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A tale of the new City

A tale of the new City

The looks

I think the new City looks terrific. The styling is contemporary, with a flair that is appealing—and young. The car’s face looks a lot like Honda’s fuel cell FCX Clarity. The rear seems BMW-inspired, but Honda designers have looked to Bavaria before, so I’m not too surprised by that. The car looks grown-up, sophisticated, and yet has a sporty, ready-for-action aggression—which is a remarkable coup for Honda design. The car is 5mm wider and longer now, while the wheelbase is 100mm longer, which gives you greater cabin space.

The interiors

The interiors are rather flamboyant, with the dash swooping in to the central console, which houses the music system. The colours are pleasant, and while there’s no leather upholstery, the beige fabric works. The base version has grey trim.

Also See New ‘City’ in town (Video story)

The car’s instrument cluster is smart, though the orange display could have been a bit more sophisticated and subtle. The instruments do include a screen that gives you instant running mileage, average trip mileage, distance-to-empty, besides odo and trip meters.

Also See Specifications (Graphic)

The power

Honda wanted the new car to be sporty and yet frugal—since that is a big requirement for the segment’s buyers. This car has an iVTEC engine across variants from the word go. They’ve taken the old 1.5 litre engine block, but instead of the previous iDSI system, it has been infused with the more powerful iVTEC.

The ride

I found that the new engine—while peppy and responsive—lacks just that little extra spice when you want raw power. But for everyday use, and even highway driving, it is satisfying and has enough go. The engine and transmission are very smooth, and the refinement is obvious when you compare it to cars such as the Maruti SX4 or Hyundai Verna petrol. At high speeds, I found the car’s handling to be much improved—and this is also helped by the fact that it now has a wider track and, more importantly, a longer wheelbase. This gives it a more sure-footed feel over the previous model. I do feel that the steering should have a bit more feedback, even though I found the car has better road manners and is more responsive overall.

High-speed cornering is a tad disappointing and this is probably because Honda has opted for skinny tyres. I’d have preferred fatter rubber, and in fact alloy wheels, too—which are only optional.

The music

I’ve got to say, the music system is very cool! A first from any car maker, and even from Honda. In India, the system does away with antiquated cassettes and hey, even CDs are now passé. It only runs stored media, courtesy either your stick drive, MP3 player, or your iPod. And what’s great, it comes with the USB interface cable, so once you’re connected, you can access your device through the car’s music system controls. But strangely, older iPods don’t work—the screen actually reads “old version"! This, I think, is a downer for people who have their favourite music stored in early iPod models. There are steering mounted music system controls—which even the Civic and Accord don’t have! The base “E" variant has no music system or steering-mounted controls.


All variants have anti-lock braking or ABS, and dual front airbags as standard. Honda’s G-CON impact-absorbing body shell is also standard.

The drawbacks

No variant has fog lights, and the front bumper seems to have no provision for a dealer-level fitment. I find it a bit odd. As I said, alloy wheels are also only optional, while even Maruti’s SX4, Ford’s Fiesta and the Hyundai Verna have them as standard on the top-end. The City’s got central locking but it does not auto-lock when you start driving.

The cost

This car was expected only at the end of the year, but Honda expedited the launch, to catch the festive season buying rush. But while bookings are now open, deliveries will, in fact, begin only in November. The new City was expected to be expensive, so Honda’s pricing has surprised. It’s been done by increasing local content, which includes body panels and even the engine. Prices start at Rs7.70 lakh for the base “E" manual variant, Rs8.20 lakh for the top-end manual “S", and the top-end automatic “S" is at Rs8.90 lakh. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi.

The rating

The City once again sets a new segment benchmark. It combines great styling with performance and efficiency. Sure, it’s not a steal, but there’s plenty here to send rivals back to the drawing board, that too in a hurry. I suspect this car will also give big sister Civic a run for its money.

Siddharth Vinayak Patankar is editor, auto, NDTV. He writes a monthly column, Road Runner, for Business of Life

Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com




OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) TVs are the promise of the future, offering a startlingly vivid picture while consuming little energy (but at the moment, a lot of money). You can, however, have the same kind of technology in a pocket-size picture viewer right now without taking out a second mortgage. Digital Foci has produced a 2.8-inch OLED-screen photo viewer. The $99 player uses modest power, playing for up to 5 hours from its built-in lithium-polymer battery. It holds about 4,000 pictures in its 128MB memory. Pictures are resized by the included software. The screen is viewable from oblique angles, so a few friends can see the show at the same time. (Roy Furchgott / NYT)

©2008/The New York Times


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©2008/The New York Times


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