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2014 Honda City Review: VTi and VTi-L Photo:
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Tony O'Kane | May, 13 2014 | 10 Comments

2014 HONDA CITY REVIEW

What’s Hot: Low, low entry price, lots of features, huge boot
What’s Not: Engine doesn’t break new ground, tight rear headroom
X-FACTOR: Looking for a capable light sedan? Honda has an answer in the new City.

Vehicle Style: 5-door small sedan
Price: $15,990 - $21,390 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 88kW/145Nm 1.4 petrol 4cyl | 6sp manual or CVT auto.
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.7 l/100km | Tested:6.2 l/100km


 

OVERVIEW

Light sedans don’t sell in the big numbers that light hatches do. Proof? Honda Australia last year picked up just 679 sales of the previous-gen Honda City against 5726 for the Jazz hatch.

But now there’s a new City in Honda showrooms, and this one has a bit more going for it.

Though the light segment has contracted slightly in the first half of this year, Honda says it expects to sell around 250 Citys each month.

And why shouldn’t it be confident? Competitors include the mediocre Nissan Almera and the staid Toyota Yaris sedan and Hyundai Accent. And, at $15,990 the City VTi is cheaper than all of them.

It’s also not that bad inside.

Yes, it’s a compact budget four-door and in certain areas that really shows through, but the new City is a far more enticing package than the car it replaces.

TMR travelled to Canberra to take the 2014 Honda City range for a quick spin. Here’s what we thought.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • VTi: Display Audio system, 7-inch touchscreen display, manual air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, height-adjustable driver’s seat, reach/rake adjustable steering wheel, cloth upholstery, cruise control, reversing camera, 4-speaker stereo.
  • VTi-L (in addition to VTi): Climate control air conditioning, external boot release, keyless entry and ignition, foglamps, power folding wing mirrors, leather steering wheel and gear lever, 8-speaker stereo
  • Boot capacity: 536L, seats up.

The new City VTi sells for $500 less than the previous-gen model, yet it’s got a better-finished interior, a more pleasing design and more equipment as standard.

The black, hard plastic dash is broken up by a big slash of silver trim (which strangely doesn’t line up with anything on the door trims), with the Display Audio system’s seven-inch colour touchscreen being the centrepiece.

When paired with a compatible iPhone with a data connection (and after forking out $50 for the required app), the base model City VTi boasts a useable integrated sat-nav system with clean, crisp graphics.

That’s a unique selling point for a light car, and one that may prove to push more than a few buyers in the City’s direction.

Unfortunately, it’s a clunky system that requires the iPhone to be connected to the car via not one, but two cables, and the software isn’t entirely foolproof either.

Comfort-wise, the front seats are commodious, the bare urethane steering wheel isn’t unpleasant (the up-spec VTi-L gets a leather-trimmed wheel), there’s a generously-sized footrest and all switchgear is nice to operate.

If only the front door armrests were upholstered in something softer than hard plastic.

And though Honda says it has improved rear seat dimensions, there’s a distinct lack of headroom in the back. At least rear legroom is in plentiful supply, and there’s even a fold-down centre armrest for backseaters in the base City VTi.

Honda also took great pains to emphasise the City’s gargantuan boot, which at 536 litres is not only class-leading for a light sedan, but bigger than that of a Commodore or Falcon.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • 88kW/145Nm 1.4 naturally aspirated petrol 4 cylinder
  • 6 speed manual or CVT auto. Front-wheel drive
  • MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension
  • 15-inch steel wheels on VTi, 16-inch alloys on VTi-L

The 2014 City’s 1.5 litre four-pot doesn’t break new ground, and mechanically is almost identical to the powerplant of the outgoing model.

Outputs don’t change from 88kW and 145Nm, though efficiency improvements see the new City consume an average of 5.7 l/100km when specced with the optional CVT automatic.

The CVT is expected to account for the lion’s share of sales, though the City VTi comes with a six-speed manual as standard. Move up to the City VTi-L and the CVT is the sole transmission offered.

We weren’t able to sample the manual at launch (we’ll put that one through the wringer later), but the CVT performs well - though without much in the way of driving excitement.

It does a reasonable job of keeping the engine on the boil, though it did take a while to settle on a ratio when faced with a steep hill.

The calibration of both transmission and throttle also seems to be a bit too sharp, resulting in jerky forward progress if you’re not gentle with the accelerator.

The mainly urban/highway drive route at the launch posed few dynamic challenges for the City’s MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, but we can vouch for the car’s ride comfort.

Long undulations are easily dealt with and body movements are well controlled, though smaller, sharper lumps will send the occasional jolt through the cabin - even on the base model’s 15-inch steel wheels.

No complaints with the City’s steering though, which though electrically-assisted is nicely weighted and consistent in feel.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: The 2014 Honda City has yet to be tested by ANCAP.

Safety features: ABS, EBD, brake assist, stabilty control, traction control, reverse parking camera and six airbags are standard on every City.

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

The new City makes a far more compelling light sedan than its predecessor, and it’s particularly attractive in base form, where it savages the competition on not only price, but on standard equipment.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The new City is a massive improvement on the previous generation, and easily one of the most attractive options in the light sedan segment.

If you want a smaller sedan and don’t see yourself carrying rear passengers on a regular basis (but also value a large cargo capacity), the new City fits the bill.

It also ticks the right boxes if you just want to spend as little as possible on a sedan, but don’t want to sacrifice quality or equipment in the process.

The 2014 City succeeds on a number of levels, and, unlike its ho-hum predecessor, it’s one that we’d happily recommend for a close look.

 

PRICING (excludes on-road costs)

  • VTi manual - $15,990
  • VTi auto - $17,990
  • VTi-L auto - $21,390

 
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