Honda’s ever-popular mid-size sedan has completed 20 years in India. It’s a model that has always formed the bedrock of the company’s sales in India. So popular is the car in our market that sales in India account for 25 percent of the City’s global sales. From its introduction in 1998 to the present day, the Honda City has always enjoyed a modicum of success.
The City is in its fourth generation now, and each one of these four generations has enjoyed its run in the Indian market.
- First Generation (1998): The first-gen Honda City marked the Japanese carmaker’s India entry. It was introduced with 1.3- and 1.5-litre petrol engine options and soon became a cult car, especially after the introduction of VTEC technology in 2000. Still a tuner’s favourite, the first-gen City was India’s introduction to some Honda petrol engine magic.
- Second Generation (2003): Referred to as the ‘Dolphin’ City in car enthusiast circles, the second-gen Honda City was a massive departure from its predecessor in terms of styling and driving dynamics. The bulbous shape took time getting used to and the 77hp engine just didn’t deliver the thrills that petrolheads had come to expect from the City brand. However, this was a car all about practicality, and it even debuted the CVT gearbox in India. Still, it is the least loved of the Citys.
- Third Generation (2008): The third-gen City marked a return to form for Honda and the City. Sleek looks, a rev-happy VTEC engine and a spacious cabin, this City seemed to have it all. The only chink in its armour was the lack of a diesel engine option, something that would cost the City big; especially at a time when oil-burners saw a sudden spike in demand. This version of the City was also the first to come with ABS and dual airbags as standard and was also the first car in its class to come with a sunroof.
- Fourth Generation (2014): The fourth generation of the Honda City made its world premiere in India – a nod to how important India is in the City’s global scheme of things. Larger, more spacious and far better-equipped than any of its predecessors, this City also had another trick up its sleeve – a diesel engine. Also on offer is an ultra-efficient CVT gearbox for the petrol engine version. It is pricey by segment standards but that’s not stopped its popularity in the three years it’s been on sale. This version is the best-selling City to date, having sold over 2,76,000 units so far.
Over the four generations it’s been on sale, the City has racked up sales of over 7 lakh units in India alone. The next-gen City comes to our market in 2020 and is part of Honda’s plan to launch six new products in India over the next three years.
The Honda City has grown in popularity over its generations, evident in the rise in its sales numbers:
First Generation (1998-2003)
Second Generation (2003-2008)
Third Generation (2008-2013)
Fourth Generation (2014-present)