Honda Malaysia launched the all-new 2014 Honda City yesterday. In case you've missed it, here's the link to our earlier story.
Prior to yesterday's launch, LiveLifeDrive.com sat down with the men responsible for the all-new 2014 Honda City - Large Project Leader (Honda's equivalent for a chief engineer) Mr. Kazunori Watanabe (right) and Assistant Large Project Leader Toshikazu Hirose (left) to learn more about the all-new 2014 City.
Fact 1: It is more spacious than a Toyota Camry
Despite sitting two ranks lower, Honda says the B-segment Honda City is actually more spacious than a D-segment Toyota Camry. It may seem hard to believe, but Watanabe was serious about the claim.
"We targeted upper D-segment cabin space and achieved a larger cabin space compared to the Camry. It’s larger than Camry," said Watanabe.
Honda says the City's cabin space is the best in its class.
Its 536-litres boot volume is also the largest in its class. In comparison, the Vios' boot volume is 506-litres while the Almera's is 490-litres.
While it is true that the Nissan Almera also boasts of a similarly long legroom, what sets the City apart from the Almera is its balanced dimensions. Where the Almera is short on shoulder room, the City's cabin is spacious on all areas - legroom, shoulder room and head room.
Somehow Honda is able to free up so much cabin space within a small B-segment's body. Although interior space is now substantially more than before, its body size is only 25 mm longer and 7 mm longer than the previous City. Width remains the same at 1,695 mm.
When asked about how Honda achieved this, Watanabe simply smiled and said "It is Honda magic," explaining that "It is kind of a secret."
Without revealing too much, Watanabe said Honda was able to move the dashboard further forward by re-arranging the components within the engine bay, thus freeing up more space within the cabin. The occupant's hip-point was also moved further back.
While other car companies used thinner seats to improve knee room, Watanabe explained that this was not the route taken by Honda.
"We didn’t change the thickness of the seats. The seat is designed to have good comfort for a long drive," he said.
Fact 2: It is the most fuel-efficient model in its class
Axis on the image above - acceleration and fuel economy is better as axis approaches upper/right direction.
Honda's claimed fuel consumption for the all-new City is 17.56 km/litre (ECE R101, similar to the New European Driving Cycle), the best in its class.
Toyota does not provide any official fuel consumption figures for its Vios. The Nissan Almera is claimed to deliver 14.9 km/litre, but this is based on Nissan's internal testing which may be different from the ECE R101 standards used by Honda.
The Volkswagen Polo Sedan, still the most surefooted fun-to-drive car in its class, delivers 15.3 km/litre under a similar European driving cycle.
Our recent test drive with a Thailand specification Honda City yielded an average fuel consumption of 15.4 km/litre without even trying to drive economically! The figure was achieved with four adults on-board and a lot of full throttle hard acceleration. Many other models would struggle to come close to it even with a lot of effort from the driver.
While we have yet to test drive the local specifications City, we have little doubt about Honda's claim of offering the best-in-class fuel economy.
According to Watanabe, the improvements in fuel economy is achieved by reducing the vehicle's weight (about 30 kg less than before), reducing internal friction within the engine, improved aerodynamics and utilising a more energy efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Interestingly, the CVT features a torque converter clutch within the transmission, which Watanabe says improves the durability of the transmission.
He also explained that this in-house developed all-new Earth Dream series transmission provides not only provides for a better fuel economy, but also better acceleration than the previous model with a 5-speed automatic and other key competitors of the all-new City.
Fact 3: On passive safety, it exceeds NCAP requirements
While most manufacturers design their cars to achieve the highest possible rating in NCAP's (New Car Assessment Programme) crash safety performance, Honda says it looks beyond lab-based NCAP scores to focus on safety in real-world conditions.
As such, the City is designed to meet not just NCAP requirements, but also Honda's internal G-CON standards which are actually even more severe than NCAP's.
NCAP's standard tests involve frontal offset impact, side impact and pole impact tests. Honda however, does an additional rear impact test with a moving barrier hitting the rear of the car (no offset). Measurements are then done on the intrusion into the rear seats.
NCAP's tests involved only a single vehicle, but Honda's G-CON standard crash tests are done involving larger cars like an SUV or a large sedan, at various angles, not just the usual direct or perpendicular direction conducted by NCAP organizations.
"When we have a crash against a larger model, there is a high possibility that the smaller car will be crushed.
"When the City crashes into a larger car, this test showed that the cabin space is maintained."
Elaborating on the City's G-CON body structure, Watanabe said "There are some items that are exceeding the NCAP requirement margins. So it is actually complying with higher requirements in certain aspects.
"We can call it a G-CON body because it has gone through severe requirements compliance. Internal test requirements of Honda are higher than NCAP’s, which is why we can call our car a G-CON body."
Being a recently launched model, it will still be sometime before the all-new City is tested by NCAP organisations in ASEAN and Australia, where the model is sold. However, Honda's own internal tests show that the model is capable of achieving the maximum five-star.
Of course this is only applicable for E and V grade models that are come with VSA. Electronic stability control or VSA in Honda's terminology are a compulsory feature for a five-star rating by any NCAP organisation, including Euro NCAP, ASEAN NCAP and ANCAP.
So is the Honda City a perfect car? Well there is no such thing as a perfect car. Whether is the all-new City a good purchase for you or not that depends on what are you looking for in a car. Check our quick review of the Honda City in Thailand to find out more. The following articles may also help you decide better.
9 Tips for choosing the best car for you
Guide to choosing a safe car