The City was originally developed as Honda’s ‘Asian Car’, a new model which replaced the Civic at the entry level to the brand. The Civic had that position in earlier years but had grown in size and price, pushing it above ‘entry-level’.
So Honda came out with a new model that was lower-priced and focussed particularly on the ASEAN market which was growing rapidly in the 1990s. The first generation was launched in 1995 and arrived in Malaysia during the second half of the decade. While Toyota also had an ‘Asian Car’ with the Soluna (later called Vios), it did not bring that model into Malaysia so Honda got a head-start in the new entry-level game.
Since that time, the City has become Honda’s bestselling model in Malaysia and its sales success was so impressive that Honda has included this country in product development of the City for the past three generations.
The current generation is the fifth one which was launched in October 2020. Despite it being a gloomy period (the COVID-19 pandemic was on, remember?), there was still enthusiasm in the market and in just the first month, some 9,000 orders were received.
As Honda Malaysia had predicted, the new City was a game-changer with significant upgrades in almost every area. Notably, it was also the first time that the model was available with a powertrain with e:HEV technology, the name Honda gives to its hybrid technology.
Since it introduced its first hybrid model (the Insight) and the late 1990s, it had been working hard to bring the cost of hybrid parts down. That it could be used with the City indicated that it has achieved that objective, enabling electrification to be available in the lower end of the market.
The City remains popular in its segment but since being launched, rivals have also improved. Some have changed generations as well. So, it’s time for an update again and along with the kaizen spirit, the product has been improved and its value for money proposition enhanced.
5 variants, as before
There are five variants as before but this time, there are two RS variants. The original one was available only with the e:HEV powertrain and while there were many people who liked what the RS had, the price was a slight deterrent.
Taking this feedback into consideration, Honda Malaysia has decided to offer another RS variant – but with the 1.5-litre petrol engine similar to the S, E and V variants. It has dropped the V variant which had Honda SENSING (which was only with the RS) and put the new RS variant in its place.
Without the e:HEV powertrain, the price is RM12,000 less which puts the RM99,900 RS just below the RM100,000 level which may prove to be good psychologically.
Tiny difference between the RS models
Other than the powertrain, the RS has the same equipment list as the RS e:HEV – except for one tiny omission. A close look at the Honda SENSING systems will show that the RS does not have the Low Speed Follow (LSF) that is a new system along with Lead Car Departure Notification (LCDN). All variants have Honda SENSING now but only the RS e:HEV has LSF.
What is LSF? It’s an added capability to the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system which allows the ACC to remain active even down to standstill, and resume operating when the car ahead starts moving again.
Previously, the ACC would disengage below a certain speed. With LSF, it is possible to travel for long distances almost autonomously as the car will slow down, stop when necessary and start moving again without the driver having to do anything except watch and make steering adjustment when necessary.
As for LCDN, that’s just something to alert the driver when the car ahead has started moving when the traffic light has gone green. Some people don’t pay attention and upset others behind as well as waste precious seconds moving off.
Powertrains same as before
There are no changes to the powertrains though there might be small internal improvements here and there. The 2-motor system works with the 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC using an intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system. While the power output of 109 ps is modest, the torque is extraordinary at 253 Nm… more than larger engines and generated up to 3,000 rpm.
The 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with DOHC and a 16-valve cylinder head is also the same as before and powered the RS as well as the other three variants. This engine too has an impressive output (for its displacement) of 121 ps/145 Nm.
The RS e:HEV uses an electronic CVT while the other variants use a conventional CVT. All of them come with paddles on the steering wheel for manually selecting the virtual gears, if preferred.
In other respects, the safety systems are the same as before for the respective versions, with the S and E variants getting slightly less.
The V and two RS variants get the LaneWatch system as standard. This excellent feature, which uses a small camera on the left door mirror, provides the driver with a real-time image of the blind spot along that side of the car. It is active when the left signal is activated (or can be manually activated) and gives clear imagery even at night.
Slightly longer bodywork
As for the other aspects of the updated City, the bodywork is very slightly longer due to the new front and rear bumpers. The two RS variants also get s a new Honeycomb Front Grille and lower grille with the ‘RS’ badge subtly revised. The side skirting is also changed, along with the rear diffuser.
Upgraded interior features
Interior features and equipment are generally unchanged but there is some upgrading. Except for the S variant, all other variants get 8 s
peakers, a new interface on the centre touchscreen display, enhanced Multi-Angle Rear View Camera and new Type C USB port at the rear.
For those who value Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, this is available with all versions except the City S, with only the RS versions having wireless convenience. As before, there are rear air-conditioning vents and the top 4 versions have an automatic air-conditioning system.
Honda CONNECT available as option
Honda CONNECT, the telematics system which provides security as well as a connection to Honda, is standard for the two RS versions. The RS e:HEV was the first model in Honda Malaysia’s range to offer Honda CONNECT which is available only in a small number of markets.
Now, it is also available for owners of the other variants for an extra RM1,500. This is a special offer available only until January 31, 2024 (while stocks last).
Features which are available with Honda CONNECT include Remote Control, Collisions Detection, Geo-Fencing (being informed when the car leaves a designated area), car location, security alert, service reminders and emergency calls.
To locate an authorised dealer to know more about the new City and to view or test-drive, visit www.honda.com.my.