One of the gripes we have with a lot of the cars sold in India is their ride height. With the road conditions being less than ideal, it helps to have a ride that isn’t close to the ground. We loved the Honda Civic we tested but its ride height would make you reconsider buying it. Thankfully Honda has another option, the City. We tested the S variant, the middle of the range offered by Honda. The E is the entry level while the V is the luxury version. All variants are powered by the same 1.5L 4 cylinder i-VTEC engine that puts out 116HP and 108 ft lbs.
Plus: The Honda City is a very well equipped car. Aside from having manual controls to raise the seat height, everything else is powered. The stereo system is very good for a car this size, which by the way is surprisingly spacious. It is almost as big as the Civic on the inside despite having a shorter wheelbase. You can seat 4 adults comfortably along with some weekend luggage. Add another person to the mix and it gets cramped. Another plus is the mileage, which is way better than the Civic where we were lucky to break 10 kilometers per liter. In the City we saw 15… in the city. With the petrol prices hiked by Rs. 7.50 this week, people will definitely appreciate the better mileage. Oh and in case you were wondering, there is no diesel or hybrid version of the City. The ground clearance is also a boon on these roads and you can actually push the car without fear of scraping the bottom.
Minus: The 1.5L motor we felt was underpowered. Usually we enjoy Honda engines but this is the first car we felt the engine was all noise and no go. And this is inspite of pushing the motor all the way to redline where they usually make the most power. But we thought about it and this made sense. If this car had the same motor as the Civic, it would definitely beat it outright due to its lesser weight. It is kind of the same story of what Porsche did with the Cayman so that it didn’t outshine the 911. Coming to the handling, with the raised suspension, driving at highway speeds did make the car feel a little floaty. Not exactly confidence inspiring to say the least. It is fine around town though which is where most people will use the car anyway!
Overall: While we really liked the Civic, the City is really the car that makes sense for well… city driving. It is well optioned, gives great mileage and most importantly is priced to sell. And by priced to sell we are talking two thirds the price of the Civic (while getting about 80% of the Civic’s performance). How do you like them apples? Looks like we might have a winner in the compact car segment on our hands.
The 2012 Honda City S is currently on sale in India from Rs. 7,90,000 (~$15,000) to Rs. 10,65,000 (~$19,500) depending on options.
View the complete specifications of the Honda City.

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