The Honda City is one of those rare cars that instantly made a name for itself after its launch. Since the debut of the first-gen model in India in the late 90s, the Honda City name has commanded some serious market value. The latest model of the City may not look especially edgy or appealing, but it has been deliberately designed with a more middle-of-the-road approach – one that doesn’t favour a particular kind of taste. It’s a car that can very easily blend in amongst other cars. Its interior, too, follows a similar approach, but, in typical Honda City style, it offers segment-leading space for all occupants.
The seats are well-bolstered and supportive, and build quality is typically Honda – it’s extremely well put together and there’s nothing that can be termed as being over-the-top. The new City is reasonably equipped with features, and even the base variant offers a very healthy equipment list. What’s more, it’s even reasonably priced. The Honda City has always been a car that appeals to a wide range of buyers of all age groups and classes, and the new model is no exception.
But if you look past its understated design, what you’ll find is a new high-tech twin-cam petrol engine, which not only offers comfortable driveability and efficiency but also addictive performance. While the engine seems perfectly fine at low speeds, it’s only when you push it to the higher end of the rev band that it becomes a different animal altogether and delivers incredible performance all the way to the redline.
The powerband is extremely wide, which makes it great fun on the road. But on the track, the short-throw gear lever can keep the engine near the red-line for an incredibly fun ride. When you push it, though, you’re definitely left wanting for wider and grippier tyres. But, that apart, on the road it’s near-perfect – it dismisses road undulations effectively. Also, these skinny tyres certainly do help with fuel economy as well.
The City diesel, meanwhile, is a perfect car for those who cover long distances. Honda’s i-DTEC diesel engine remains untouched in this new model, and it continues to offer incredible fuel efficiency as always – it can realistically deliver over 20km/l, making it one of the most fuel-efficient cars in India. The only let down is the high NVH from its all-aluminium powertrain. That aside, the City diesel is now quite effortless to drive, with a light clutch pedal.
While the new City may not be ground-breaking, it does everything well and makes a great case for the resurgence of sedans. After all, the driving dynamics offered by the City simply can’t be matched by any crossover or SUV. And so, for the sheer inherent goodness offered by the new City – moulded into a recipe that works for virtually everyone – it makes it into our ‘Best of 2020’ list.