|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Given the chance to sample the base City variant, the 1.5 E, it shines as a great first family car. And while it isn’t necessarily the one you’ll buy to carve mountain roads with, it’s arguably the most practical choice. Outlined below are five great reasons why it makes for a practical family car. Of course, if you don’t agree, feel free to react by dropping a note in the Comments section below.
It’s got space for all the lives you lead
If there’s one single aspect that sets the City apart from everyone else in the sub-compact segment, it’s the interior space. Far and large, it’s the comfiest car to be in, especially if you plan to use it regularly to ferry five adults. The rear quarters deserve an honorable mention for the almost-flat floor and abundance of knee room. Though not recommended for safety reasons, there’s actually enough knee room at the back to sit with your legs crossed—a trait the City shares with its bigger brother, the Accord. Plus, unlike other sub-compacts which tend to sacrifice cubby hole space, the City does offer a decent amount of storage space for small knick-knacks and devices. What’s more, it’s got a cavernous trunk that can swallow more than a week’s worth of groceries. If need be, it can take in two full-sized suitcases for that airport run.
Area for improvement: As much as you’d like the City’s deep and large trunk, the addition of a 60/40 split-folding rear seat would have made it perfect. Of course, if you need the extra cargo flexibility, Honda does offer the Jazz which has that magical ULTR rear bench.
It’s fuel efficient yet peppy
Fuel efficiency is once again thrown into the spotlight when it comes to a new car purchase. It’s now a very important consideration, not because of pump prices per se, but because of Manila’s horrendous traffic. And while other cookie cutter sub-compacts putter on with carryover drivetrains, Honda has answered the call and provided the City with an extremely usable package. The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine maybe carried over from the previous-gen model, but it’s pretty adept for everyday driving. The secret here is found in the new ECON mode which modifies several engine parameters squeezing out even more kilometers per liter. Another is the Earth Dreams CVT that provides excellent real-world fuel efficiency without getting bogged down by a rubber brand feel commonly associated with belt-driven transmissions. Having sampled the City in various trim levels, it has done between 9.2 to 10.8 km/L in the city and 19.58 to 20.8 km/L on the highway.
Area for improvement: Frankly, the City’s already impressive enough when it comes to its drivetrain, but a move to a completely new Earth Dreams engine will no doubt increase those mileage figures even more.
It’s got all the necessary tech
Who says convenience technology should only be limited to vehicles costing a million pesos and above? With the latest iteration, Honda has actually put a lot of emphasis in improving creature comfort features. In fact, vis-à-vis all other City models before it, it represents the biggest jump in terms of standard tech. Of course, a part of it is because of the increased competition in the sub-compact segment as well as the introduction of entry-level models such as the Brio and Brio Amaze. While the focus has always been on the VX and VX+ models, even the entry-level E is loaded. Aside from the usual power convenience features, the E comes with a tilt/telescopic steering column with electric power assist steering, a multi-function trip computer in the instrument cluster, a Kenwood audio system with both USB and Bluetooth, and a full-featured manual air conditioning system. A starter car can’t get any better.
Area for improvement: Whoever designed the Kenwood audio system should be fired and not for the reason you think. Operating it is relatively straight-forward although some functions require you to browse through the owner’s manual to get right. The biggest culprit is the display which is just too dim. During the day, station or track IDs are unreadable despite being in the highest available brightness setting. At night, it’s no better. And please, why can’t the gauges also be lit in white just like the rest of the cabin.
It’s mighty safe
Before, compact cars are usually the go-to vehicles for young families; today, with starting pricings going up past one million, sub-compacts are the way to go. Thankfully, carmakers have begun to understand that upwardly mobile families still consider safety as a top priority and have started to equip their entry-level vehicles with the same sort of safety equipment normally reserved for more expensive models. Take the Honda City for instance. It received high marks at the New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asian Countries or ASEAN NCAP. The City received the highest score in the small family car category as well as overall. Standard safety features include dual SRS airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and even ISOFIX child seat anchors. Although the particular model to receive the top prize is the City equipped with Vehicle Stability Assist or VSA, the 1.5 E is no slouch receiving 4 out of 5 stars in ASEAN NCAP ratings.
Area for improvement: The more safety equipment, the better. Understandably, Honda reserves features like stability assist and the rear view camera on their higher-end models, but perhaps they can throw the entry-level model a bone and equip it at least with rear parking sensors as well.
It’s well built
Aside from being frugal at the pump, Honda Cars Philippines has made sure that the City is not just affordable, but easy to maintain. They’re the first manufacturer to double the standard Preventive Maintenance Service (PMS) cycle from 5,000 to 10,000 kilometers (or 3 to 6 months whichever comes first). Consider this: a full three years of City ownership costs around P 42,663.61 (average of P 7,110.56 per year) or projected over 60,000 kilometers, roughly P 0.71 per kilometer. Even with the cost of unleaded gasoline pegged at P 38 per liter, it adds just P 4.13 per kilometer. Without factoring depreciation, the total running cost of the City is just P 4.84 per kilometer for the first three years. Not bad, considering a more expensive PPV will set you back around close to P 12 per kilometer in terms of fuel and maintenance.