Honda launches the all-new City in India

When Honda unveiled the all-new fourth-generation City last November, it was evident that the Japanese manufacturer has adopted a conservative approach this time around. That's a clear departure from the revolutionary shocks that Honda had in store for the three previous generations of the City. With Hyundai going all guns blazing with the Verna and Volkswagen close on its heels with the Vento-Rapid siblings, it is clear that Honda is playing it safe to regain its lost crown in the midsize segment. After all, this is a segment that the Honda City ruled for more than a decade until Verna displaced it from the top in 2011.

Well, Honda is back with vigor, and how! The all-new City is available in five variants - E, S, SV, V and VX. Each of these variants come with the option of either a 1.5-liter petrol engine or a 1.5-liter diesel engine. Additionally, automatic transmission is being offered in the petrol SV and VX variants. That makes it a whopping 12 variants on offer.

Learning from its disastrous 'premium' positioning of the Jazz earlier, it has to be said that Honda has priced the City competitively, especially the petrol variants. The petrol variants with manual transmission are priced between INR 7.42 Lakhs and INR 9.93 Lakhs, while the two automatic transmission variants retail for INR 9.49 Lakhs and INR 10.98 Lakhs respectively. While the base diesel variant is priced at INR 8.62 Lakhs, the top-end VX diesel retails at INR 11.10 Lakhs. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi. That puts the City bang on target to challenge the likes of Verna, Vento, Rapid and Fiesta.

The petrol engine is the popular 1.5-liter, SOHC, i-VTEC mill that churns out 119 PS of power at 6600 rpm and 145 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. Known for its refinement and smoothness, the City petrol is officially rated at 18 km/l for the automatic variant and 17.8 km/l for the manual variant. The 1.5-liter, DOHC, i-DTEC 'Earth Dreams' diesel engine that made its debut under the hood of the Amaze is the other new weapon in City's arsenal. Generating 100 PS of power at 3600 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm, the City diesel boasts an ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 26 km/l, making it the most fuel-efficient car in India.

Honda has always been a miser when it comes to loading its cars with features, but the new City might make us change that opinion. A driver airbag, Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), power steering with tilt adjustment, power windows and electric mirrors are available as standard across the City range. The top-end VX variant comes loaded with goodies that include a passenger airbag, sunroof, leather upholstery, automatic air-conditioning system with a touch-screen control panel, rear air-conditioning vents, cruise control, audio system with a five inch screen, bluetooth telephony and a rear camera with three view options. The City customers sure aren't going to be disappointed this time around.

At such reasonable price levels, loaded with features that it has and armed with a powerful petrol and a frugal diesel engine, the new City has all the makings of a winner. India is the first market in the world where the new City went on sale and Indians have responded well with the model managing to garner 9000 pre-launch bookings. Yes, it doesn't look all-new, shows a lot of resemblance to the previous generation model that debuted in 2008 and the chrome grille in the top variants look tacky, but that's not going to stop the car from selling well. Verna is in for some trouble and it is time for Hyundai to put on its thinking caps.

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