Yesterday morning, we were invited to the Sepang International Circuit to have a look at (and drive of) the newest car from Honda Malaysia: the highly anticipated 2022 City Hatchback, in its hybrid RS e:HEV and petrol-powered 1.5V guise.
The event began with the usual briefing before heading out onto the track, preceded by a quick splash and dash breakfast. Admittedly, this isn’t the ideal place to put an urban-oriented hatchback through its paces, but it did at least make for a very smooth drive session without any traffic interruptions. Also, privacy...
Our first peek at the 2022 City Hatchback came even before registering our arrival as that dark grey RS unit sat just before the door to the south track’s upstairs paddock lounge. That colour's called Meteoroid Steel Metallic, if you’re interested.
The cars we’d be driving were being prepared below us: one in RS e:HEV spec in a new shade called Ignite Red Metallic, and the other a more conventional 1.5V in Platinum White Pearl. As far as first impressions went, the abundance of photographs of the 2022 City Hatchback from its earlier launches in neighbouring ASEAN markets coupled with the established familiarity of the City sedan meant our reactions were somewhat flat.
We knew what to expect, and saw exactly that. Objectively, it’s a handsome enough car, especially in that dark grey, and for 85 percent of the exterior, you could be convinced you’re looking at the four-door introduced last year.
Dimensionally, it’s also known that the hatch differs slightly from its four-door twin, being 20mm taller (to better match the Jazz) and 208mm shorter end to end. The wheelbase has also been reduced slightly to 2,589mm, down from the sedan's 2,600mm.
The hatchback body style hasn’t detracted from the City’s looks, and it in fact wears that shape quite naturally as if it were designed as a 5-door from the start. As a replacement for the Jazz, it certainly cuts a sharper dash, trying its hardest to shed that ‘cutesy' persona that its spiritual predecessor held with its rounded features and Pikachu-like profile - or is that the Myvi 1.5 Extreme?
As we do not have the car’s full spec sheet to contrast against the sedan, we’ll take a stab and state that there were very little to no obvious differences in equipment or cosmetics - well, apart from that rear-end design.
On the RS that was shown prominently, LED headlamps, LED fog lights, and 16-inch two-tone alloys featured (the 1.5V gets a uniform silver finish), just like the sedan, wearing Toyo Proxes R57 tyres, and the same applied to its gloss black side mirror caps, front grille garnish with honeycomb mesh, as well as the faux carbon-fibre weave front lip and rear ‘diffuser’ element.
Inside, every City Hatchback gets Honda's famous Ultra Seats, just like the outgoing Jazz. This allows the rear cushions and seatbacks to be folded and arranged in multiple ways - Long, Tall, Utility, and Refresh modes - to better accommodate different types of cargo or just make the cabin as spacious as possible to relax in.
The majority of the interior images are embargoed, so you'll have to take our word for it. Cheers!
This is the sedan ya ;)
With regard to the interior materials and finishing, again, very little came across as appreciably different when contrasted against our experience with the sedan. At the centre of the dash, both variants previewed receive an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display with support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto through a wired USB connection.
The same goes for what’s under their respective bonnets. All 2022 City Hatchbacks powered only by petrol get the same 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC naturally aspirated four-cylinder, producing 121PS and 145Nm. Meanwhile, the RS gains the i-MMD hybrid drivetrain, which allies a 98PS 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle four-pot to a pair of electric motors, capable of delivering a 109PS and 253Nm of torque to the front wheels.
Driving both cars also felt like an exercise in deja vu, but that’s what is to be expected when trying to pick apart two versions of the same car. Both the 2022 RS e:HEV and 1.5V hatch felt as good to drive as the sedan. Apparently, this 5-door body style gains improved rigidity as well, which is nice to know.
We’re not sure what the full spread of variants will be at launch, which Honda Malaysia says is “very soon”, but we can be sure that the RS will get a full complement of the company's SENSING active safety features, including Collision Mitigation Braking System (or…Autonomous Emergency Braking, AEB), Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Automatic High Beam, and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Worth noting is the absence of the SENSING suite in the white 1.5V variant we previewed, which might mean that, unlike the sedan, these features could be exclusive to the RS e:HEV.
Honestly, we had little time to both drive and poke around the car to gather enough information for more worthwhile insights. So far, however, though we might mourn its departure, the legacy of the Jazz seems to be in good hands with the new 2022 City Hatchback. At least if and until Honda decide to offer the more advanced 4th-generation Jazz to our shores.