Sunday, December 28, 2008

The all-new Honda City unveiled

The all-new Honda City unveiled

Posted by: Andy Mervin George
Honda Malaysia today unveiled the third-generation Honda City compact sedan in Kuala Lumpur.

The all-new City comes with numerous firsts in its class, combining style, performance and practicality, but more on that as you read on.

Not just the regular City car for the ladies here

There are two variants available, these being tagged Grade E and Grade S. The Grade E comes with additional paddle shifters, rear reclining seats with an underseat tray and 16-inch sport alloy wheels.

Exterior style-wise, the City adopts what Honda calls an ‘Arrowshot Form’ design outlook from end-to-end. Strikingly, the front end resembles a transformable robot from an animated movie, whilst the tail lamps look very much like those found on the BMW 3-Series.

The i-DSI block is history, so the new City goes about its business with a single powerplant choice, this being a newly-developed four-cylinder 1.5l i-VTEC engine which pushes out 120bhp at 6,000rpm and 145Nm of torque at 4,800rpm. Compliant with Euro 4 level emission standards, the City is deemed the most powerful compact sedan in the market to date.

The advanced i-VTEC engine is now mated with a five-speed automatic transmission with Shift Hold Control and is the first in its class. Gone too is the CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) gearbox, an omission brought about by the rougher style of driving encountered here, according to surveys carried out by Honda Japan’s R&D division.

Compensating for the absence of a manual transmission gearbox (a five-speed manual is available in both Thailand and Singapore) are the paddle shifters in the Grade E, which provides the driver with a sportier means of changing gears.

Functional minus the clutter, and it brings out a gutsy feeling in you

The steering wheel is now of the tilt and telescopic type, and the footrest is now wider as the accelerator and brake pedals have been shifted more to the right. The car comes with EPS (Electric Power Steering), and safety comes in the form of dual SRS airbags and front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters.

Stopping power is reinforced with ABS (anti-lock braking system) with EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution), while BA (Brake Assist) amplifies the driver’s foot force with minimal pedal input.

Entertainment for the occupants inside the City is provided by an advanced audio system that is compatible with MP3 players, iPod, USB memory or a mobile hard disk drive. In the Grade E variant, you get a six-speaker system with steering wheel audio controls, while the Grade S makes do with a four-speaker arrangement.

The all-new City does not compromise in rear passenger convenience with a fold-down armrest that also houses integrated cup holders.

Another first in its class, the City’s rear trunk is able to contain a whopping 506l of cargo, which is equivalent to being able to store four nine-inch-wide golf bags.

As mentioned, the Grade E’s rear seats can be folded in a 60:40 split configuration for extended luggage carrying capacity, and is fitted with an underseat tray to stow away wet umbrellas or footwear.

There are a total of five colours to choose from – Alabaster Silver Metallic, Bold Beige Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic, and new colours Crystal Black Pearl and Deep Lapis Blue Metallic. Unfortunately, a striking signature colour called Habanero Red Pearl, as well as a very pretty Tafetta White, is not available.

The Honda City is manufactured in Malaysia, with 30% of the parts sourced locally, including the seats and instrument panel, while the rest are from Japan.

Get into the City and it makes you happy

According to Atsushi Fujimoto, managing director of Honda Malaysia, the previous City was still doing quite well into the end of its run, having registered a total sales volume of 8,000 units from Jan to Nov this year. With the arrival of the new one, Honda Malaysia is targeting to sell about 1,500 units of the new City on a monthly basis, and pre-launch bookings have been brisk, with more than 1,500 orders to date - as of launch time, the waiting period is a month, though that is surely to change if more orders come about.

The City rolls in at RM84,980 for the Grade S and RM89,980 for the Grade E (both on the road, with insurance) and comes with a three-year warranty or 100,000km and six months free service or 10,000km, whichever comes first.

A Modulo accessories package is available to spruce up the City’s exterior, and this consists of front, side, rear and trunk spoilers, all for an additional RM4,750.