CarBuyer.com.sg looks back at the small sedan for the snazzy urban commuter
Text: Lionel Kong
Now that the 2021 model year Honda City has begun rolling out of the showroom floor, is the previous-generation version starting to look and feel dated? We don’t think so, and in fact it’s still pretty good value for money when you consider the changes that have been made to the new car.
When the Honda City first appeared in Singapore it attracted comments from both ends of the spectrum. One side applauded the idea of another Thai-made, Japanese designed Honda, and the idea was to translate it to cheaper prices. The other side hated the idea of diluting the essential Japanese spirit of the product. Up until today, the argument continues.
Still there’s no denying that the 2014 Honda City, which has only just been phased out in Singapore, is a very sleekly designed car. The earlier 2002 version was a bit of a bulbous styling disaster, looking like a Honda Jazz hatchback with an ungainly boot grafted to the rear. This was rectified with the 2008 version, and the styling further consolidated by the 2014 car.
It’s a design that has aged well, and still looks sleek now. It’s powered by a rather simple 1.5-litre engine with 120 horsepower, but any idea of it being a small sports sedan should be put to rest. The continuously variable transmission is efficient but does no favours to the car’s highway acceleration and engine note, but is surprisingly good at lower speeds around the neighbourhood.
The Honda City is an easy drive with a cabin that feels much more upscale than the competition from the same time period, and even now you certainly won’t feel like you’re slumming it. It’s one of the first cars in this price segment to come with built-in GPS navigation and smartphone integration, though the swathes of hard plastic on the dashboard give away the fact that the City is built as a budget sedan. Still, if given a choice between GPS and a velvet dashboard most of us would pick the former.
There is traction control, but just two airbags so the very safety conscious among us might be hesitant to commit.
You also get keyless entry, push button starting, and a rear seat bench that splits 60:40 and folds forwards to extend the boot space. Here’s a win over the new, 2021 Honda CIty, which inexplicably has done away with the folding rear bench, significantly reducing carrying capacity.
Four adults will fit comfortably, five will be a bit of a squeeze but not too tightly, and it’s clearly a car designed for an easy time around the city with good all-round visibility. It’ll do fine for North-South Highway jaunts too, as long as you don’t overload the car with five adults and a boot full of luggage.
What to Look For:
You can find decent examples around the S$60,000 mark, and like practically every Honda made to date they tend to be trouble-free if well maintained and regularly serviced.
Later models will cost more of course, but may actually still be covered by Kah Motors’ five-year warranty so that’s worth a consideration.
The i-VTEC engine is a proper workhorse and will not fail prematurely as long as the correct, regulated engine oil is used, but like most Japanese cars we find that the first points of wear and tear that usually go unnoticed by the driver are the suspension dampers. This is because like human eyesight, they wear out slowly and drivers often just accept that their once accurate and nimble car is now a roly-poly warbling mess on the curves.
If the car simply doesn’t feel controlled through corners, it could be that the suspension parts are wearing out and from our experience this starts to feel obvious around the fifth year of car ownership. You can keep driving a car with worn dampers, but it seriously compromises the car’s handling ability.
The City is a very hard wearing car, thanks paradoxically to the use of hard plastics on some of the high traffic touch points in the cabin. If the interior looks all right and in good shape, then it most likely is.
2014 Honda City
|Engine||1497cc, in-line 4|
|Power||120hp at 6600rpm|
|Torque||145Nm at 4600rpm|
|Years Produced||2014 – 2020|