Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Test drive - Honda City (E).

Had the car for a couple of days and I must say, I've grown a certain attachment to it.

The 5th generation Honda City is really 'substantial', if I had to find a word to label it. The car felt a little heavier than Vios but it doesn't feel 'draggy' when it runs. Vios' torque kicks in at a slightly lower rpm than the City (141Nm at 4,200 compared to 145Nm at 4,800), so it does feel sprintier and makes an easier drive in the city than the City (can't believe I made that pun). But anyway, the City doesn't lose out on power at all. It takes a bit of time to build up but it will definitely, definitely outrun a Vios (City reaches class leading power of 120PS at 6,600).

Took a drive up to Genting Highlands and it wasn't my first time negotiating corners and bends uphill and downhill with the City, yet the car still surprises me. It felt a lot more go-cart-ish than other comparative models, as it handles the road really well. I mean if that's your version of fun driving; negotiating bends downhill at 100km/h, then all I'm saying is the City can do that. Just make sure you've got the right tyres. The way the City hugs the road is pretty amazing since I really didn't expect that from a 1.5 compact sedan and that ability really brings out the element of Honda's DNA of fun driving. I guess lowering the car 45mm compared to the previous generation model helps a lot in maintaining composure during bends, without compromising on headroom and interior space. Again, let me clarify - DO NOT COMPARE TO ANYTHING MORE THAN RM100k (sorry, just have to set the record straight ;).

In terms of cabin experience, the advanced audio system really does make a difference when you're pumping hits from your iPod while cruising (or stuck in a centipede jam for that matter). Although some people may complain that they feel 'bumpy' (and they blame it on poor cabin insulation), I really beg to differ. The City definitely has tighter steering and harder suspension so yes, you do feel the road a lot more than a Vios because I think that is what that differentiates a driver from a passenger car.

I felt a lot more confidence when driving the City especially during pick up and braking, though sometimes, if you're the kind who likes to manouvre in between cars and tight lanes, it's probably not as nimble compared to Vios (but hey, there is a huge difference between speed and recklessness yea). The only thing which kind of raise my eyebrow a little is the absence of the central auto-locking system. Initially, I thought it isn't a big issue since the first thing most of us do when we get into the car, is to lock it. But I realised that I kept forgetting to lock it and when I did, it doesn't unlock automatically when I pull the door latch. Now, Vios does that and I thought in retrospect, that's a pretty neat touch. However, having said that, I don't think it's something which you cannot get used to, nor decide whether or not to purchase the car. So. Well. You get some, you give some. Personally, I'd definitely go for the looker, central auto-locking system or no.

All in all, I would understand why ladies would prefer a Vios because in terms of comfort, although the cabin space is smaller, you do get that comfortable bubble wrap feeling because of the soft suspension and cushy fabric seats and if you really take care of your wheels, the cabin insulation can be maintained so that you don't feel and hear the road so much. The steering is lighter therefore easier to zip around town and manouvre into parking spots but you can forget about hitting the road at high speed (I've done that before, and yes, the backside starts to wobble at 140km/h). But do the same thing in a City and you'd appreciate the stability of the vehicle even at 160km/h and that is how vehicles in this category in these times, should behave.

In a nutshell, if you're a 'passenger' driver, then pick the Vios because the centre speedometer (something which I still don't get) definitely gets your passengers to play cops, auto-regulating your speed behavior. But if you're a 'driver' driver, then go ahead, feel the road, get personal with speed, and get a City. But then again. That's just my opinion. I could be biased ;)

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