HONDA Cars Phils. Inc. (HCPI) last week launched the fourth generation of the Honda City—the company’s best-selling model—with the local Honda arm’s leadership banking on the new car to boost its performance in the second half of the year.
The new City, which carries a futuristic concept, is aptly billed to “Touch Tomorrow.”
At the car’s launch, HCPI President and General Manager Toshio Kuwahara said the City nameplate has been embraced by Filipino customers since the first generation reached the country’s shores in 1996. The HCPI chief added the introduction of the new City “embodies Honda’s immediate response to the growing demand for automobiles in the Asian market.”
“Throughout the years, the City’s overall value for money package gained worldwide market acceptance as it came loaded with innovative, functional features while keeping maintenance and fuel consumption costs low. Such key strengths have enabled its market to spawn beyond Asia, and reaching even Africa, the Middle East and the European regions,” Kuwahara said.
To date, HCPI has sold more than 83,500 City models in the country.
Kuwahara noted that upon the launch of the third-generation City in 2009, the model sold 40,000 units, gaining a strong foothold in the B-segment.
HCPI launched four variants of the new City, all powered by a 1.5-liter engine; the VX+, VX and E with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and the E with a manual transmission.
The new City is built at HCPI’s plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna—the only Honda car model assembled locally. It now has features that were once available only on higher models. These include a push-button starting function for the engine, and a large touch-screen panel for the audio and climate control operations.
It is also equipped with USB and HDMI ports that connect to smart phones. On the higher variants, three accessory sockets are available in front and in the rear for hassle-free gadget charging.
The new City is now equipped with Honda’s ECO Assist system, which has an Econ mode that controls the engine’s drive-by-wire throttle, and transmission and air-conditioning performance to improve fuel consumption. An Eco coaching ambient light that promotes more fuel-efficient driving habits, accomplished by a light that glows green when the throttle input is light and glows blue when throttle input is heavy, is also part of the system.
Although retaining its compact size outside, the new City’s interior has gained substantial head, shoulder and knee room, as well as gaining leg room, that are comparable to some midsize sedans. Its trunk space has also grown.
The new City is powered by a 1.5 liter i-VTEC engine that makes 118hp at 6,600rpm and 145Nm of torque at 4,800rpm. It is mated to either a five-speed manual gearbox or the new seven-speed CVT with paddle shifters, which was developed under Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology.
The new City’s aesthetics have also been improved and now bear Honda’s new H-design that represents three key elements—High Tech (innovative spirit), High Tension (pursuit of a beautiful body structure and layout) and High Touch (finely honed surfacing and texture), that focus on an overall pleasing human experience. The car now has a sleeker front and a dynamic side, giving it a more aerodynamic, stylish and sporty look.
HCPI prices the new City E MT at P756,000; the E CVT at P796,000; the VX CVT at P880,000; and the VX+ CVT at P970,000. Colors available are Gold Brown Metallic (for the VX+ and VX), Carnelian Red Pearl (for the VX and E CVT), Modern Steel Metallic, Crystal Black Pearl (except for the VX+) and Taffeta White. The car is also offered in two Modulo variants: E Modulo Utility and VX Aero Sports.
Hajime Furuya, president of Honda Access Asia and Oceania Co. Ltd., said that the company has reduced the prices of Modulo accessories for the new City (like the aero parts) by more than a quarter of their original prices.
“When looking at the development and cost-down activity that we have done on the new aero parts for the new Honda City, we achieved about a 30-percent decrease in retail prices. In terms of design, we also have a certain degree of confidence that our products can appeal to the market,” he said.
The Mugen variant of the City—which was also previewed during the launch—will be available in the market during the second half of 2014, Kuwahara revealed.
The E CVT Modulo Utility variant, which has a special grille, door visor, trunk tray, seatback holder, tablet holder, door side protector, trunk cargo hook and Modulo emblems, is priced of P821,000. The VX Aero Sports, which has a unique grille, under spoiler, side under spoiler, rear under spoiler, wing-type tailgate spoiler, illuminated side step garnish and Modulo emblems costs P935,000.