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2012 Honda City VTi-L review

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    The overall performance was disappointing and points to the reason behind the dwindling sales.

Rebeccah Elley road tests and reviews the new Honda City VTi-L with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

Honda City VTi-L 3

The City was designed to meet consumer demand for a fuel efficient small car in Australia but has struggled in the sales department over its four years here.

The third generation City first arrived down under in February 2009 and was received moderately by Aussie buyers with 3400 sales for the year. Sales have declined yearly dropping by over half to 1584 in 2011.

This year Honda attempted to gain ground by releasing the fifth generation with a new look and a $500 price drop. It’s up against some high sales performers such as the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i20, Holden Barina and Mazda2.

But small sedan buyers still aren’t impressed, with only a dismal 517 sold so far this year -- with only three months to go until the New Year -- compared to the top seller Yaris’ 5465 sales.

VALUE

The price has been reduced to $18,490 manual ($20,490 auto) for the base model VTi. The top spec VTi-L tested here starts at $22,990 and is only available in a five speed auto.

It’s kitted with features like 12V auxiliary sockets, CD player, four speaker stereo, iPod and MP3 connectivity, speed dependant volume stereo, remoteless central locking, leather steering wheel, steering wheel controls, electric power steering and fog lamps.

TECHNOLOGY

The City is based on the Jazz platform and carries the same 1.5 litre four cylinder engine with 88kW of power and 135Nm of torque. The VTi-L has a five speed automatic transmission driven through the front wheels. And the official combined fuel economy is 6.6L/100Km but we got 8.0L/100km.

DESIGN

The City has often been nicknamed the “Jazz with a boot” with a spacious 506 litre capacity but there’s more to the design than that. Honda says the City has received a number of new features and styling, such as a new chrome grille and redesigned front and rear bumpers.

There’s also a new micro antenna that we found too large on the rear of the small car. However, the overall exterior look of the City is attractive and the silver 16 inch alloy wheels match the exterior chrome detailing well.

The interior styling gets shiny “aluminium-look” panels/trims and chrome audio and climate controls. The speedometer is blue and there is light blue stitching on the seats. But the seat upholstery picks up a lot of hair, so if you have a pet you’ll probably have to invest in some seat covers. The inside is spacious enough for five adults and would suit a small family well in the city.

SAFETY

It has a five star ANCAP crash rating with front, side and curtain airbags, ABS technology, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, engine immobiliser, fog lamps and impact absorbing body coloured bumpers.

DRIVING

As the name suggests the City is made for city driving. It’s compact enough to manoeuvre through tight laneways, turn sharp corners with ease and fit into tiny parking spots around the CBD.

But the overall performance was disappointing and points to the reason behind the dwindling sales. From the first turn of the key the engine was noisy and only increased at higher speeds. The acceleration was poor and hill climbs were sluggish as the 1.5 litre engine struggled to drive the 1140kg weight.

We also took the small sedan onto a freeway to test the cruise control. While it held the 110km speed well, the rev-counter flew beyond four thousand and the engine revved loudly, forcing us to drop the speed. The lack of a sixth gear also contributed to the problem, as the extra gear would have reduced the revs and countered the problem.

VERDICT

The City isn’t a great drive but it’s practical for anyone living in the city. So if you’re looking for a small sedan that’s small enough to navigate city streets but big enough deal with your daily shopping and errands then the City is worth a look.

Honda City VTi-L

Price: from $22,990
Warranty: 3 years 100,000km
Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder, 88kW/145Nm
Transmission: 5-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.6L/100Km, CO2 156g/km

RIVALS


Toyota Yaris YRX

Price: from $21,790
Engine: 1.5 Litre 4 Cylinder, 80kW/141Nm
Transmission: 4-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.7L/100Km

 

Toyota Yaris YRX - see other Toyota Yaris YRX verdicts

 


Hyundai i20 Elite

Price: from $19,590
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cylinder, 73.5kW/136Nm
Transmission: 4-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 5.9L/100Km

 

Hyundai i20 - see other Hyundai i20 verdicts


 

Comments on this story

Displaying 2 of 2 comments

  • The roar from the engine at high RPMs is the iVTec technology kicking in. It boosts power tremendously. This article seems to be unaware about the engine design.

    Biju A Nair of Bangalore Posted on 01 December 2012 7:07pm
  • Good review but are there really no cheap sedans to compare this one with? The hatches chosen are not really relevant.

    Cernat of Sunshine Coast Posted on 20 November 2012 10:29pm

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