Fluidic Verna faces acid test : A closer look at the new Honda City



The Amaze maybe the best thing to have happened to Honda in the last 5 years and in the coming years there would be other more significant products to hit the roads but the City will always hold an important emotional position. Almost like first love.

And there are reasons galore for that. It will not be unfair to say that the City made Honda what it is today — a company that is synonymous with quality and clutter breaking design. An image that many other companies like Volkswagen, Skoda, Hyundai and Nissan would like to have.

It has been a 15 year long story of almost unabated success. Designed in 1996 taking into consideration the preference of the South Asian markets for cars smaller than the Civic, the City’s clout and success in India has been unrivaled. In short City found a ready market in India, which accounts for 4.3 lakh of its global tally of 22 lakh sales, next only to Thailand.

A large chunk of City’s success is due to the radical makeovers Honda has given it every 5 years. From the first to the second and then to the third, the change in design language has been so substantial that it dwarfs the life cycle roll overs in some other cars. In fact City’s dominance forced Hyundai to go for a complete makeover of the Verna.

All this while it played with traditional market dynamics that says you don’t fiddle around with a popular product. The first generation City was in great demand when Honda decided to launch the 2nd generation in 2003. And it was deja vu in 2008 as well. On each of these occasions, the brand has only become stronger.

The introduction of the 4th generation of City however is of even greater significance. Despite all its success, it is no longer the king of the mid size sedan segment but one that is trying to wrest the initiative from Verna. And it finally comes with a diesel engine — borrowing the same cylinder head that has worked magic for the Amaze.

The expectations then were high and when Honda unveiled the car on Monday it looked underwhelming at the first glance. Rather anti climatic. The new car doesn’t look that new after all and there are tell tale signs of where it was coming from.

From the front, it is actually very similar to the outgoing version barring the broader strip of chrome on the grille and sleeker headlamps. The dimensions too remains largely the same. The rear end gets more treatment with wrap around tail lamp cluster that flows into the boot lid. But it does not look path breaking and there is a sense of having seen bits and parts of it in some car or the other.

A lot of work has been done inside too and thanks to a larger wheelbase space is generous. Honda claims rear legroom is so good that it can be compared with cars a segment above. The dashboard and instrument cluster have also been redone. I always liked the quality and simplicity of the dashboard in the current City but in the new one it looks more funky.

And at long last, it is loaded with equipment which is critical as Hyundai is a master at freebies. So the new City gets touch screen multimedia interface, rear air con vents, key-less push button start and reverse parking camera.

It comes with the same 1.5 litre 4 cylinder iVtec petrol engine which at 118 ps power is still the benchmark in the segment. The City still commands an eye popping 67% share of all petrol sedans sold in the country. That percentage is here to stay with them.

And like I mentioned there will be the 1.5 litre iDtec diesel engine from the Amaze which would be marginally bumped up for higher power and with it a little compromise on the fuel economy. It should still be the most frugal in its category. The success of this version will decide the potency of Honda’s counter attack on Hyundai.

How well the car really is, I will only know when I drive it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. For now, enjoy the aesthetics of the new City. For all that it is worth, Hyundai should better watch out. Verna’s days at the top may well be numbered.

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  • Anonymous

    I hate both BSP and SP but not more than Congress..so I pray to god that SP or BSP come back to power in 2012..because if congress comes back to power, UP will go back in time by 30 years…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bappam Bappa Mukherjee

    SA wrote: “Question today is which party can give good governance in UP?” Unfortunately, good governance is not a priority for any of the political parties in UP where they exploit religion and caste affiliations to divide and mobilize voters. Things have gotten so bad that the venality of candidates is generally not enough to disqualify them from running for office. An ex-IAS officer of the UP cadre, Mr. P.L. Punia is a classic example. He was known as an acolyte of Mayawati during her earlier reign and her Mr moneybags. Any impartial investigation into his assets under the Prevention of Corruption Act would land this man behind bars. Instead, he trots around as a leader of the Scheduled Castes by the Congress and nobody thinks to inquire into his background. This lack of alternatives is the problem that is eating into the vitals of Indian democracy. Just because he has won an election, we are supposed to respect people like him. Anna Hazare’s movement has launched a bold experiment to intervene in this process as veto players where they vet candidates based on their position on the Lok Pal bill like pressure groups in the US. For example, the Americans for Tax Reform has ensured that most Republicans running for elective office sign a pledge not to raise taxes. This is just the beginning.

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  • http://twitter.com/amishra77 Akhilesh Mishra

    That a “sea” city like Mumbai has taken almost 20 years to wean you away from the love of the mountains is a testament to the shockingly abysmal condition of most of the beaches in Mumbai. I actually cry every time I see them, especially the Juhu beach, presumably the creme dela creme.

    However, should you choose sanyas in say Goa or Andamans or Pondichery, then do let some of the bhakts know so that we can have darshan once a while :)

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  • http://twitter.com/amishra77 Akhilesh Mishra

    That a “sea” city like Mumbai has taken almost 20 years to wean you away from the love of the mountains is a testament to the shockingly abysmal condition of most of the beaches in Mumbai. I actually cry every time I see them, especially the Juhu beach, presumably the creme dela creme.

    However, should you choose sanyas in say Goa or Andamans or Pondichery, then do let some of the bhakts know so that we can have darshan once a while :)

    Akhilesh

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  • Kushal

    It’ll more likely be Hong Kong, Akhilesh.It was on a trip to HK in 2004 from deadly dry Delhi that I realised how much I loved the sea.

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  • Parmanu

    This reminded me of our walk along the Marine drive, that lovely evening in Jan 2010.

    I’ve never lived by the sea, but I’m certain that I’ll love it. For precisely the reasons you outline.

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    Kushal Reply:

    Yep, you get it, Parmanu. Grin.

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  • Anamika

    You cannot…you must not do that

    Not after sharing those amazing bookstores….

    Retire to one of those. I’m sure they’ll take a bookophile (is there word like that?) very gladly as one of their permanent residents :)

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    Kushal Reply:

    Well… *Weakens*… Maybe I can be a sanyasi by the sea with a bookstore?

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_URSXATBEMZ7HUAB3OH36PLYWDM Ashok

    How else would someone get an education, except by reading a book ?

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  • Aleena

    Why are lahoris and Karachitees going against each other? Please stop. we all belong to one country, which is Pakistan and lets just appreciate what we have and work towards a better future. In addition, I personally feel both cities are beautiful and have their own perks and downfalls like any other place in the world. And just because our families are from one city it doesn’t mean we have the right to bash other cities of Pakistan.

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  • AG

    “…..But most people in Karachi are like me and you…….. They drink Vodka, snort cocaine and hook up sex dates on the Internet.
    !!!! Excuse me, have you realized what a minute percentage of people do this compared to the population of karachi! Certainly that’s not the description of “most people”.

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  • Santosh Krishnapillai

    we are having the 2011 version and its such a lovely car. good to hear that diesel version is down the line

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