2009 Honda City VTi Review & Road Test
The next BIG thing in family motoring?
- 2009 Honda City VTi, 1.5-litre, five-speed manual, sedan - $20,490 (RRP)
- Metallic Paint $325
- by Matt Brogan
At only 116mm longer and 32mm wider than the new Honda City the arithmetic proves just how much the family car has since ballooned, and that what we now consider a small sedan, in reality, isn't.
While it seems bigger is better to most people, quite often the exterior dimensions of a vehicle only tell part of the tale, and it's this perception of 'size equals space' that the new Honda City has turned on its head.
Though it is a reasonably compact affair, the City is one small car that shows rather obviously just how much space can be availed with some intelligent design work.
Surprisingly it is this inner-space that proves remarkably generous, especially in terms of boot capacity and rear leg room which are 10 litres (506/496 litres) and 97mm (1064/972mm) greater than Commodore and Camry respectively.
Styling wise the City looks much like its bigger brother the Accord Euro at first glance, though being based upon Jazz underpinings, the smaller outward scale of the car is certainly evident.
Inside the layout is simple, but rather stylish, with a mix of textures, forms and tone all contributing greatly to a decor that appears more elegant than the price tag would have you believe.
Layout and switchgear are both simplistic and easy to understand and in typical Honda style the City boasts a user-friendliness that is second to none.
Perhaps my only gripe with the cabin as a whole is that the driver's seat position is unusually high. The risers in the floor on which the seat is mounted, a left-over from the more upright Jazz, counter the more raked windscreen with the resulting headroom being a little tighter than is preferable, something the seat adjustment can't quite seem to counter.
All the same the seating is very comfortable and reasonably supportive. The legroom is quite generous, especially in the rear, and the ambiance quiet on all but the most coarse of roads, a pleasant surprise in a category not usually renowned for its on-road refinement.
Under the large bonnet a small yet capable 1.5-litre, SOHC, 16-valve, i-VTEC, four-cylinder engine manages 88kW at 6600rpm and 145Nm at 4800rpm to provide spirited performance in all but the most trying of situations.
Zero to 100km/h times come in just under the 12 second mark and unless the car is heavily loaded, say with four adults and a boot full of luggage, big hills are of little consequence to City's performance proving just how well matched the torque curve is to the smooth shifting five-speed gearbox.
Freeway revs come in at just a whisker under 3000rpm at 100km/h, which combined with drive-by-wire throttle and programmed fuel injection mean excellent fuel consumption.
Around town our week managed 7.9-litres per 100km while on the open road mid-fives were easily achievable. In all seven days in the City returned an average consumption figure of 6.7-litres per 100km, which is just under half a litre more than the claimed ADR result.
Although initial turn-in is a little slow, the chassis reacts well thereafter meaning cornering is both fluid and settled. Handling as a result is well above average for a car of this class and size, and is actually somewhat surprising once you gain a feel for the car, especially so given the dated torsion beam rear-end, there is a strut arrangement at the front.
The electric power steering too provides a true, albeit rather light, feel to the front wheels, though the urethane steering wheel is a bit of a let down being a touch unpleasant of long trips and hot days.
With air-conditioning, cloth trim, cruise control, MP3 compatible CD/tuner (with iPod integration), power mirrors and windows, remote central locking (with alarm and immobiliser), seven cup holders, rear under-seat storage, tilt-adjustable steering column and trip computer the City certainly does present a lot of kit in base model form.
Safety features include dual front, side and full length curtain airbags, ABS, EBA and EBD meaning the City is certain to perform well once ANCAP testing is carried out - though perhaps not as well as it should given the lack of Electronic Stability Program (ESP) anywhere in the model range.
As touched on earlier the boot space is TARDIS-like at 506 litres, and with 60:40 split fold rear seats the additional area is quite welcomed when hauling odd shaped items, even if the aperture is a little on the tight side.
While the pricing may be just a touch on the heavy side, the practicality, purpose and presentation of the all-new City remain unchallenged in this category which all adds up to a very good argument for considering the City as your next family car.
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