The Honda City has been shiny for years now. The last time it had something dark upfront was in 2009 during the first iteration of the third-generation model, which is my favorite. It had a three-slab grille finished in gunmetal gray that gave it a really intimidating and timeless aesthetic. If you see one in mint condition today, it looks like it was just launched yesterday.
This is why I was looking forward to the new Honda City. Aside from its change in design, it now received the RS treatment for the top-of-the-line model. That means black accents all over the car, most obvious of which is the gloss black grille that flaunts the RS badge. Wait, what’s that? The lower trims still get chrome? Well…
In the metal
Seeing it in pictures, I initially thought that the new grille’s design in chrome would be less desirable than the RS. However, when this V-trim in Platinum White Pearl came into my place, my jaw dropped. It has this very executive demeanor that I can’t help but say it’s like a baby Accord.
I think what worked is that unlike before where the grille is an accent for the fascia, this time it’s part of the main body work, continuing the line that goes from the taillight. Add to that the continuation of chrome to the end of the hood and above the headlights and it diminishes the tacky appeal of the shine and makes it classy. There’s also more space between the lines unlike before, making the City much cleaner and enticing despite not having the RS touches.
Inside, the Honda City V continues its upmarket allure with its cream-colored accents. It adorns the door panels, center console, and the dashboard which reminds me of old school luxury. It’s going to be a pain to maintain, no doubt about that, but I’ll be willing to put up with that just for aesthetics.
There’s more to it than looks, though. The steering wheel is clad in this smooth leather which feels very premium and almost similar to the one on the CR-V. It has cruise control, audio, and call buttons but no play/pause or mute button. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 8-inch touchscreen, and I love this three knob layout for the automatic air controls. I’d prefer the fan control to be nearest to me, but this placement is still fine.
At the back things are spacious, plain, but comfortable. There’s more than enough legroom and headroom for the average Filipino, and can easily fit three people. No center armrest for the rear occupants but they get air vents for them which is very much appreciated as residents of a hot country.
Smooth but audible
The change in the City’s engine isn’t felt out on the road. The 1.5L engine might have improved from single to dual overhead cam, but the engine’s power ratings remain the same at 119hp and 145Nm of torque. This is paired to a CVT that still doesn’t have manual override so overtaking still needs a lot of momentum. If you’re going from a stop, the City jumps out but once you’re rolling, it reverts back to syento-bente mode where the engine is noisy but you’re not really going any faster. If you’re not irritated by slow vehicles in front of you and always cruising instead of really going up to speed, the CVT provides a really smooth performance.
In horrendous rush hour traffic, the City was still able to return 7.8km/l which is pretty average for the size of this car with this engine. It’s more frugal during Sunday driving with its consumption reaching around 12km/l inside the city. Outside of the City though I reached 20km/l but that’s cruising at around 90kph and without much overtaking.
Ride is also stellar. The seats aren’t too low even at the lowest setting which provides good balance to my preferred driving position. The suspension is also good, complimenting the smooth transmission with its ride comfort.
The only minor downside is the cabin seemed to be more susceptible to outside noise, having less of that muffled sound when you’re inside the car. It’s apparent when you’re near trucks or motorcycles are zooming past you. The sound of their engines can be too loud that you’ll have to increase the volume of your music.
Safety is also emphasized with the City V, having four airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill-Start Assist, ABS with EBD, decent-resolution rear camera with guide line, ISOFIX child seat restraints, and speed-sensing door locks.
The new benchmark?
The Honda City V might not have the sporty aura of the RS, but it has its own executive demeanor that has the potential to be timeless. It’s rare for such a big piece of chrome to look good and Honda pulled it off in a very classy way.
They’re not asking much for it, too. You can have this City V for P978,000 which is a nice deal compared to the RS trim that went over a million. It retains modern amenities like the cruise control, Apple and Android capability, the rear air vents, and almost the same safety bits as the RS trim, which is only ahead by two airbags.
Sedans might be not as popular now as they were before but the Honda City V proves that they still provide good value for money.