In 1996, Honda Cars Philippines introduced the City, breaking new ground in what is to become the popular subcompact-sedan segment. The goal was to offer an affordable alternative, but the little runabout quickly became something more than that. This was a model unique on its own, with exceptional features never seen in this class.
Over five generations as a subcompact sedan in the Southeast Asian market, the City has evolved, becoming more premium and more advanced than ever. As a result, it established a strong foothold in the market. What was meant to be a first car for small families also attracted yuppies and Honda fanboys.
But at a time where consumers are being swayed by affordable crossovers, there is now a challenge of making the sedan still relevant. Interior space and ground clearance are valid arguments, but there are still compelling reasons that favor the City over the new crop of small SUVs.
For one, there is the driving experience. The City’s low center of gravity means it remains stable even when cornering hard. Drivers will have much more confidence taking turns at speed, aided by the vehicle’s stability control system when it starts to reach its limits. Crossovers may claim to have sporty handling, but the City shows that the proof really is in the pudding.
One can really maximize the available output of the sprightly 1.5-liter engine. With Honda’s proprietary i-VTEC technology, it produces a healthy 119hp and 145Nm. Mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT, all that power is put to good use thanks to a lower curb weight than a typical crossover. And speaking of lower weights, it’s one reason why the City can sip fuel to the tune of 25.17km/L on the highway.
Casual observers might think that a typical sedan these days is sparsely equipped. But the City has that covered with its high-tech eight-inch touchscreen that supports integration for Apple and Android devices. Even the reversing camera has various viewing angles, making parking less of a hassle. The range-topping RS pampers its rear passengers with air-conditioning vents and additional charging ports.
There isn’t even a shortage of cargo space in the City. The trunk has a cavernous 519L. But when it comes to flexibility, nothing beats the City Hatchback. Starting from 289L, the ULTR rear seats can be configured in a number of ways, and cargo volume can be increased to 841L. Try looking for a crossover that offers such an adaptable cabin.
And lastly, there is the pedigree. Crossovers these days routinely have price tags below P1 million, which understandably makes them attractive. But these models have yet to prove themselves in the long run, and car ownership in the Philippines will surely put them to the real test.
On the other hand, nothing can really match the track record of the City. Its 25 years of existence have painted a solid picture of its value, quality, and engineering. You definitely cannot put a price on that.
For more information about the Honda City, visit this website.
This branded article was produced in partnership with Honda Cars Philippines.