This though was nearly 25 years ago and over the years, we have seen several iterations of the Honda City over nearly two and a half decades. Honda currently sells both the fifth-generation and the fourth-generation of the City side-by-side and it was time for a new tech-laden Honda City to come our way.
Now, it has. Honda Car India recently revealed the City e:HEV. It is a proper strong hybrid and that simply means there is none of the mild hybrid nonsense. We got behind the wheel of the new Honda City e:HEV to experience the technology it has to offer and also to find out what this green sedan is all about.
Design & Style
At first glance, one would be led to believe the design and styling of the standard model has been retained on the hybrid. However, a closer look reveals the minor changes the e:HEV sports.
The LED headlamps with the thick chrome strip on top of the grille has been retained from the standard model. This can lead you to believe the grille too is the same. However, the grille now features a honeycomb pattern as opposed to the horizontal slats found on the standard model.
The fog lamp housing too has been completely redesigned and it now features a claw-like styling. Rounding off the changes up front is the new Honda logo. It now features blue accents and this tells you that it is a hybrid vehicle.
Most of the design and styling bits on the side profile too remain the same. It gets the blacked-out B-pillar, chrome door handles, shark-fin antenna, and strong shoulder line. It also rides on the same 16-inch dual-tone diamond-cut alloy wheels. However, instead of the gunmetal grey bits on the wheels, you now get a glossy black finish.
A major difference on the side profile is that, there is a camera mounted underneath the left ORVM. This camera feeds imagery to the infotainment screen when the driver turns on the left turn-signal indicator. This is done in order to provide a clearer view of the left side for the driver to make a safer and more informed decision.
At the rear too, not much has changed. It now gets a lip spoiler on the boot lid, and on the boot is the updated Honda logo with the blue accent. You also get the ‘City’ and ‘ZX’ badging which denotes that it is the top-spec variant. Then comes the e:HEV badging that makes it easier to identify as a hybrid. The biggest change though, comes in the form of the large diffuser that gets a faux carbon fibre finish.
To sum it all up, the new fifth-generation Honda City is quite a stunning car to behold, and Honda has been wise in retaining most of the design and styling on the new e:HEV.
Cockpit & Interior
Tug on the chunky door handles and open the door, and you are greeted by the pleasant new dual-tone interior. The Ivory and Black interior colour scheme is new and the Ivory leather does make the insides look premium and luxurious. The moment you sit in the driver’s seat, you get the feeling that it is one of the neatest, classiest, and most elegant interiors in the segment.
When you first look at the interior, your attention is drawn to those elements of the interior that are clad with Ivory leather. This includes a portion of the door panel where the elbows rest, a portion of the dashboard, and a small portion of both sides of the centre console. The rest of the interior is finished in hard plastics.
Right in front of the driver is the leather-clad steering wheel that feels nice and chunky. Honda has always made some of the best steering wheels in the business and the City e:HEV is no different. You do get mounted controls for the audio, voice commands, cruise control, and some of the ADAS features. There are dedicated buttons for lane keep assist, and also to control the distance to the vehicle in front for the adaptive cruise control.
Behind the steering wheel is the analogue-digital instrument cluster. The speedometer is in an analogue format and to its left side is a 7.0-inch TFT display that is very informative indeed. It displays a lot of information related to the vehicles including the hybrid drive modes, the power source, the odometer, regen gauge, power usage gauge, range, current fuel consumption, etc.
Also behind the steering wheel are paddle shifters, but these aren’t for the gearbox. More on these paddle shifters in the engine performance and handling section. On the passenger side of the dashboard is a strip of plastic with a wood finish, that lends a premium and luxurious touch to the interior.
Taking centre stage on the dashboard is an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. It also displays all information related to the vehicle and is pretty easy to use. The operation of the infotainment is pretty simple, however, it could be a little more intuitive and better graphics could have been integrated into it.
The Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is wired and a wireless connection for the same is sorely missed. Audio is reproduced through a 6-speaker audio system and it is quite good. Below the infotainment system are the controls for the automatic climate control. An LCD strip displays information like fan speed, temperature, air-flow direction, etc. The knobs for the ACC control look elegant and feel nice to operate thanks to the aluminium rings on it.
The centre console has been raised slightly when compared to the standard model and it features two cup holders, two slots to place your mobile phone, the gear lever, and the electronic parking brake. An important feature that is missing here is a wireless smartphone charging pad.
Practicality, Comfort & Boot Space
Since the very first generation, the Honda City has always been a practical sedan. Over the years and the new generations, new technologies have been implemented but the practicality has been retained. In fact, they have become more practical and comfortable over the years.
The new Honda City e:HEV features lots of cubbyholes for storage. The door pockets can accommodate a 1-litre bottle and then some more. The armrest in the centre console also opens up to reveal a small cubbyhole wide enough for something like a wallet.
The seats are amongst the most comfortable ones in this segment and it is easy to see just why. The front seats have a nice feel to it and are extremely comfortable. The bolstering and the thigh support makes each drive very comfortable.
The rear seats take this comfortable feeling to the next level. You don’t sit on the seat but sit inside it, giving you a cocooned feel. Leg room, knee room, and head room are all excellent and you struggle to find something wrong with the rear seat.
Passengers at the rear also get other comforts like centre console-mounted rear AC vents, two 12V charger slots, and a fold-down armrest with cupholders. The Honda City has never lacked when it comes to boot space. However, in the e:HEV, the story is different.
