Ever since Honda came to India, the City has been its most consistent performer. However, the petrol-price-bombs of 2011 shook up the City’s standing quite severely and newer competition pushed it up against the wall. However, Honda has come back all guns blazing with its all-new City. Can it sit on top of the growing mid-size heap once more?
Honda’s engineering brilliance has been embodied by its i-VTEC engines, but this time around, the company is counting on its diesel engine to script the next chapter of its success story in India. The diesel motor in question is the 1.5-litre i-DTEC that debuted in the Amaze, and the engine itself has been carried over unchanged to the City. The gearbox too is shared with the smaller saloon, and the first five gears are identical, but a new sixth gear has been added specifically for the Honda City. Even though the City is roughly 45kg lighter than the previous-generation car, it is still 90kg heavier than the Amaze, so a shorter ratio is used for the final drive to extract a bit more zing from the 20.4kgm of torque. Despite that, Honda claims that the new City i-DTEC will be the most fuel-efficient car in the country, with a claimed fuel efficiency of 26kpl! We can’t wait to put it through our test cycle in Mumbai to see it for ourselves.
The good news is that the 1.5-litre i-VTEC motor has been carried over virtually unchanged from the previous-generation car. So you have 116bhp of power and 14.8kgm of torque being developed in the same free-revving manner as before. However, light tweaks to the intake and i-VTEC system have improved performance at low speeds. The petrol motor proved to be quite flexible, ambling along happily at 20kph in fourth gear, never hesitating to step forward when prodded. As the revs climbed it proved to be as thrilling to drive as ever.
On our first drive in Jaipur, it was evident that like in the Amaze, there is hardly any turbo lag, and the flat torque curve is immediately apparent. This diesel engine’s responsiveness even under 2,000rpm was very handy in the cut and thrust of Jaipur’s traffic. Once past the 2,000rpm mark, the motor pulls cleanly to over 3,600rpm, making it hassle-free to drive in the city and outside it. Revving it to its 4,500rpm redline offered little advantage, although it did highlight this motor’s sore point, the engine noise. Since the abundance of engine noise had been highlighted in the Amaze, better sound insulation was almost taken for granted in the Honda City diesel. Sadly, the coarse engine rumble is quite audible in the cabin. Despite this foible, the diesel is sure to hog a big chunk of the sales. True Honda fans though will no doubt be keen to know more about the petrol.
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