All-new 5th Generation Honda City launched – but hybrid variant comes later

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After a month-long teaser campaign, the all-new Honda City in its 5th generation is officially launched for sale. In spite of the current mood of uncertainty due to the pandemic, there are already some 5,000 people who have put their money down for one and no doubt, the number will grow now that the new model is in showrooms.

The highlight of the teaser campaigns has been the new City RS e:HEV variant, which has a hybrid powertrain. Having been the first company to assemble a hybrid model locally, Honda Malaysia continues to offer it in the City with a new 2-motor hybrid system powered by intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD). Malaysia is the first country in the world to launch the RS e:HEV variant and the honour is partly because this market accounts for 40% of the hybrid vehicles Honda has sold in its Asia & Oceania region.

However, if you’re keen to get one, it’s not available right away and deliveries will only start in January 2021. So while shouting a lot about it, Honda Malaysia is not revealing its price yet but you can book one if you want and be among the first owners.

Since the hybrid model won’t be here for a few more months, we’ll focus on the other three variants first and then go back to it. As before, the variants are S, E and V, all with a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine with a DOHC and 16-valve cylinder head. Output from this proven engine is 121 ps/145 Nm which goes through a CVT to the front wheels.

Until the end of this year, the prices will be exempted from 10% sales tax. After that, if there is no extension of the exemption, they will revert to the prices as shown below (without insurance).

Honda City 1.5S: RM76,800 | Honda City 1.5E: RM84,800 | Honda City 1.5V: RM89,800

The platform has essentially the same elements as before although, in the spirit of kaizen (constant improvement), there would be improvements in materials and engineering to increase efficiency and comfort.

ASEAN NCAP 5-star rating
The latest City has already been tested by ASEAN NCAP and given the maximum rating of 5 stars, which is not surprising. Besides its strong and protective body structure, the car also has a comprehensive range of safety systems that will help the driver avoid accidents and in the 1.5V, six airbags to provide cushioning during a severe accident.

While virtually all cars today come with reverse sensors to help during parking, Honda Malaysia also includes a reverse camera in all three variants. Unlike many reverse camera systems which present only a single image, the one in the City can show three angles – wide, normal and top-down. The different views aid proper positioning of the car in a bay so it won’t appear in some social media post as an example of poor parking.

Same functionality, practicality
Inside, the new City maintains the same functional and practical layout with improvements in the quality of materials. There’s an extra 111 mm in overall length which has been put to good use by improving rear legroom while an additional 54 mm in the overall width should also do something for lateral comfort.

The standard equipment is quite extensive although the cheapest 1.5S variant does not have cruise control nor paddle shifters, and the air-conditioning system requires manual managements. However, all variants now have ducting to the rear so more cool air can reach the passengers.

The  1.5E and 1.5V variants also have Remote Engine Start which allows starting the engine before you even open the doors. While modern engines don’t really need to warm up before moving off, being able to start the engine remotely means that the air-conditioning can be activated to cool down the interior.

The audio system is a standard type on the 1.5S but 1.5E and 1.5V come with an 8-inch display panel that looks like a tablet was stuck on the centre of the dashboard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are provided so smartphones can be easily linked and apps transferred to the display. For ease of operation, the icons on the display are large so they will be easy to select. Management of the audio system can be done using switches on the steering wheel.

Honda continues to use rotary dials for the air-conditioning system which is actually better than other methods. With rotary dials, adjustments can be easily done even without looking, certainly better than having the settings done via a touchscreen.

For those who need to recharge their devices, there are two USB ports, along with a 12V plug-in power outlet. Both are located at the front but, strangely rear passengers get two 12V sockets, (located  below the air-conditioner vents) instead of USB ports which would be more useful.

Evolutionary styling
The styling of the new City can be considered evolutionary with a sleeker profile as a result of the lower roofline. The front end has also been completely restyled with slimmer headlights. Those on the 1.5V are LEDs and all variants come with LED daytime running lights that also provide a distinctive visual ‘signature’. The rear lighting units on all variants are all LEDs, which has given more design flexibility.

The City RS e-HEV
As this variant won’t be available until January 2021, we’ll just provide an overview for now and tell you more in detail when the car actually goes on sale. As mentioned earlier, the RS e:HEV variant is a world-first with its intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) powertrain.

This electrified powertrain is an advanced hybrid powertrain with 2 motors and an Electric Continuous Variable Transmission (e-CVT). Together with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the i-MMD powertrain can generate up to 253 Nm of torque, an exceptional output for its size. Maximum power output is 108 ps which can take the City beyond 170 km/h and yet consume fuel at a claimed rate of 26.5 kms/litre.

The fuel efficiency comes from intelligent use of the two power units, alternating between three driving modes of EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive. There are no paddle shifters but there are Deceleration Selector Paddles that allow the driver to slow down while also getting power regeneration to recharge the battery pack.

The RS variant will have a sportier interior with Ultrasuede upholstery and Red Stitching as well as  Sport Pedal Pads. The instrument panel also uses a 7-inch TFT screen to display a wide range of information to the driver.

To enhance the appeal of the City RS, it will be offered with Honda SENSING, a suite of driver assistance systems that are the most advanced in its class. Using a front wide view camera mounted on the windscreen, it can adjust the cruising speed, identify pedestrians and even cyclists and warn the driver or activate the brakes, if necessary. The system can also help to keep the car within its lane and alert the driver if there is wandering off the lane (or even road). Also included is an automatic high-beam system which switches to low beam if there is an oncoming vehicle so as not to dazzle the driver.

Honda LANEWATCH, which was first offered in the Accord, now reaches the City and will be available in the RS variant. This innovative feature provides the driver with a view of the blind spot on the left side of the car by using a small camera mounted below the left door mirror. The display appears whenever the signal light switch is activated. The good thing about this approach is that the driver does not have to turn the head much to see the display at the centre of the dashboard, as opposed to looking for a warning light on the door mirror.

As with other models, Honda Malaysia also offers Modulo accessories specially for the new City. There are 4 packages to suit different requirements with prices starting from RM3,007. The cost can be included in the financing of the car and therefore repaid over a number of years… something which no accessory shop would give you.

Test-drive and viewing of the new City can be done at all authorised Honda dealerships nationwide (although some may be subject to specific MCO conditions). To locate a dealership, visit www.honda.com.my.

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