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October 26, 2017

Will You Buy a Honda City with the Same Power as a Civic 1.8?

Honda is pushing to electrify two-thirds of their global line-up in 13 years time as part of their Vision 2030 strategy. One of the interesting solutions that solves a part of the problem (cost and complexity) is Honda’s decision that not one hybrid system fits all. They have, in fact, rolled out three systems under the Sport Hybrid family and one of them can even be found in the Honda City!

The three systems that Honda developed are i-DCD (Intelligent Dual-Clutch Drive), i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive), and SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive).

While i-MMD and SH-AWD are used primarily in medium and large vehicles like the Accord, CR-V, and Legend, the i-DCD is designed primarily for smaller cars.

The spiritual successor to the IMA or Integrated Motor Assist, this compact yet highly efficient system realizes low fuel consumption while still delivering peppy performance. It allows a Honda equipped with the i-DCD to switch between EV-only mode and a gasoline-electric Hybrid Drive mode using just the accelerator pedal as the judge.

There are three components anchored by a 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC engine and a small, high-torque motor with a high-current lithium-ion battery. The third component provides the “brain” managing the two engines using the Hybrid Drive dual clutch transmission.

Surprisingly, Honda’s been rolling out its i-DCD quite rapidly including on the rather unassuming City subcompact sedan. Called Grace in Japan, the Grace Sport Hybrid i-DCD delivers a combined output of 137 horsepower and 170 Nm of torque, equaling the Civic 1.8. Oh, and 160 Nm of torque arrives at zero, yes zero rpms. And despite these power figures, it returns up to 34.4 km/L which is triple that of a conventionally-powered City.

The best thing about the Grace Sport Hybrid i-DCD is that it doesn’t shout its green credentials a mile away. With the exception of the single “Hybrid” badge at the back, it looks like the conventional City down to 16-inch rim’s pattern.

Inside, it’s a mix of the familiar and the high-tech. Being a variant of the Grace line-up, it carries on with the same cabin layout down to the steering wheel, seats, stalks, and what have you. Peer through the instrument cluster and you get two LCD screens flanking the analog speedometer. The left side shows the status of the hybrid system while on the right is a multi-information screen. Peer down, and you’ll notice that the conventional shifter’s been replaced with a stubby, toggle-type one. It’s still got the familiar PRND pattern, but this one is actuated electronically requiring just a slap up or down to engage the various driving modes. It’s even got a Sport mode too!

During the short handling course at the Twin Ring Motegi, it’s quite obvious that the Sport Hybrid i-DCD system gives a very different driving character to a familiar car. It’s eerily quiet since it uses its electric motor for low-throttle applications. It’ll stay in that mode for as long as you’re gingerly with your right foot. Push down the accelerator midway, say on uphill climbs, and the 1.5-liter engine kicks in. Everything feels seamless, but admittedly, having the engine turn itself on and off depending on how much you squeeze the gas pedal takes some getting used to. The 7-speed dual-clutch is also snappy, shifting quickly and decisively during the drive.

The interesting bit is how Honda Japan positions the Grace Sport Hybrid i-DCD. While it’s seen as an entry-level car in the Philippines; in Japan, that label goes to the Fit (our Jazz), which is also available with the Sport Hybrid i-DCD. The Made-in-Japan Grace Sport Hybrid i-DCD is meant more for conservative individuals, those with families, and the older set. Because of this, they’ve placed occupant comfort and quietness as priorities over outright handling and sportiness.

Now, if you’re asking how much the Grace Sport Hybrid i-DCD costs, it tops out at 2,210,000 yen or around P 1,009,500. That may sound like a lot of money, but that’s not too far from how much the conventional City sells in the Philippines. Plus, the Grace does get a lot of cutting-edge stuff such as lane keeping assist and active city braking.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that there’s no chance that the Philippines will get the Grace Sport Hybrid i-DCD (or any other Honda hybrid), any time soon, think again. Countries such as Malaysia has already taken advantage of government subsidies to bring in the Jazz and City both equipped with the i-DCD system over there. And if the revised new vehicle excise tax takes into effect, maybe that will give carmakers the opening they need to bring more hybrid cars in.

In the mean time though, we can all dream.


  1. Hell yeah. The problem is Honda Philippines has a tendency to overprice their products. This will probably be more than 1.1M.

    1. 1 1m for a hybdrid? In your dreams. The prius costs more than 2m

  2. Dual clutch transmissions have questionable reliability though.

  3. too complex. lots of things to break. just give me a "low cost" pure electric already

  4. thanks for this usefull article, waiting for this article like this again. Pirelli Tyres


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