Instantly after Honda Cars Philippines Inc (HCPI) unveiled the newest iteration of its long-running City model series (now on its fourth generation) at its Manila launch last May, I mistook it for a Civic; well, at least, for its new fascia, which looked sharper than the previous model with its redesigned grille and edgier-looking headlights with LED daytime running lights.
How does one improve on something that has already been welcomed with open arms by the Pinoy motoring public? Indeed, since this latest-generation City’s introduction in 2014, over 26,000 units have been sold, making this subcompact sedan HCPI’s bestseller.
The answer: Don’t fix what ain’t broke. Just add more goodies.
And that is what the new Honda City offers to existing and would-be owners. There’s a bit more for everyone in this City, and the best thing about it is that HCPI hasn’t added a single centavo to its previous pricing.
For an unchanged price tag of P913,000 for this variant, you get power folding side mirrors, those LED DRL headlamps, diamond-cut 16-inch rims, cruise control (yes, lazybones, a cruise control), a new seven-inch touchscreen audio system, a navigation system, a multi-view reverse camera – the works.
The new City is still powered by a 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder SOHC i-VTEC engine (120hp at 6,600rpm, 145Nm at 4,800rpm), with this variant’s power plant mated to an Earth Dreams Technology Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters. That’s why, even when I was running in Economy mode, the engine response was still immediate, satisfying. As far as fuel mileage goes, I squeezed out upwards of 16 km/liter in highway drives, and an average of 10 km/liter in the city. Not bad, considering there was plenty of idling time just tinkering with the controls and audio systems, browsing the navigation system, and so on.
I got the chance to drive the new City in a city unlike any other in the Philippines – in Baguio – where the weather is ever cool for humans, but the climbs and the twisties are torture for metal workhorses. Along with a group of fellow refreshed Honda compacts Jazz and Mobilio (more on this ride-and- drive in the next Carmudi Magazine Philippines issue), the City kept pace admirably. Though, as with any CVT system, high-revving and a slight lag in response could be felt during the more challenging climbs.
Apart from this, the new City VX Navi overflows with Honda’s ideals in subcompact mobility, generous with the driving and safety tech, ultimately giving its owners more than their money’s worth. HCPI has even sweetened the pot by extending the warranty for the 2018 City by another two years, or 40,000 kilometers (whichever comes first), under its Protect Plus Extended Warranty Program. Add that to the standard three-year warranty, and you get five years’ or 140,000 kilometers’ worth of peace of mind.
Positives: Cruise control, Sport mode, and paddle shifters optimize engine performance; same price as previous model
Negatives: High-revving CVT, and response lag in steep climbs