Text: Jude Morte / Photos: Brent Co, Jude Morte | posted January 08, 2009 00:00
Subcompact shadow dweller no more
Honda felt that its entry level vehicle should not be treated as the proverbial runt of the litter, and recently launched the 2009 version of the City at the Glorietta Activity Center. According to Honda Cars Philippines, Inc., the new City is now considered as a segment breaker due to its larger dimensions (a five millimeter increase both in length and width), an all new exterior reminiscent of certain compact cars and executive cars, plus performance levels and features normally found in the aforementioned vehicles.
The outside design – particularly the front end - is based on the silhouette of an arrow's front end, or the outline of an archer with a drawn bow. This design inspiration, according to Honda Research and Development Co. Ltd. chief engineer (and 2009 Honda City large project leader) Takeshi Nakamura, was taken from one movie – featuring archers in an ancient Greece setting - that he was watching in 2005 or 2006. He noted the said design cue and used that as the springboard for the overall outline of the new City. The result is a bodyshape exuding dynamic tension, and a sleekness reminiscent of its Civic and Jazz sibling. Toss in refinement (via a faux Accord front grille), a short, sleek rear deck and tailights that resemble the E90 BMW 3-Series and you have a lasting, imposing and ambitious viewing impression from all sides.
The interior conveys a theme of spaciousness, much like the rest of the brands in the Honda lineup. The cabin has premium brand vehicle-level seating for four (or for five, if the fifth fellow is thin and less than five feet four inches), and storage bins galore for items of nearly shapes and sizes. The air conditioning system has vents on the rear floor for cooling in all areas. The audio entertainment is much improved, thanks to an iPod/external MP3 player jack (USB/AUX ports) and a four-speaker, 45-watt (with amplifier) setup for listening pleasure. The seats are contoured to the human spine (along with its occasional flexes), and wrapped in comfortable cloth fabric for a relaxed feel, even after long hours on the road.
As with any Honda vehicle, performance thrills are at par with the interior enjoyment. Customers get to choose between 1.3L and 1.5L engines (both equipped with i-VTEC), and between stick shifts and slushboxes. The former performance parts are tuned for a wide range of driving conditions (not just for urban driving), with the slushboxes now featuring five forward gears. The 1.3L engine now puts out 99 hp, while the 1.5L now bumps the horsepower figure to 118. Should you wish to get some additional spirited driving out of your 1.5L a/t City, the aforementioned model now comes with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Plus, the suspension now totes an all new geometry, tuned more for stability and comfort than high velocity road-holding.
Taking cue from Honda's fundamental value of emissions reduction, the City is also committed in minimizing carbon footprint on the air that people breathe and ensuring safety for every occupant. The new City conforms with EURO IV emission standards, and totes a sturdy G-CON body structure (for enveloping occupants in case of an accident), ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. For 1.5 E and 1.3 S variants, dual airbags come standard. If you're itching to buy a brand new Honda City, the brand comes in four variants - 1.3L A m/t (P676,000), 1.3L S m/t (P716,000), 1.3L S a/t (P756,000), and 1.5L E a/t (P806,000). The new City comes in the following colors – Polished Metal (1.5L only), Crystal Black, Habanero Red, Bold Beige, Bluish Silver (1.3L S and 1.3L A only) and Alabaster Silver (1.3L S and 1.3L A only).
The new City's growth spurt, features, engine and suspension now make it at par (or even better) than its four door (plus trunk) subcompact competition. In fact the new City makes itself a potential primary choice in the subcompact segment, no longer relegated to the sidelines.