Search CarGuide.PH

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The 2021 Honda City Hatchback Is One Sleek City Slicker

It has been a long while since my last Honda and in all fangirl honesty, I was secretly excited. If you hadn’t read my previous stories on the Honda Jazz, Mobilio, Brio, and CR-V, I grew up in a Honda-driving family. I practically knew what to expect with the arrival of each test drive unit. However, the one I was most impressed with was the 2018 Honda Jazz. That being said, I had high hopes for the City Hatchback, if only because I wanted it to prove all the doubting Thomases wrong for ever questioning its worthiness as the successor of the beloved Jazz.

Let’s admit it. There was plenty to be said when the Honda City Hatchback was introduced in the Philippines — particularly because it came at the heels of the exit of the much-loved Honda Jazz. While there were a number of criticisms questioning the brand’s decision to phase out the iconic Jazz and “replace” it with another model in the same format, it is only fair that we give the City Hatchback a fighting chance. After all, the Honda City, in its heyday, was one of the most sought-after on the market. It can’t be any different a couple of decades later. Can it?

Externally, the Honda City Hatchback takes on a classic, sporty design that is characteristic of the ‘90s Honda look, but with a fresh sophisticated appeal that goes perfectly with today’s modern tastes. Being the RS variant means that there are key unique elements to consider, such as the sporty-type slash-design garnish around the LED fog lights, which are complemented by the same pattern that you will find on the LED daytime running lights. For an illusion of length, the slightly rounded slope of the hood ends right above the honeycomb grille and RS front bumper without any structured edges, connected to the same line that runs all the way to the rear hatch.

Appreciation points, however, will always go to the interior cabin of any Honda vehicle, the City Hatchback included. I am a creature of habit, especially when it comes to the cars I drive. I like the layout of the car’s instrument panel and dashboard to be clean, simple, and practical. The thing with Hondas is that while the design has innovated and been modernized with leather uppers, piano-finish details, and rich stitching accents, the usability of the cabin is still what remained priority. Each control switch, knob, and button are where they are expected to be and within easy reach of the driver. Add to that, there is a storage pocket right below climate controls for your smartphone, wallet, or small paraphernalia, as well as much-needed cupholders.

To satiate the needs of the younger crowd, the 8-inch touchscreen entertainment system features an easy-to-navigate interface. I was relieved to discover that the connectivity in this version has been improved, considering how it was always a challenge with previous Honda models for the system to automatically reconnect after being disconnected for a while.

Going back to practicality, what any Honda vehicle is known for would be space. The City Hatchback looks slim, compact, and somewhat compressed from the outside. Internally, the cabin offers generous legroom for the first and second rows, even with the driver and passenger seats pushed back considerably. No problem for long-legged passengers here! Taller individuals, though, may find it cramped as the height of the cabin offers little headroom. So, if you’re anywhere beyond the height of the average Filipino male, prepare to feel the ceiling grazing over your painstakingly groomed hairstyle.

Thankfully, it often does not take a long, highway drive for a Honda to shine. A few days of city-bonding in the time of COVID-19 is more than enough. The all-new Honda City Hatchback runs on a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder DOHC i-VTEC engine, mated to a CVT transmission. A mouthful, I know, but all that translates to performance that is gradual on the offtake, with that smooth surge of power that doesn’t give you that jerky encounter that you normally get when it seems like the system is trying to catch up to you. And it’s power that remains consistent and capable, with a stable suspension that offers light roll over your standard road bumps and potholes.

After much ado, how do I think the all-new City Hatchback stacks up? For someone who has high standards for what a Honda can deliver, it can definitely hold its own in today’s competitive automotive arena. Remember—what is needed today, more than ever, is a vehicle that is reliable and practical, one that can take on the daily grind, keep its driver confident, safe, and secure, while still satisfying the taste of the modern sophisticate. The City Hatchback is that brave little bugger that knows its place in the world—a city slicker that is prepared for the challenge of the urban jungle and that unexpected drive out on the highway.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu.


  1. The Honda City and Honda Civic are both great and iconic cars in their respective segments 😊👍
    - Mark J (Vios owner)

  2. Hi sir Uly. If you compare the ride quality and comfort of this new city hatchback and mazda 3, who would win?

    I know they are on different segments. I am shopping for a C-segment sedan, but if thinking practicality and best back for the buck, I am considering the city hatchback.

    1. As you rightfully mentioned, they're competing in two different categories. In terms of overall ride and comfort, the Mazda3 still wins. It's definitely quieter, refined, and more solid than any B-segment sedan/hatchback.

      Having said that, if interior space is your main consideration, then you're better off with the City Hatchback. Space aside though, if you start comparing it to a C-segment car, it won't have the same level of solidity, plushness in materials)...even the ergonomics, you'd find, is slightly compromised for packaging.

      If you're shopping for a C-segment it would be best to cross-shop the Mazda3 with the Civic. Take note though that supplies, particularly of the Mazda3 are hard to come by so the wait times may be a bit long.

    2. Thank you! Your response saved me time instead of doing a test drive.
      I was only thinking since the Mazda 3 has stiffer suspension, the City can have almost the same ride comfort.

    3. Both are firm, but not stiff. The City is betrayed by virtue of being a B-segment when going over things like pavement cracks and stuff. It has this tendency to shimmy. Also, grip levels when pushed aren't as good as the Mazda3. Mazda3 will have more poise when it comes to soaking up road imperfections and will exhibit better handling and grip when pushed. It also has far less brake dive.

  3. *best bang for the buck
    Sorry typo..


Feel free to comment or share your views. Comments that are derogatory and/or spam will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to moderate and/or remove comments.