The boot can be unlocked through a latch on the side of the driver’s seat, through a request sensor on the boot, or through a button on the key fob. Open the boot and you are in for a surprise. The boot space is considerably lower than the standard City.
The reason for this is made known the moment you lift the floorboard. Underneath it is some storage space, the spare wheel, the tool kit and the large battery pack. Yes, the lithium-ion battery pack used in the hybrid powertrain is located in the boot. As a result, the boot space has decreased by nearly 200 litres. The boot space now stands at around 306 litres.
Engine Performance, Hybrid Drivetrain & Driving Impressions
The Honda City has always been an extremely impressive car when it comes to the engine and drivetrain and the new hybrid too is just superb in its own, environment-friendly way. It is quite revolutionary in many ways.
The Honda City e:HEV is powered by a 1.5-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine in conjunction with two electric motors and a Lithium-Ion battery. It boasts a combined output of 126bhp and 253Nm. This drivetrain system allows for the Honda City to have multiple drive modes and the car switches between them automatically and seamlessly.
The Honda City e:HEV is capable of functioning as a pure electric vehicle and it is in this mode by default when in stop-and-go traffic. The ‘EV’ indication appears on the instrument cluster and it is quite simple to drive in the EV mode. Slot the gear lever into D or B mode and let go of the brake lever, and the Honda City e:HEV crawls forward without the slightest hesitation. Prod on the throttle though, and the EV mode disappears, giving way to the hybrid mode.
The Honda City e:HEV is a strong hybrid and it uses the Hybrid Drive while puttering around town at decent speeds. In Hybrid Drive, the petrol engine is active and generates power using the generator-motor. The generated electricity is used to charge the lithium-ion battery pack at the rear and the same battery then powers the electric motor that drives the wheels.
In this drive mode, the electric motor is completely turned off and the clutch is engaged, allowing the engine to drive the front wheels directly via the eCVT gearbox. This drive mode is used at highway speeds or under heavy acceleration.
The vehicle decides which mode is best suited to the current driving conditions and automatically switches to it. The switch is seamless and can’t be felt while driving. The kickdown while switching from Hybrid to Engine drive though is immense and the engine noise is quite audible under hard acceleration.
The primary goal programmed into the vehicle is an increase in efficiency and a decrease in the amount of fuel being used. The decrease in fuel consumption is important enough for Honda to introduce an Atkinson cycle engine.
An Atkinson cycle engine is just like a normal four-stroke engine, with a difference only in the compressions stroke. In a normal four-stroke engine, the piston compresses all of the air and fuel drawn in during the intake stroke.
In an Atkinson cycle, the intake valve is kept open for a bit longer so that the piston will push out some of the fuel and air back into the intake manifold during its upward movement in the compression stroke. As a result, lesser air and fuel is burnt, increasing efficiency. Yes, low-end performance is affected because of this. However, the electric motor in the Honda City Hybrid more than makes up for this.
The Honda City e:HEV also features energy regeneration. This happens when the gear lever is slotted into ‘B’ and this is also where the paddle shifters come into the picture. Instead of shifting gears, the paddle shifters are used to increase or decrease the level of regeneration. The ‘+’ paddle decreases regeneration while the ‘-‘ paddle increases regeneration.
With the Honda City e:HEV, ADAS features have also debuted in this segment. The sedan gets features like Road Departure Mitigation, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, etc. Using these features is a breeze and they work like a charm. Some of these ADAS features require the vehicle to be at a speed of over 72km/h to function.
Handling hasn’t changed a bit and though the rear suspension was tweaked to accommodate the weight of the battery pack, the Honda City e:HEV handles exactly like the standard model. Body roll is in control and the ride is very comfortable.
Using ADAS features on the Honda City e:HEV was a revelation and features like lane keep assist where the vehicle takes a curve on the road by adjusting the steering itself, are definitely among our favourites. We’re certainly looking forward to spend more time with the new Honda City e:HEV.
Safety & Key Features
Honda has laid significant emphasis on the safety aspect of the new City e:HEV. Apart from the ADAS features, it features lots of other safety technologies.
Honda City e:HEV Safety Features:
– Honda Sensing Technologies
– Collision Mitigation Braking System
– Road Mitigation System
– Lane Keep Assist System
– Adaptive Cruise Control
– Auto High-Beam
– Brake Hold
– Six Airbags
– Hill Start Assist
– Vehicle Stability Assist
– Agile Handling Assist
Honda City e:HEV Key Features:
– 8.0-inch Touchscreen Infotainment
– Wired Android Auto & Apple CarPlay
– Six-Speaker Audio System
– LED Lighting
– 7.0-inch TFT Infotainment
– One-Touch Sunroof Operation
Honda City e:HEV Colour Options
The Honda City e:HEV is available only in the top-spec ZX trim and in five colour options.
– Radiant Red Metallic
– Meteoroid Grey Metallic
– Platinum White Pearl
– Lunar Silver Metallic
– Golden Brown Metallic
The Honda City has always been a redefining car. In 1998, when the Honda City was first launched, it brought with it performance and handling unlike any other sedan at the time. Now, nearly 25 years later, the new Honda City eHEV is here with technology and performance unlike any other sedan in the segment.
It’s just that, this one’s not about ‘VTEC kicked in yo’, anymore. It’s more about saving the environment, and trying to drive more in EV or Hybrid Drive modes, and that’s a good thing!