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Honda unveils new City light sedan

Australian future uncertain for Honda City as fifth-gen sedan unveiled in Bangkok

26 Nov 2019

HONDA has revealed its fifth-generation City light sedan at the Thailand Motor Expo in Bangkok, introducing a sporty RS variant and debuting the company’s new three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.


The new Thai-built three-box model does not reflect the cutesy shape of its sister car, the Jazz, that was revealed at the Tokyo show in October, nor does it share the hatchback’s innovative split A-pillars that improve visibility.


Honda Australia public relations manager Naomi Rebeschini told GoAuto “the current City will be with us for some time yet” and said it was too soon to confirm local details for the new-generation model.


As reported, whether the new City or Jazz will ever make it to local showrooms remains in contention as light car sales and the value of the Australian dollar continue to decline, eroding the already tight profit margins typical of this segment.


Honda is yet to divulge drivetrain details for the new Jazz but the City reveal was accompanied by much fanfare about its new 1.0-litre engine, providing a pointer as to what may ultimately lurk under each bonnet.


Developing 91kW of power at 5500rpm and 173Nm of torque from 2000-4500rpm, the new 12-valve VTEC Turbo engine is said to deliver “driving performance superior” to the outgoing City’s 1.5-litre engine and “torque equivalent” to a 1.8-litre engine.


Fuel efficiency is claimed to be 4.2 litres per 100 kilometres, equivalent to a CO2 output of 99 grams per kilometre, and the engine can run on an E20 ethanol-petrol blend. It satisfies Euro 5 emissions requirements.


Seven virtual stepped ratios can be selected using paddle-shifters that control the City’s continuously variable automatic transmission, which sends drive to the front wheels.


Among the standard safety equipment are six airbags, electronic stability control, hill-start assist and a multi-angle reversing camera.


Honda claims the new City is the segment’s most spacious. Depending on the variant, it is available with automatic climate control, two-tone leather and a combination of piano-black and chrome trim.


A new 8.0-inch touchscreen media system includes Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring with Siri voice commands and Bluetooth connectivity. There are also multifunction steering wheel buttons and a multimode illuminated trip computer in the instrument panel.


Externally, the new City carries a sharper look with standard projector headlights and LED daytime running lights plus LED tail-light clusters, a shark-fin antenna and chrome grille.


Similar to the HR-V small SUV and Civic small hatch and sedan, the sportier RS variant gets a gloss-black finish for the grille, rear spoiler and door mirrors, a more assertive-looking front bumper and RS badging.


It also gains full LED headlights, LED foglights and turn signals integrated into the electric-folding mirrors.


The RS is exclusively available in Ignite Red paintwork, reflected on the inside by red contrast stitching on the unique leather and suede seats and red illumination for the instrument pack. Wheels are upgraded from the standard 15-inch alloys to 16-inch items.


Cosmetic options available in Thailand will include a boot spoiler, illuminated sill plates, sport pedals, LED foglights, and three types of bodykit. Different alloy wheel designs and integrated ‘drive recorder’ dash cam will also be offered.


In addition to the RS-only Ignite red, exterior colour choices comprise Platinum White Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic and Taffeta White.


Honda showrooms in Thailand will start selling the new City from Christmas Eve before it is rolled out across the Asia and Oceania region, where the model is considered one of the Japanese brand’s most important and has racked up more than 100,000 sales between January and September this year.


According to Honda Motor Company chief officer for regional operations in Asia and Oceania, Masayuki Igarashi, four million City sedans have been sold across 60 countries since the model launched in 1996, with Asia and Oceania accounting for 70 per cent of this volume.


Honda has sold 576 City sedans in Australia to the end of October this year, a decline of 18.1 per cent. It is the third-slowest seller after the Accord large sedan and NSX supercar. For the full year of 2018, City sales were down 11.1 per cent with 837 deliveries recorded.


Overall Honda sales are down 15.2 per cent this year, following a 10.1 per cent upswing in 2018, when the brand sold 51,525 cars in Australia.

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