Driving Honda City in Langkawi

By RIZAL JOHAN | 22 May 2014

A little over a month.

That’s how long it has been since Honda Malaysia launched the latest City sedan, now in its fourth generation, and orders have already crossed over 11,000 units.

It looks like the City’s popularity has not waned among Malaysians and Honda Malaysia, too, went to extensive lengths to make sure the new City struck a chord with the locals.

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Judging by the numbers alone, the City still retains its title as Honda Malaysia’s best-selling model.

This must-have-car now comes in four variants – S, S+, E and V – selling as low as RM75,800 and members of the media were treated to a mid-week getaway to the island of Langkawi where we got a chance to try out the car.

Before we get onto the nuts and bolts of the new City, I have to inform you that I own the pre-facelift, third-generation City and this was the perfect opportunity to compare the two cars.

Even when I was in Langkawi, I had already been asked about it: “Which is the better car?”

This may sound like I’m sitting on the fence, but honestly, both cars are good and completely different from one another.

The new City is definitely an evolution from its previous generation.

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 It’s now lighter, more spacious with improved fuel-efficiency and look, while still retaining the silhouette from the last City, has more pronounced creases on the hood and sides with a bolder front fascia.

It has a completely new transmission system, the in-house developed continuously variable transmission (CVT) and the top variant comes with six-airbags and vehicle stability assist (VSA).

Incidentally, the top-of-the-range V variant complete with Modulo body kit was the car I was driving most of the time in Langkawi. But I also managed to get behind the wheel of the S+ variant.

The features differentiate all the four different variants.

The V has all the bells and whistles like cruise control, smart entry and push-start button, rear air-conditioning vents, touch panel climate control, eight-speaker sound system, seven-inch touchscreen display and 16-inch wheels among others.

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All variants include the 1.5L, 4 cylinder, 16 valve, SOHC i-VTEC engine which outputs 120PS at 6,600rpm and produces a maximum torque of 145Nm at 4,600rpm.

We stayed at a resort in Kuah town and on the first night on the island, I decided to take the V variant out and find a good coffee place.

On the recommendation of my co-driver, we headed north to Datai Bay where The Loaf Bakery & Bistro was located.

We obviously took the longer route to get there passing through villages and dark, windy hill-roads. On top of it, it was raining so the roads were wet, but the car offered a smooth, comfortable and relaxing ride.

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I wasn’t bothered by the CVT transmission which usually has a tendency to drone once you get up to speed, but that wasn’t the case here. Amazingly, the cabin is so well insulated that almost all external noise was blocked off.

The car handled itself well on those windy stretches that it seemed like an effortless drive.

Inside, the centre console of the V variant does have that wow factor with the seven-inch display, the touch panel for auto climate control are like the capacitive buttons found on smartphones and the blue-and-white hues of the instrument panel is a nice touch.

But even without these features like on the S+ variant which is just a step above the entry level S variant, the car still drives and performs just as well as the V.

And this is the true test of a really good car.

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 You can strip out all the eye-catching stuff away and what you are left with is the drive and if that works, you have a winner.

The only complaint I have with the new City is that the rear view is slightly constricted due to the rear parcel shelf which is high.

But this is due to the fact that the new City has boot space of 536L! Oh, and the rear passenger space is comparable to that of the Honda Accord.

The new Honda City has definitely grown up compared to the third-generation City I own.

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At the time when I bought my City, I was still playing Need For Speed: Most Wanted so I appreciated the paddle shifters that came with it and the exhaust note flooding the cabin space was exhilarating.

The fourth-generation City has done away with both and since I’ve done some growing up myself, I didn’t really miss it.

And if you think Honda is going down the boring route, away from its racing DNA to appeal to the masses, you probably haven’t heard that they are developing a new successor to the S2000 roadster.

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CarSifu's Rating: 7.6