Normally when we get a car for a review, we'll only have a couple of days with it; a week, tops. The reason is that a manufacturer's test cars are shared commodities; sometimes they're used for events, sometimes for public test drives, and often used by other members of the press.
We wanted to try something different this time though. We wanted to test a car for a much longer period to see how reliable it is, how it is to live with, run on a daily basis, and even maintain.
That's what brought us back to this car: it's a 2018 Honda City VX+ Navi. After putting in a couple thousand kilometers and a couple of months on the daily drive, I'll tell you now that there isn't anything to report at all. And that's a very good thing.
The City we're driving is the last facelift of the model that debuted just over two years ago. The overall look of this City is really of an upscaled and slightly upsized subcompact; if we can actually still call it a subcompact.
Now this isn't my first outing with this particular car; the first time I drove it, this City was fresh from the Honda factory in Santa Rosa, Laguna where it was assembled. It has less than a thousand kilometers nor did it have license plates, but that's quite normal.
Fast forward a bit, and it's got significantly more mileage on the clock (about 12,000 kilometers) when I got it for this longer term review, and the scars to go with it. The City had a quite a few scrapes, scratches, and dents. There was even a dent on the hood which appears to have been from a rock or other falling object. The wheels have been dinged up, and the tires are a little worn on some bits. This car has been living the hard knock life.
Press cars are not primadonnas, unfortunately. They change hands several times each month, and each driver has very different ways of treating them. Some take care of the press cars as if they were their own, some treat them as they were in a not-my-car-club, driving them like they're race cars on the road.
So the first thing I did with the car is take it to a nearby service station (in this case, a Servitek) just to lift up the car just for a visual inspection. Nothing major to report, apart from some scrapes on the underside of the bumper; the City, I would learn, has a fairly long front overhang that tends to scrape when you try to get into a roadside parking slot with a gutter in front of it like you would in Quezon City.
I was actually expecting more issues when I took a peek underneath, but no; this City has held up fairly well despite the many whacks, bumps, and scrapes on the underside. There doesn't seem to be any issues with the under chassis, so that's good. The tires are alright, and were rotated for good measure. And just to give the City a little TLC for this long term drive, I decided on a simple hydrophobic wax job to restore the lost luster of that paint.
Inside, the City has held up well too. The leather still looks fairly fresh, and the plastics and other materials have some minor wear, but little in the form of tear. The City actually aged very very well considering its hard and frequent use.
Everything functions as they should. There were no issues with the electronics like the keyfob, the climate control system, the gauges or others. I even checked the anti-lock brakes for function on a closed course, just to be sure. They worked, same with the stability control. The airbags, well, I won't test those.
The back seat is still a nice and spacious place to be; it's easily one of the best in the class. The only thing missing there is a rear blower for the A/C like you would find in an Almera. But hey, at least this one has two 12-volt sockets in the back so the guys there can charge their phones or tablets. What I did notice was that rear passengers can see the bare metal of the front brackets bolted to the floor, and there is a little bit of superficial rust on them. I consulted my old photographs of the same car from before, and it seems the covers for those brackets have vanished.
There was also a significant change with the trunk space of this City VX+. Two years ago, it was fresh; but now it's clearly had to bear a lot more weight and experienced a bit more wear. The trunk board that holds up the carpet is broken; maybe one of the earlier users has overloaded it. The board was made of some kind of MDF-like material; I would have wanted to make a replacement out of plywood, but I didn't have any lying around at the time.
The engine of this City is the 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC, and it's now much dustier compared to before. It's matched with a CVT that has paddle shifters for those that like to select their own gears, or ratios in this case; this CVT has no gears in the classic gearbox sense. When new, the engine makes 120 PS and 148 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm, and I was actually eager to see if it still feels as good to drive as when it was new.
On a daily commute, I wasn't disappointed. Yes, when it was new, I remember this car being tighter to drive meaning there was a little less play in the steering and the throttle response was slightly better, but all in all, it's not too bad. More importantly, despite its age and undoubtedly harder-than-normal use over the years, the City has fared very well. Power was still good, and torque was still alright.
At higher speeds there were no undue noises, creaks, or suspension knock (AKA: kalampag). The only issue was fairly minor: the alignment of the wheels. When driving in a straight line, the City's steering was off center by about 3 to 5 degrees. Nothing major, but something needs alignment somewhere.
Fuel economy, thankfully, has stayed consistent with my last review. In today's heavier traffic conditions in the metro, the City's powertrain has maintained an average 8.5 kilometers to a liter (20 km/h average speed). At lower speeds and heavier traffic, it dips down a bit to 8.0, but that's not all too bad either. On the highway I was getting 12.8 km/l at 88 km/h average speeds.
That would be the story of the City for the 4 months and the 3000 kilometers I had it for in my garage. There were no issues with the engine; it proved to be reliable and no gremlins showed themselves that would have prompted me to visit a dealership for unscheduled servicing. There were no instances that the battery became flat, nor were there problems with hard starting even after the several times I parked it at the airport for about 4 to 5 days each during my travels. There were no problems with the audio system, the Bluetooth, the USB, the rear view camera. The navigation system worked too, but we used Waze most of the time with the screen mirroring function.
There were no undue issues with the suspension or the steering apart from the alignment issue which, interestingly enough, never got worse. There were no issues with the Bridgestone Turanza tires either; the wear was very even, and there were no problems with wobble despite their fairly advanced age and wear. I didn't even get a flat tire.
All we had to do was drive it, fuel it, wash it, use it, enjoy it. Back then, this City VX+ Navi was priced at PhP 1,003,000. Today, the price has hiked up to PhP 1,068,000, but it's very much a solid offering in the very competitive subcompact car market. More importantly, there was nothing strange or odd to report from the 2018 (well, late 2017) Honda City VX+ Navi.
And like I said, that's a very good thing.