Last week, we were at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show to get a glimpse of the launch of the new generation Honda Fit; a model that our market knows as the Honda Jazz.
During the launch of the model, we couldn't help but wonder: what about its 4-door sedan brother, the City? Will we see an all new model soon?
While the Jazz has a respectable following in the Philippines, the Honda City is the far more important model for Honda given the long-established propensity of our market to gravitate towards sedans rather than hatchbacks. That's why the Honda City is their number one model for sales volume in the country, and is assembled (CKD) at their facility in Laguna.
We wanted to get an idea what the City will be like, and during a test drive session of some other Honda models at Twin Ring Motegi, we were able to have a few words with someone who's very well versed on the subject matter: Mr. Nobuyuku Aoyama. He's the president of Honda R&D Asia Pacific (HRAP), meaning his responsibility is overseeing the development of models for our market.
“You will not be disappointed with the all-new City when we launch it,” said HRAP president Nobuyuki Aoyama.
Now Aoyama wouldn't give any more information about the City, but needless to say we hope they go in a somewhat different direction with the design compared to the Fit/Jazz given the response from Honda fans and customers. We do expect, however, that the City will have a similar interior to the Fit which we found to be really nice after sitting in one at the show.
The head of HRAP withheld his answer when we asked if the model could have the 1.0-liter three-cylinder VTEC turbo engine, but he did smile when I asked. No guarantees on that one, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that the City does get that interesting engine. The Fit was also launched with a hybrid 1.5-liter powertrain, but it is unlikely that we'll see that in the City for the local market unless there are more attractive incentives to do so (i.e. tax breaks).
As for the timing of the premiere of the next generation City, Aoyama said that the wait isn't going to be that long. Our friends over at Headlightmag.com reported that the all-new City could premiere at the Thailand International Motor Expo next month, so that's a possibility. We could also venture a guess that Honda could hold the world premiere at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March 2020, but again, it's just conjecture.
Honda Cars Philippines executives are keeping very mum about the subject. While they are probably excited about selling an all-new City, it will take time for them to reorganize their assembly plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna to produce the new model and to do a sales run out of the existing units of current model.