2014 Honda City Review

It’s probably the best car in its segment, but is the best good enough for what used to be Honda?

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Honda City

Priced from AED57k-66k, for the category in which the Honda City sits, this compact affordable saloon immediately jumps to the head of the class straight out of the box. The sloping pointy front end with the bold grille, jutting chin spoiler, rakish air vents embedded with fogs and honeycomb mesh plastic, all put you in mind of a more upmarket and sportier car.

The propeller-in-motion alloy wheels look reasonably classy and the curve over the front wheel suggests some potency in this obviously still front-wheel drive car. A striking slash across the waist and subtle bulging rear arch all give this little car a bit of style and character.

2014 Honda City

Although squeezing these design elements into the short wheel base do put you in mind of a little puppy waiting for its growth spurt. From the rear it’s a bit arse in the air with that high boot line, though again the lack of girth makes the proportions ungainly.

Video walkaround and verdict

Space, comfort, kit

But whether or not you like it from the outside you’ll appreciate the inside as that’s clearly where a lot of the effort has gone and rightly so. A usefully capacious boot is amplified by split folding rear seats at the back – although the seat base doesn’t lift up in the back, like on the related Jazz.

2014 Honda City

What you do get in the rear though is acres of space for two adult, perhaps even three adults thanks to a relatively flat centre tunnel within a floor that’s lower than the front section – that’s the trick that gives you increased legroom. The sloping roof means that taller people might find head room limited, but otherwise, it has the comfort of a saloon two segments up.

Move to the front and decent room and comfort is a given. What is more welcome at this price point is the well finished, nicely put-together cabin, the quality feel, the executive-class kit, and the utter lack of buttons in place of two sexy black panels (keep a microfiber cleaning cloth in the car, you will get smudges on these).

2014 Honda City

Hit the big red starter button (again the misplaced pretension of sportiness) and the blackness awakens to reveal climate control (yes, climate control not plain old aircon) which, by the way, powers a very effective and powerful a/c you’ll be pleased to hear.

Above that the infotainment presents you with Bluetoothery, personalisation options, trip info and access to a genuinely superb sounding and easy to use entertainment system. This is married to full connectivity not just through the Blue-wireless, but also USB and even HDMI inlets.

2014 Honda City

Economy specialist

The City is obsessed with fuel economy and dedicates two full displays to the cause on the screen telling you how much you are using, how much you used before that, and before that, and how much overall on average – and probably how much you’re going to use if you carry on like that. There’s even a display on the instrument panel giving you instantaneous use indications. I’m surprise it doesn’t sound an audible ‘tut tut!’ if you accelerate too hard.

For it is a genuinely thrifty car – during its tenure with me I got over 450km out of tank which only cost AED60 to fill. Overall I achieved 8.2L/100km – which a lot of cars will claim but few will achieve in the real world, and on one long motorway run, I saw my average drop to an astonishing 5.1L/100km running on cruise control.

2014 Honda City

How does it drives

So far so good then, but how does it go? Well that’s where my creeping admiration for the City hit a road-block. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Let’s say right off that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way this goes, turns and stops.

Once it’s up and way the 118bhp, 1.5-litre four-cylinder pushes it up to a decent pace and can hold it there without too much humming and thrumming, wind noise isn’t too bad, nor is road roar. The ride is actually very good – again it has a big car feel of being settled and smooth rather than being bounced and jiggled about as you’d expect in a small car.

2014 Honda City

In addition to this unexpected refinement, the steering is light and reasonably faithful, the grip is actually pretty sticky with understeer kept in check though not eradicated of course, and the handling is competent. The only area of concern to most drivers will be the high rear back which limits visibility when reversing, so the reversing sensors are a must, the slope of the short front is often hard to place, especially as the City fools you into thinking it’s bigger than it actually is.

But that’s not the biggest problem I have with the City – my issue is the total dilution of the actual driving experience. The steering is numb and lifeless. The CVT gearbox in this car, whilst it has steps to mimic gear ratios and paddle shifts that seem fairly redundant as is the ‘Sports’ mode, is as hateful as most CVTs at this end of the market. It just drones incessantly, drains the excitement out of what isn’t actually a bad power unit, and leaves me uninspired.

2014 Honda City

So, you might ask, would this car be better with a manual transmission? Well it might be a little more engaging, but not much I fear. That’s because the car is simply not set-up to trouble its driver with getting too involved with the process of motoring.

Verdict

The 2014 Honda City is superbly thought out and executed by a product planning and marketing team that knows that customers at this end are looking for a cheap decent looking car, loaded with toys plus a great a/c and stereo, with excellent space and comfort in its feel-good cabin, and which is easy to drive and own.

2014 Honda City

Honda has delivered on every one of those requirements and more. For most people this car is a no-brainer at the money, and even those looking to buy the slightly bigger Civic, which now feels dated and cheap inside by comparison, should look at its little brother instead – get this and save yourself some money.

But for old Honda-fanboys and serial owners like me, someone who remembers how inherently enjoyable Hondas used to be to drive, who gets a kick even today out of borrowing colleague Fraser Martin’s first-gen high-mileage Honda Jazz, it’s tragic that the ‘Power of Dreams’ has apparently been forsaken for the power of consumer demand.

2014 Honda City

The new Honda City is the car you deserve not the car I wanted. You should all go buy one. I’ll hold out for the Type R thanks.

2014 Honda City – The Specs

How much?
DX AED 57,000
LX AED 59,000
EX AED 66,000
Engine: 1.5-litre four cylinder, 118bhp @6600rpm, 470lb ft @ 4200rpm
Transmission: front wheel drive, continuously-variable transmission
Fuel economy: 5.7L/100km (est)
Performance: 0-100kph 10.5 seconds, Top speed 190kph
Weight: 1075kg

Let us know what you think of the new Honda City below

2 responses to “2014 Honda City Review”

  1. Rajeev says:

    Sir, am planning to buy a new car i have two options Nissan Sentra Or Honda City Which One u will prefer

    • admin says:

      [Shahzad] Out of those two I’d say Honda City, but it’s pretty close. I think you should check out and drive both and see which dealer will give you the best package.

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