New fifth-gen small sedan from Honda looks to provide solid value, now comes in an RS model, pricing starts from S$89k with COE
There are now a large range of very value-for-money cars competing in the less-than-S$100k price bracket here in Singapore, but the power of a familiar name is strong, and that’s exactly the starting point for the new, fifth-gen Honda City small sedan.
Two variants are currently on sale here: The City 1.5 SV, which retails at S$88,999 with COE, and the sportier-looking RS model – the first RS model for a City – which retails for S$92,999 with COE. Both cars are powered by a 1.5-litre engine.
If you want to see the car in the flesh, the SV model will be on display at Honda Ubi, and the RS model at Honda Alexandra.
As first reported in our bumper New Cars of 2020 story, the Honda City is now larger than the preceding model – it’s longer, lower and wider at 4,553mm long (up 111mm), 1,748mm wide (up 54mm), and 1,467mm tall (less 10mm). The wheelbase also stretches to 2,600mm, up from 2,589mm previous.
There’s an immediate, familiar resemblance to the Honda Civic – its big brother – and even the HR-V small SUV. The front end features Honda’s ‘Solid Wing Face’ with the LED DRLs wrapping the bottom, outer edges of the LED headlamp units. The latter have a similar ‘gilled’ design to the HR-V and facelifted Civic.
Besides the sharpened front end, Honda also says the figure line running from the headlights to the wrap-around taillights has a curvature inspired by Japanese katana swords, while the car’s nose is thicker (via a bulging bonnet) to ‘enhance strength and presence’.
Inside, Honda promises improved ergonomics – it says that visibility has been improved by reducing the profile of the instrument panel and optimising the driver’s seat and pedal position. The side mirror has been repositioned on the body to improve visibility.
One big bonus, and amongst the first we’ve seen on a compact car, is the infotainment system. Honda’s 7.0-inch Touchscreen Display Audio system is onboard, and not only has Bluetooth and USB connectivity, it also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Honda is claiming best-in-class rear legroom and knee clearance, and while we can’t verify that, it also says the City’s boot space of 519-litres is also class leading, and it is, when compared to the 504-litres of the Toyota Vios.
Face of a killer: This car is what has helped compact sedans fall out of favour
At the rear, legroom has been improved thanks to a smaller front seat design, while a 12-percent boost to airflow from the rear air-con outlet (a rarity in a compact car) should help end complaints from sweaty passengers.
The City is powered by a 1.5-litre inline four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine, which has the same capacity, output and torque as the unit powering the previous City 1.5, and is also mated to a CVT.
Fuel efficiency improves from 5.7L/100km to 5.6L/100km, with CO2 output dropping from 135g/km down to 128g/km, which is good enough for a VES B ‘neutral’ rating (no penalty, nor rebate).
Performance is improved over the outgoing model too – the 0-100km/h time goes from 11.0 seconds to 10.6 seconds (10.3 for the RS), and the top speed is now 196km/h (199km/h for the RS).
There’s no active safety features on the City, though they are a rarity in compact cars still. But it does have Honda’a G-Con platform, built with high-strength steel, and four airbags (six for the RS model), and a five-star Asean NCAP rating, though notably unlike the more strict Euro NCAP, the lack of active safety does not prevent a car from achieving the full five-star rating.
LED headlamps, the 7.0-inch infotainment system, steering wheel remote controls, keyless start and entry, cruise control, are all standard for the LX model. It also boasts Remote Engine Start, which is exactly what it sounds like, and we demonstrate that with the Honda Accord below.
The RS model adds the funkier styling: The Ignite Red Metallic paint option, piano black detailing on the mirrors and front end, and a carbon-fibre pattern lip spoiler. Inside, there’s red-stitched upholstery, paddle shifters, and sport pedals.
On paper it looks like an impressive feature set for a compact sedan. The compact sedan class has been decimated in recent years, with small SUVs encroaching and offering more headroom for only a slight premium – case in point, Honda’s uber-popular HR-V, which starts at S$5k more than the City.
With rivals now thin on the ground, and the only competition of note comes from Toyota’s Vios.
However, the City could turn things around: A similar fate has befallen the compact hatch category, though to a lesser extent, but Honda’s Jazz is still a popular choice.