely capable midsize sedan that’s more luxurious and better to look at, compared to its predecessor. It is extremely comfortable and has a splendid ride quality. However, it loses out to the Honda on the drivetrain front – the 1.5-litre motor, although refined, offers average performance and the power sapping 4-speed automatic simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Sure, it’s considerably cheaper than the City but then it misses out on some essential features that usually appeal to sedan buyers.
Honda City AT
Price: Rs 16.67 lakhs on-road Mumbai
The quintessential midsize sedan, the Honda City is untouchable even after being around for a couple of years. In many key areas including performance, features, drivetrain and resale value, it’s the City that prevails. All in all, it’s a close battle and both are good choices if a comfy automatic sedan is what you are looking for but it’s the evergreen Honda City that wins on points given its smoother CVT and better-equipped cabin.
Note: Scroll down to view full points breakdown
Pictures by Kapil Angane
|CAR NAME||Maruti Suzuki Ciaz||Honda City|
|Variant||Alpha AT||ZX AT|
|Installation||Front, transverse||Front, transverse|
|Displacement||4 cyls, 1462cc||4 cyls, 1497cc|
|Power||103bhp at 6000rpm||116bhp at 6600rpm|
|Torque||138Nm at 4400rpm||145Nm at 4600rpm|
|Power to weight||91.15bhp per tonne||104.5bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||122.1Nm per tonne||130.63Nm per tonne|
|Gearbox||4-speed torque converter||7-Step CVT|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Kerb weight (measured)||1130kg||1110kg|
|Tyres||195/55 R16||185/55 R16|
|Type||Rack and pinion||Rack and pinion|
|Type of assist||Electric||Electric|
|CAR NAME||Maruti Suzuki Ciaz||Honda City|
|Variant||Alpha AT||ZX AT|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING|
|80-0kmph||26.97m at 2.94 secs||26.87m at 2.44 secs|
|Tank size||42 litres||40 litres|
|Seat base length||480mm||480mm|
|Loading lip height||760mm||760mm|
|Feeling of space||20||14||14|
|IN THE CABIN|
|Feel of quality||20||13||13|