In Thailand, Honda has very recently swiped the covers off the 7th-generation City, the small saloon sibling to the endlessly practical Jazz hatch. Speaking of which, the term ‘all-new’ is something of a misnomer in this case as it isn’t based on the radically new Jazz first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Instead, think of this City as a heavily revised version of the existing car with a new interior and powertrain as well as an exterior design much more reflective of its larger four-door stablemates within the Honda line-up. This new City serves up a noticeably more modern package to the markets it excels in, explaining its high profile debut in Southeast Asia.
It shares its underpinnings and similar dimensions with the 6th-generation City but can easily boast about nearly every other aspect. Honda has sought to improve upon a class-leader in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines, doing so in some very welcome albeit predictable ways.
At the front end, the influence imparted by the 10th-generation Civic is made very clear with narrower full LED headlights joined by a gloss black (or silver) solid centrepiece/grille combo. There’s also a noticeable forward hump to the bonnet’s profile, again mimicking the Civic.
The overall shape has been altered but not dramatically so and this is most noticeable with the car’s midsection design which is rather standard-fare visually, though this newer car is longer, wider, and lower compared to the outgoing model. In the sportier RS trim, there are touches such as black contrasting wing mirrors and larger alloy wheels teamed to other black exterior add-ons.
The headline feature of the new City is the engine, which in this case replaces the naturally aspirated 1.5-litre i-VTEC unit with a gutsier yet more efficient 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged unit. It produces 91kW and 173Nm, which on paper isn’t a great deal more than the four pot it replaces. Crucially however, peak torque is delivered at just 2,000rpm and sustained to 4,500rpm for relatively effortless urban motoring.
As before, power reaches the front wheels via Honda’s Earth Dreams CVT with 7 virtual ratios to continually optimise fuel consumption, which is quoted at 4.2-litres/100km. Honda says that reducing NVH levels and increase ride refinement was also a high priority. Improving upon the already excellent interior packaging is important as well, though the current model was already rivalling full size saloons in areas such as rear legroom and boot capacity.
The interior is a mix of the old and new. While the door panels do not seem to have changed in the slightest, the dashboard does address the criticisms against its general HVAC and infotainment stack layout. For one, the vague touch-sensitive climate control buttons are replaced by far superior rotary knobs with a small companion display.
Secondly, the new City ditches the aftermarket inbuilt touchscreen head unit of old and replaces it with a 7-inch Android-based system that looks much better resolved within the dashboard. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, just like the Civic. Additionally, a 12V power outlet and two USB connectors are placed further up for easier reach next to little cubby to leave your smartphone.
For its Thai market premiere, Honda has detailed two variants: S and RS. Between them, new-for-the-model features include standard Hill Start Assist and a Rear View Camera, though these are expected to be quickly improved upon with overlaps from the Honda Sensing active safety suite.