If there's one surprising thing that I've learned in a decade of testing, driving, and reviewing cars, more often than not, the best of a model line is the mid-range variant. Of course all the fancy features are found in the top-of-the-line models for a price while the base models often seem quite bare but are far more affordable. The mid-grade version, however, offers the best of both.
Perhaps such is the case for the Honda City E Limited Edition, a variant that finds itself smack in the middle of the five primary variants of the City model range without counting the other variants with different body kits and accessory packages.
As the mid-grade of the range, the City Limited exhibits the same style of the model that has been Honda's best seller of late. The wedge front, the crisp lines, the raised rear deck all combine to create a stylish B-car that, quite frankly, can almost compete as a C-car.
As we know, the City is not new, with this generation launched in 2014. Still, despite the almost 3 year tenure, the design is still very much fresh and modern. I like how reserved Honda was with the City Limited, especially in the way they toned down all the chrome. Personally I'm not a fan of it, and so I liked the color-keyed (body color) door handles, among others; it just makes for a cleaner look. Being a Limited model, this one gets a few neat accessories like the window visors, the daylight running LEDs on the foglamps, and, of course, the Limited badge on the trunk.
Inside, as expected, isn't as high-end as the City VX+ or even the VX. The dash is clean, but lacks the pizzazz of the TOTL versions such as the gloss black panel, the leather seats, the touch screen audio in favor of a 2-DIN Kenwood audio unit with Bluetooth and USB, and the touch-sensitive climate control panel for a standard set of A/C controls. No matter, as frankly I wasn't that big of a fan of the touch panel; I always kept activating something unintentionally.
Still, it's a nice place to be in. There's plenty of space to go around, and the seats are very comfortable on long drives as they are in traffic. Rear legroom is also quite good, and the visibility from the back too. They've omitted the two 12-volt sockets for the rear passengers, but that's not much of a big deal. They didn't omit any of the power features either, meaning we still get power windows, mirrors and steering. ABS and EBD are still standard, as are the dual front airbags.
Unlike previous generations, the entire City model range is all powered by the L15Z1. The 1.5-liter engine has 4 cylinders and 16-valves being actuated by a single camshaft. Official performance quotes its output at 120 PS and torque at 145 Nm. The figures are not really noteworthy, but they're decent, and matched with a continuously variable transmission.
We can talk about how well it handles on fast roads (it's quite good) and how fast it can go on the highway, but where the City really excels is as a daily driver. It's easy to maneuver around the, uh, city, it's easy to park, and it's very comfortable all around, especially in traffic. The CVT is smooth, and manages the transfer of power to the road very well. And that A/C? Often I found myself having to turn it down; it's quite cold, meaning hot summer days shouldn't be a problem.
The rear seats don't fold to take on long cargo, but at 516 liters, there's plenty of bootspace for bags, equipment and groceries as well. But perhaps one of the beacons of the City is the fuel economy: 8.7 kilometers to a liter in urban driving (25 km/h average) and 13.0 km/l on the highway at an average speed of 89 km/h.
The best part about the Honda City Limited Edition is its price point because, at PhP 829,000, it's definitely great value. To put that in perspective, the comparably-specced Toyota Vios, the 1.5G with a CVT, is already at PhP 902,000. The pricing, the good list of features, together with the reduced maintenance requirements (6 months or 10,000 kilometers) and reduced downtime, makes the City, in my opinion, quite a bargain and definitely the best balance of the breed.