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The all-new 2020 Honda City for Malaysia will see a price hike, no turbo engine

The all-new 2020 Honda City has just made its global debut in Bangkok yesterday. It comes with a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine.

Prices in Thailand have dropped by around 2 to 10 percent, depending on variant, but that’s mostly because the cleaner emissions 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine now consumes just 4.2-litre/100 km under the UNECE R101 test cycle, with CO2 emissions just under 100 g/km, thus qualifying it for lower excise duties - down from 20 percent in the previous City to 12 percent – under Thailand’s EcoCar II policy.

2020 Honda City Thailand

This new P10A2 engine is currently used in the European market Honda Civic. In other words, it’s not a cheap engine, and it requires clean low sulphur fuel, at least in its optimal European market setting, which sees the engine making 129 PS at 5,500 rpm and 180 Nm at 1,700 – 4,500 rpm.

For Thailand, the engine has been detuned to 122 PS at 5,500 rpm and 173 Nm at 2,000 – 4,500 rpm, mostly because the engine has to be compatible with Thailand’s E20 ethanol-petrol blend fuel. It still meets Euro 5 emission standards.

Will the new turbocharged engine be coming to Malaysia?

Unlikely. Although details have yet to be confirmed for Malaysia, we think the chances of Honda Malaysia introducing the newer engine here is low.

As explained above, the only reason the new, more expensive Euro-specs engine is offered in Thailand is only because Thailand offers tax deductions for low CO2 emissions engines. Without it, the engine is too expensive for developing markets in this region.

Malaysia does not have any measures for CO2 regulations or related tax benefits, mostly because Malaysia can’t even introduce low sulphur Euro 4 petrol as the minimum standard yet, which these low emissions engines need (Euro 4 petrol is now only for RON 97).

We will most probably see the current L15 naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine being carried over to the 2020 Honda City.

That sucks. Is the new engine good?

Yes and no, depending on your expectations. Back in 2015, yours truly had driven a prototype European market Civic with the same engine and the experience was nothing to shout about, at least not in its 2015 form. 

Driving a prototype of the then (2015) yet to introduced 1.0-litre, three-cylinder VTEC Turbo engine

Apart from cleaner emissions, initial driving impressions were rather average. Remember that it’s a three-cylinder engine and although it’s turbocharged, it’s still just a 1.0-litre (122 PS at 5,500 rpm, 173 Nm at 2,000 - 4,500 rpm).

While low-end torque is good and its numbers on paper look good, in the real world it struggles harder to keep up with highway traffic than a larger capacity naturally aspirated, four-cylinder 1.5-litre engine (120 PS at 6,600 rpm, 145 Nm at 4,600 rpm).

The best of the lot is still the City Hybrid with 137 hp (combined engine's and motor's output) and 170 Nm.

Will the all-new 2020 Honda City be more expensive?

Recall that the outgoing generation Honda City was first launched in Malaysia in 2014 with prices ranging RM 75,800 to RM 90,800.

Currently, the Honda City sells for lower, between RM 73,836 to RM 86,983, excluding the Hybrid variant. The lower prices is mostly due to Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEV) incentives.

Prices of the Honda City had actually gone down, thanks to EEV incentives. It was more expensive in 2014 than in 2019.

However, nobody can confirm if EEV incentives will continue in its current form in the years to come.

The new National Automotive Policy is still pending (has been delayed since 2018) and it is unclear if the all-new 2020 Honda City will continue to receive the same incentives.

If we were to revert to pre-EEV era status quo, expect prices to breach past RM 90,000. Remember also that our Ringgit has been performing very poorly against the US Dollar, Thai Baht, and Japanese Yen – all common trading currencies for automotive parts.

Although the Honda City is locally-assembled in Melaka, most of the parts are imported either from Thailand or Japan. The low value of the Ringgit will certainly have an impact on prices, which is reviewed every time a new model is introduced.

When will the 2020 Honda City be launched in Malaysia?

We are guessing mid-2020. The introduction timing was accelerated for Thailand because Thailand’s EcoCar II policy requires eligible models to be introduced by 2019.

All other markets are not expected to introduce the all-new 2020 Honda City so soon.

Should I still buy the current (old) Honda City?

If the dealer is giving you a good deal, why not? Despite its age, the current Honda City is still the best in its class when it comes to fuel efficiency and practicality.

Honda City Hybrid

Honda City Hybrid is the most powerful in its class - 137 hp, 170 Nm. Pity it has just 4 airbags though.

It fits more than a Toyota Vios (but the Vios is quieter than the Honda City) and the fuel sipping City Hybrid – which is the most powerful sedan in this segment - is unlikely to be offered in the next generation model. Will petrol prices go up once the government figures out the implementation of B40/M40 fuel subsidy programme? Maybe.

Thailand models don't have rear A/C but Malaysia ones do. Can't say for sure if the next City will also be this well equipped, with EEV incentives uncertain.

The current Honda City also had higher specifications than the ones sold in Thailand, ours get rear air-conditioning vents, and we are the only country outside of Japan to get the hybrid. With the aforementioned new National Automotive Policy still up in the air, it's hard to say if this will remain.

The current Honda City has also proven to be reliable (which is hard to say for any newly introduced engine) and comes with all the necessary safety features - six airbags, electronic stability control (VSA), ISOFIX for the Honda City 1.5V.