On paper, the Yaris and the City are quite similar as both come with a petrol-automatic drivetrain including a seven-step CVT. Both the drivetrains have their own strengths and flaws. Starting with the newer car of the two, the Etios-based 1.5-litre motor in the Yaris makes 105bhp/140Nm and as one would expect, it’s pleasantly quiet at idle and even under normal driving, remains unobtrusive and refined. Honda’s 1.5-litre motor in the City makes more power at 119bhp but right about similar torque at 145Nm. Right from the word go, if feels perkier, moving this 1110kg sedan with ease. Be it coming out of a tight corner or driving up an incline, the more powerful City always felt punchier, however, there is a price to pay – the relatively old engine inhere is nowhere as refined as the Yaris. Speaking of which, the latter offers enough go for city driving and it does so with a less noisy engine but ultimately it’s a bit slow when you try to reel in that gap in traffic.
The City’s horsepower advantage meant it covered the 0-100kmph sprint in 11.74 seconds, as against the Yaris’ time of 13.84 seconds. That said, the newcomer just about managed to edge the City in-gear, with a 20-80kmph time of 8.21 seconds as against the City’s best time of 8.51 seconds. That’s because maximum torque in the Yaris comes in at 4,200rpm whereas the City’s engine ought to rev slightly higher for maximum punch.
As for the gearbox, we did notice that the CVT in the Yaris has less of the trademark rubber-band effect wherein there is an instant rise in engine revs in proportion to the gain in momentum. The City’s CVT, meanwhile, suffers heavily from this effect which makes driving in a hurry rather annoying. Like with most CVT-equipped cars, the Yaris and the City cruise at highway speeds with incredible ease but it’s the former that feels more relaxed thanks to a more refined engine, better insulation and less tyre noise. The City, on the other hand, is noisy at high speeds with more engine noise and tyre roar than we would like.
The way the Yaris deals with road imperfections and pot holes is quite impressive. At low speeds, it delivers a ride that’s absorbent without getting too soft. There’s also a good deal of suspension travel which means driving on bad roads isn’t that much of a task. Even at high speeds the Yaris remains planted over rippled, undulating surfaces. Around town, the City cannot match the compliance of the Yaris – it rides a little stiff and as a result sharp edged bumps make their way into the cabin with a loud thump. Things get better at highway speeds wherein the City remains thoroughly composed and delivers a smooth ride.
The City also takes the corners better than the Yaris, thanks to a more communicative steering, a well-balanced chassis and better front-end bite despite the lack of ESP or traction control. In comparison, the Yaris’ steering hardly has any feel and the whole car rolls noticeably more than the City.