Test Drive: Honda City 1.5 E CVT Limited Edition

Whether we like it or not cars have become an inescapable part of our lives. For people in the Philippines specifically, where most drives are three-hour marathons of constant one-two steps between the gas and the brake slowly inching towards their destinations, the desire for comfort both for driving and riding in cars has become a rhetorical question—an obvious point for consideration when it comes to purchasing the right car.

And so, I decided to put the Limited Edition Honda City to the test as an everyday car—bringing it around the Metro, to and from work or leisure, and back home in Rizal—to see if it’s a fit for the average Filipino traveller from the long arduous traffic sessions to those rare and treasured moments when you can ease off the brakes and accelerate past 40.

Design: 4/5

In its essence, the car is still a Honda City. And that is not a bad thing. The new Honda City boasts of a sportier “angular” design with streamlines at the sides tapering to the tail lights, nice body detail, and alloy wheels.
Apart from the basic Honda City looks, the Limited Edition adds daytime running lamps and door window visors.

The Limited Edition that I got to test had an eye-catching ruby red pearl color paintjob, and it does make the car stand out in the parking lot or on the street. The model is also available in gold brown metallic and taffeta white.

The interior is pretty similar to the basic Honda City CVT. The console is lined with a gunmetal finish, while the steering wheel is made of garnished urethane.

There is a fair bit of leg-room inside for both the front seat and the back seat. Even for a big dude like me, the backseat is a pretty enjoyable place to sit in.

A lot of times, the “ergonomic design” does not really translate to comfort, and usually just means being sunk in a bowl of lower back pain, dreading the out of town trip before it has even begun. However, in the case of the City, the seats mould to the back nicely.

The trunk is pretty roomy as well, with a capacity of 536 liters on paper which could fit a good deal.

Hardware: 4/5

The Honda City runs on a Euro 4-certified 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder. It has a max power of 120 HP @ 6,600 rpm and a good amount of torque @ 125 Nm on 4,800 rpm. This car can go up to 190 kph, but let’s hope you won’t have to reach that on your way to work.

The Honda City, like other cars in the Honda line, uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which promises better performance and fuel efficiency, while maintaining a near-seamless driving experience.

Apart from the standard drive, the car also has a Sport and ECO mode. The ECO mode coaches the vehicle so that it provides optimal power at maximum efficiency to lessen energy consumption. Trying out the ECO and normal settings in similar driving conditions, the difference between consumption is about 0.2 to 0.3 kilometers per liter with the car recording 7.8 km/L on ECO mode.

Security-wise the vehicle has dual SRS airbags and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). As extra safety features to the Limited Edition model, Honda added an auto-door lock system which automatically locks the doors when the car goes faster than 15 kph and also unlocks when the car is set to park.

The Limited Edition model also has a panic button which when pressed causes the car to honk its horn and light up to let people know that you are in trouble. Thankfully, I had no cause to use it while testing the car out.

Inside, the vehicle has a no-frills Kenwood audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, and a 3.5 mm jack which is actually a personal preference in car entertainment systems. Simplicity is an underrated thing these days.

User Experience: 4/5

Driving the City is great. Since I used it as an everyday car, I was for the most part stuck in traffic. To boot, it was a very rainy week so traffic was extra bad. With plenty of leg-room and a very comfortable seat, driving through EDSA during rush hour did not seem like such a bad thing.
Now, a lot of people would probably meet my opinion on the car’s transmission with a groan or a sigh, but I happen to like the CVT. This type of transmission is a great thing for people who like a chill drive. And for the everyday travel to and from work where driving feels more like a chore than a leisure activity, the CVT will certainly help ease
the frustration.
For people who have a lead foot when it comes to the gas pedal, the CVT will take a while to get used to since it does take some time to get moving from being stationary. But since the CVT will give the optimum power depending on speed and direction, it is easier to pick up speed or slow down and steer without braking loss.

When I brought it up to Rizal for the weekend, the Honda City proved that it had the chops for maneuvering through the snaking roads up Rizal.

The only problem I have with the car is that the steering felt quite isolated and numb which made it a little difficult to get a feel of the road at faster speeds. It’s okay for city driving, but it would be more noticeable for long drives.

Value: 3.5/5

As I’ve said before, in its essence, the Limited Edition is still the Honda City we are familiar with. While still a great car, the extra bells and whistles on the Limtied aren’t enough incentive to shell out more cash with the Limited Edition being priced at PHP 824,000.

What’s Hot:

  • CVT makes for a chill drive
  • Comfortable

What’s Not:

  • Steering needs more feel

Bottomline:

The Honda City Limited Edition lives up to its name as a great everyday car for the Metro.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE November 2016 issue

Words and Photos by Robby Vaflor

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