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August 23, 2022

The City RS Combines Fresh, Sporty Style With Honda's Signature Driving Performance

Looking back, one of our family’s most memorable cars was the Honda City. The first Honda City that was launched by Honda Cars Philippines entered the market as a game-changer of its time and with a theme song, to boot. Not only did we have one of the them in our garage, it quickly escalated to fill the streets of Metro Manila, becoming a prime choice for first-time car buyers or for starting professionals.

Over the years, the Honda City continued to evolve, adapting to the tastes of each new era. For a time, its popularity had admittedly waned, unable to capture the interest of new consumers with its futuristic designs. Today, it’s back with a fresh, sporty appeal and one that’s set to capture the interest of a younger, more vibrant generation of car owners who take driving performance just as seriously as aesthetic soundness.

Being an RS variant, this particular City exudes the exciting imagery that’s reminiscent of the brand’s racing days, sitting on 16-inch dynamic RS design alloy wheels. It has a strong, high-gloss black grilled frontage that has a vintage, old-school appeal, updated with the modern RS bumpers, complementing black trims, and full LED headlights and daytime running lights. The generous hood line connects seamlessly to the wide, generous windscreen, creating an elegant curvature that sweeps from the nose to the roofline to the backside of the vehicle.

All in all, the Honda City RS brings back the classic Honda design elements that we all knew and loved. Being an ol’ reliable, it also maintains the same level of functionality for every kind of driver, whether a newbie or a seasoned commuter. The Honda City RS welcomes you into the cabin via Smart Entry, featuring a One-Push Start System. The driver and passenger experience is just as you would expect from any Honda—finished in luxe-touch comfort, ergonomically sound adjustable seating, and with all the pertinent controls within easy reach.

Adapting to the demands of modern connectivity, the Honda City RS is equipped with an 8-inch infotainment system that comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing for safe, wireless system control while on the move. What wouldn’t win any design awards, however, was the look of the actual system.

The head unit, though seamless integrated into the dashboard panel, lacks the same modern upgrade that the rest of the car had. From the exterior to the rest of the interior, there was clear intentionality in bringing the City up to the times. Sadly, the one thing that defines modernity didn’t make the cut. It could do well to take cues from its aftermarket counterparts.

The new look of the Honda City RS brings back memories of Honda’s track days, giving off a thrilling, adventure-seeking aura. As you get behind the wheel, you would get almost that same kind of excitable performance—almost. Under the hood, the City runs on a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine mated to a CVT gearbox. With 121 horsepower and 145 Nm of torque, the actual, seat-of the-pants feel is precisely what you would expect from the numbers. The power delivery and acceleration is smooth and unhampered, with the ability to adapt to the driver’s requirements, including quick turns and lane-changing.

Better still, Honda’s penchant for producing excellent fuel economy is very much present in the latest City RS. In its latest AAP-sanctioned fuel economy run, it achieves 25.17 km/L—besting the 23.9 km/L figure back in 2017. And even if you don’t drive it with a fuel miser mindset, Petron XCS’s additive chemistries promotes fuel efficiency to the tune of more than 10 km/L. Your full tank surely goes a long way here.

Honda’s signature sensitive braking is also present in this generation City, giving you quick, decided response whenever you need to slow down. On the other hand, the suspension is firmer than expected from a sedan, forcing the driver to glide over traffic humps and road bumps ever so gently each time to avoid that uncomfortable bounce.

The Honda City RS did right by the brand and nameplate by having just the right combination of modern, sporty styling and classic reliability. From the inside-out to performance to safety, you get exactly what you would expect from the car, which is how it is with any Honda vehicle.

What would make the Honda City RS an even more unquestionable choice? If only it came with Honda SENSING, the brand’s advanced driver assist system, the City RS would be untouchable in its segment. Because in today’s environment, standard safety features can only do so much and drivers have begun to see the significance of technological integration in their daily drives. It would be great to see Honda SENSING become standard in the City RS, but in the here and now, things are off to a strong start for this sub-compact sedan.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu.

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