There’s no doubt that the Honda City is one of the most beloved sedans in the country. The car has an aspirational value not only amongst the middle-class, but also the youth. In a way, we can say that Honda City is the face of the brand in India (like Santro for Hyundai and Alto for Maruti). This year, Honda City completes 20 years in India and I was privileged to test and pose with the current model which is taking over the streets in India.
If we take a look back, the first ever Honda City rolled off the assembly lines in early 1998 and was launched that year to an emerging middle class in India that was desperate for an affordable luxury car. It was essentially the perfect recipe for a brand building exercise. A popular Japanese brand introduced into a country that was already in awe of Japanese reliability and performance having had a range of Maruti Suzuki cars for the last decade and a half was prone to succeed. The City offered fantastic performance, possibly one of the best engines India has ever seen and a whole host of features in the top of the line variant. Imagine getting into a car in the late 90s and discovering electrically adjustable mirrors!
The Honda City is possibly one of those few cars that formed a ‘goal’ for most middle class Indian families to work towards. Although it was relatively affordable, it was still scene as a sign of wealth and prosperity in the middle class – far more than the likes of an equally expensive product from other Indian or foreign manufacturers. And it was always the safe choice that was well engineered, fuel efficient and offered a good overall package.
With so many models and changes, City has evolved in lot of good ways. If we look at the current model, the changes that the new Honda City gets over the previous iteration aren’t very dramatic. The profile that gets the maximum changes is the front. It gets all-LED headlights, similar to that of the Honda Accord Hybrid, making it one of the smartest-looking options in the segment. Another best-in-class feature are the DRLs, which are standard across the range. The top-of-the-line trim also gets LED fog lamps. The grille design has been tweaked with a sleeker chrome bar while the fog lamp housing too has been changed. The side retains the profiles and the contours – seen on the previous model – but gets new 16-inch diamond-cut alloys instead of 15 inches. The rear also gets LED lights. The bumper too has gone through a style revision, and one can see additional cuts and creases, making it reminiscent of the aero kit that was offered on the previous Honda City.
If we look at the interiors, Honda has tried to make it more upmarket with the use of soft-touch leather on the dashboard. The piano black-finished central console too has got a design revision. In the previous model, the smaller 5-inch infotainment screen and the oddly positioned knobs made the entire arrangement look clustered. In the new City, however, Honda is offering a 6.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Additionally, it gets an all-new interface that is more responsive and easier to use than the previous unit. Browsing through the different options has got a lot better. The infotainment system also gets an on-board memory of a 1.5GB, another first in the segment. Considering the fact that the 2017 Honda City retains the overall dimensions of the previous model, the cabin space remains unchanged. While the changes aren’t much, the modern infotainment system, soft-touch leather and the electric sunroof have made the City feel more feature-rich than before.
With the successful run of 20 years, I am sure there will be much more to look forward to from Honda City. I do not have to give my reviews to this beautiful piece of technology and style but what I have seen, heard and I tried, it’s a perfect amalgamation of beauty and a beast. Dressing up in my favorite attire in blue with hints of brown, I surely complemented the look of this car. Hope you guys enjoy reading this one, which is a bit different from rest of my posts. I wish Honda city a very happy 2018 with 20 years in India. I will see you guys soon, till then dress up and drive safe
Blazer and Shirt- Zara
Photography by Vidit Jain