Cars > Driven

Honda City V: Familiar past and present territories

A casual assessment by a subcompact enthusiast of the Japanese brand

A decade of living with a City unexpectedly led to this comparison. PHOTO BY JUSTIN YOUNG

The seventh-generation GN chassis has been on sale since 2019, and has received a lot of praise from many outlets (including us). But I have yet to see firsthand how it stacks up compared to the Honda Global Small Car platform duo found in my family’s driveway.

My sister drove to college in a 2013 City 1.3 S, which was reliable going to and from Katipunan and staying strong even after a few bumps and scratches (most of which were my fault). Meanwhile, I have daily-driven a secondhand 2012 Jazz 1.5 V from trips to classes on Taft to errands and even media events.

Would the Honda City V be a viable replacement for our current steeds?

Dusk is where its paint job shines. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

The current-generation City introduced a subtle refresh last year, and it doesn’t change anything too drastically compared to its contemporaries like the Almera and the Vios. The front bumper lines are kept clean yet modern with a pointier bottom lip if you can see it from the side. Meanwhile, the rear ditches the vertical reflectors for a typical horizontal type with a black plastic diffuser.

The new color choice, Obsidian Blue Pearl, is a lovely addition only available in the V and RS variants. Its dazzling hue fits perfectly in day and nighttime (and under any lighting, for that matter) conditions, making the golden-hour shoots I’ve done more golden with the contrast.

Honda's L-series engines are still an underrated powerhouse. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

The 1.5-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine produces 119hp and 145Nm, which match the power figures of my Jazz’s single-overhead-cam L15A7 when it was brand-new. The new City’s dual-overhead-cam L15ZF can achieve about 9km/L around the city (pun intended) thanks to the refined CVT. Sadly, you can’t row your own simulated gears in the V.

Honda’s subcompact duo has been well-known as the darlings of the racing crowd, particularly in autocross. Even if it doesn’t look the part, the City V takes the corners like a champ, carrying itself over fast turns like a go-kart. In the real world, the suspension takes in the bumps well, which helped after coming on the heels of the Jetour Ice Cream.

Yes to more physical buttons and climate control knobs. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Sitting inside the City, it feels miles better than the predecessor I’m used to. The eight-inch infotainment system is similar to what I’ve experienced in the HR-V RS Turbo, and it still performs like a charm with its smooth interface and smartphone integration (Android Auto for me).

As mentioned in its facelift’s launch, all City models are now equipped with Honda Sensing as standard, even down to the base S trim. Like its crossover sibling, the road departure and collision mitigation features worked as advertised, saving me from sudden braking moments on the expressways.

Cabin space feels roomier while not changing much in its overall length. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Material-wise, the City V has the right amount of soft feel with the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear selector balanced with the fabric seats and armrests. However, it’s hard to miss the sea of hard plastic around the interior with a single piano-black trim on the front passenger side to remind you of its mid-spec position.

The rear seats offer enough legroom even for my tall driving position, and its headroom feels more open. I also encountered less headbutting from the C-pillar than in the older City. The 519L trunk capacity is plentiful for its size and target audience—obviously larger than its hatchback counterpart, but surprisingly unchanged from its predecessors.

How do you find the current Honda Global Car Platform duo so far? PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

While comparing a 1.3-liter base variant from 2013 to a current 1.5-liter mid-spec example is like apples and oranges, the smooth power delivery, the comfy ride, and the added safety improvements of the new City V are enough reasons to shell out P1,073,000 and switch to a newer platform for maximum comfort and livability.

Would I choose the new kid over our old steed? Absolutely. However, I wouldn’t abandon my baby Jazz just yet due to the lack of paddle shifters that diminishes the fun factor (at least in my opinion). After all, the Honda City is designed to be the perfect daily-errand runabout first.


Engine 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline
Power119hp @ 6,600rpm
Torque145Nm @ 4,300rpm
Dimensions4,580mm x 1,748mm x 1,467mm
Drive layoutFWD
UpsidePotent powertrain. Smooth transmission and suspension work. Gorgeous dark-blue paint job.
DownsideNo paddle shifters kills the fun factor. Rearview camera quality leaves much to be desired.

Justin Young

Justin loves cars of all forms. Molded by motoring TV shows and Internet car culture, he sees the world from a different perspective that not many get to see every day.