The outgoing Honda City is a relatively rare sight on our roads. Despite the three-box sedan version of the Jazz hatches’ reputation as a surprisingly roomy light sedan, Honda sold fewer than one City for every ten Jazzes over 2012/13.
However, the second-generation model boasts an all-new, even roomier body, fresh multimedia tech and improved fuel efficiency. All told, it looks set to entice quite a few more Australians to the City fold.
Sharing much of its design with the third-generation Jazz hatch due in July, the new model is 45mm longer overall, with a 50mm longer wheelbase that has helped to add 60mm in rear legroom along with headroom and shoulder room gains. The back seat offers plenty of room for two adults of average height, and the increased legroom would shame some mid-size models.
Explore the 2014 Honda City range
The previous model’s segment-busting 506-litre cargo space has also been stretched to a Ford Falcon-trumping 536-litres VDA, creating room for four large golf bags. The back seat folds 60/40, but the seat base continues to be fixed and there’s a steel spacesaver spare wheel under the boot floor.
The new City sedan continues with the same VTi and VTi-L trim levels as its predecessor, but the $15,990 entry manual VTi and $17,990 VTi automatic have dropped by $500. The auto-only VTi-L’s $21,390 list price has risen by $900.
The City is second only to the new Odyssey people mover to offer Honda’s Display Audio touchscreen interface, with the Bluetooth audio and phone system standard on all City variants. Such systems are rare at this price point, but are becoming a big wishlist item as people seek constant connectivity for their smartphones.
When connected to an iPhone 5 via an HDMI cable, the system can mirror the iPhone’s display along with swipe and scroll interactivity.
A selection of third-party apps can also be mirrored, including the $49.99 HondaLink satnav app that can be downloaded from iTunes – enabling three years of satnav coverage.
The Display Audio system uses a seven inch touchscreen display on both variants, and includes a three-view (normal, wide and birds-eye) reversing camera on all variants. Rear parking sensors are a dealer-fit option though, and cost $495 fitted.
Along with Display Audio, VTi models come equipped with cruise control, multifunction steering wheel, four speaker audio, rake and reach steering adjustment, eight cupholders and 15 inch steel wheels with plastic wheel covers.
The VTi-L adds a leather wheel and gearknob, climate control, paddle shifters, push-button start, eight-speaker audio, and extra pair of 12V outlets for the back seat, front foglights and 16 inch alloy wheels.
The new City sees the return of a CVT auto to Honda’s mainstream light car lineup, with only the Hybrid version of the existing Jazz using the efficiency-boosting design. The rest of the auto Jazz and City lineups have used a five speed torque converter unit after the CVT-equipped (2002-08) first-generation Jazz lineup, and the new third-generation Jazz will also use the CVT for auto variants when it arrives in July.
The new CVT helps the official combined fuel consumption drop to 5.7L/100km (from 6.6L/100km) for automatic variants, while the five speed manual available in the price-leading VTi is rated at 5.8L/100km (down from 6.3L/100km) combined, despite packing one less ratio than some rivals.
Also contributing to the lower consumption figures is the attention paid to internal friction and rotational mass reduction for the City’s 1.5-litre petrol four. Outputs remain at the same 88kW/145Nm as previously, but max torque now arrives 200rpm earlier at 4600rpm.
All City variants come with front, side and full-length curtain airbags, plus ABS, EBD, brake-assist, plus stability and traction control. Honda says the new model has been designed to achieve the five star safety rating of its forebear, and will be tested by ANCAP in the coming months.
There’s a feeling of familiarity about the new City, which is no surprise considering most mechanicals aside from the new CVT have been revised rather than renewed. That’s hardly condemnation though, as the outgoing City and still-current Jazz remain competent entries the light vehicle segment, and the new City signifies a further refinement of this.
We’ve only managed to drive the CVT auto version for now, but the new unit works well for day-to day duties, with a broad ratio range enabling brisk off the mark performance, and relaxed highway cruising.
As with all CVT autos, the new City unit does buzz if heavy throttle is held for extended periods, but it’s otherwise unintrusive, and makes good use of the 1.5-litre’s 88kW/145Nm outputs.
The City offers composed handling at anything up to antisocial speeds, with plenty of grip from the low-rolling resistance tyres and the revised electric steering offers more feedback than many rivals of a similar price.
The tall rear bulkhead does limit rear visibility, but this is a small tradeoff for such a large boot, and is largely overcome by the sizeable reversing camera display.
The new Honda City is an honest little machine, with clever packaging and up to the minute multimedia tech. If you need to cart four adults and have limited parking space or ability, and need to carry four golf bags at the same time, the new City would be hard to look past.