Friday, October 31, 2008

Sexy in the City

By Christopher Tan

A picture may be worth a thousand words but in the case of the Honda City, what you see is not what you get.

The third-generation City is a looker all right. Sleek, sporty, elegant and well-proportioned, it stands tall among other made-in-Asia, made-for- Asia models.

Indeed, it is not often you find such modern lines, such poise in a budget car. Then again, the new City is not exactly a budget car. Its starting price of $66,300 is some $11,000 above its predecessor's tag. It is even pricier than the bigger, roomier and better-finished Toyota Corolla Altis.

Sure, it looks better than the sedate Corolla but is the sexy styling worth the sizeable $4,000 premium?

The answer would have been clearly a "yes" if Honda had paid as much attention to other aspects of the car as its outward appearance.

The City's cabin is a tad crusty, even for an Asian car. Clearly, efforts have been made to give it some sophistication, like an integrated centre console with iPod connectivity and paddle shifters (LX version only) on a sporty steering wheel.

But overall, the cabin comes across as overly plasticky, ill-fitted and austere.

On the go, the car is unremarkable for a Honda. It tracks well enough and the ride is adequately cushioned but it betrays an unexpected level of body roll.

Its tyres, although quiet, can do with more grip. The cabin is generally well insulated against external noises but the sound of the high-revving engine mars the ambience somewhat. Its 120bhp iVTEC power plant may be the most powerful in its class but it achieves its grunt at lofty revs. Alas, it does not sound anywhere as good as the car's sheet metal looks.

Fortunately, you do not need to summon all its horses often. The car's five- speed autobox offers highway cruising at leisurely engine speeds.

A comparable Corolla has a four-speed transmission. And the Toyota does not come with the City's nifty paddle shift options either.

Found in the LX version, they let the enthusiastic driver take over the reins instantly. And shifting down with your fingers does bring about meaningful engine braking, unlike some "Tiptronic-style" shifters in other cars.

One of the most attractive propositions of the City is its thriftiness. It achieves 12.5km per litre, even when driven with a heavy foot.

Other attributes are what you might take for granted but are nevertheless worthy improvements. They include excellent side and rear visibility, thanks partly to a clever wing mirror design, a sizeable 506-litre boot and reclinable rear seats.

While the cabin is not the last word in build quality, it does have brilliant spots. The instrument cluster, for one, not only looks good but also offers lots of useful information. The new City is built on a stretched Honda Jazz platform (new model). At 2,550mm, its wheelbase is 100mm longer than the previous City's. It is 50mm shorter than the Corolla's wheelbase. In fact, it is on the whole not as long or wide as the Toyota. It is however a mite taller.

It is probably not right to compare the City with the Corolla. But since Honda has priced its entry-level sedan above Toyota's best-selling model, it is asking for the comparison.

Honda agent Kah Motor explains that the City is priced the way it is because of its relatively high open-market value (roughly its cost price) of $19,700. The Corolla has an OMV of around $16,700.

The higher a car's OMV, the more you will get back in rebates once you scrap it. But of course, you will incur higher financing charges on your car loan in the first place.

The City's rightful rival is really Toyota's own made-for-Asia Vios. It has exactly the same wheelbase as the Vios, although the car is longer, wider and taller.

It completely outclasses the Vios in the drivetrain department but the advantage is not apparent on the road. The more compact (and lighter) Toyota comes across as a tad more nimble and zesty, even if it will not win accolades for handling either. It is also very frugal on fuel.

The Vios is $9,000 cheaper. Its equipment list may not be as impressive but its build quality certainly will match, if not exceed, the Honda's.

The bottom line?

The Honda City is a beauty with features you will normally find in a bigger car. It is however pricey. The price premium would have been easier to stomach if the Thai-made car's overall quality had been better. One interesting point to note: The previous City was exported back to Japan but Honda has decided not to do so with the new model. Apparently, no one buys sedans in Japan anymore.

Honda City LX
Engine: 1,497cc 16-valve inline-4

Transmission: Five-speed automatic with paddle shift

Power: 120bhp at 6,600rpm

Torque: 145Nm at 4,800rpm

0-100 kmh: 12.2 seconds

Top speed: 185kmh

Fuel consumption: 6.6 litres/100km (city-highway)

Price: $66,300 with COE

Distributor: Kah Motor


Afida Anuar said...

Jual city lama amik city baru. Amacam? heeeeeeee

shauqi said...

boleh.. kak fida, city baru ni nak tukar gear mcm f1 tau. power.

LeLs said...

macam siot je tajuk..


cubic baru nampak??

shauqi said...

lels ->heheheheh.. blum pindah lg..

Anonymous said...

xbosan ke keje kat MAS tu...huhuhu

nectarous said...

Apa lg coki... Tkr la la city plak..
Amaacam kt MAS? Kesian kt hang sorg2 pi smayang jumaat..

shauqi said...

jef-> nak wat camne.. bosan x bosan kene keje gak ah.. ni nak tmbh org plak.. kejap tmbh kejap buang.. tah ape2

hazim-> kesian x kat aku..haha meh la dtg cni teman aku p solat jumaat.. aku dah linkkan blog ko skalik..hehe

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