We drive the 2014 Honda City diesel and petrol mid-size sedan on Indian roads to see if its sets a new benchmark.
Also on offer with the petrol motor is an automatic transmission. This time though it is a CVT which has been built in-house at Honda. This transmission had surprisingly strong responsiveness at low speeds which will make light work of regular city duty. The rubberband effect that made CVTs infamous has been kept well in check too, but during full-bore acceleration runs or urgent overtaking manoeuvres, the engine revs get ahead of the road speed in true CVT fashion. The engine is quite noisy too, which leads us to wonder if Honda has stinted on underbody insulation. But what strengthens the case for the CVT is that it is claimed to be even more fuel efficient than the manual!
Some of the gains in efficiency have to be attributed to the new chassis too. Even though the City is slightly longer, taller and much stiffer than the outgoing car, it is roughly 45kg lighter. The wheelbase has also been stretched by 50mm. Although the Honda City continues to use MacPherson struts at the front and a twist beam at the rear, these have been extensively redesigned for the new platform. At low speeds, on broken roads, the City felt stiff-kneed and jiggly. However, once you get past 40-50kph, the suspension takes on a whole different character and masks broken roads with aplomb.
The Honda City proved to be quite adept over twisty sections too. Body movement was controlled and predictable. The narrow 175/65 R15 low-rolling-resistance tyres clung onto the tarmac with more tenacity than was expected. Strong brakes and a well-weighted and accurate steering only tempt you to drive for longer.
Step into the rear and it feels like the Honda City has been stretched by 50cm not 50mm. Knee room is ample, the seat base is generous and there’s lots of under-thigh support too. Dedicated air-conditioning vents for the rear passengers and two rear power outlets round off a sumptuous backseat.
Detailed photo gallery