Powertrain – Plenty of choices in the B-segment market
Not too long ago, those looking for a B-segment sedan had very limited options to choose from, with most engine being offered are naturally-aspirated petrol engines.
But with the introduction of the all-new Honda City and Nissan Almera, things have changed a fair bit.
In the case of the all-new Honda City, buyers can pick between a new 1.5-litre DOHC petrol engine (older engine was a SOHC unit) or a more sophisticated 1.5-litre petrol-electric i-MMD powertrain. The new 1.5-litre DOHC petrol unit is good for 121 PS and 145 Nm, while the new i-MMD powertrain does a class-leading 253 Nm (engine: 98 PS, 127 Nm, motor: 108 PS, 253 Nm).
As for the upcoming all-new Nissan Almera, it gets an equally-new 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine – the first for the Almera. The little turbocharged mill does 100 PS and 152 Nm. We’ve explained in this article why ETCM went with the turbocharged three-pot instead of the proven 1.5-litre unit.
Then there’s the Toyota Vios and its trusty 1.5-litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine. With just 107 PS and 140 Nm, the Vios may not be the quickest off the line, but it is perhaps the most reliable engine out of these three models.
Common to all three models is a CVT-type automatic transmission, which is a standard fare for most B-segment models these days. The only exception is the City RS, as it gets an eCVT instead.
Dimensions – The all-new City is HUGE
With a length that spans well over the 4.5-meter mark, the all-new Honda City is the longest car in this comparison, ahead of the Nissan Almera and Toyota Vios.
Interestingly, although the all-new Honda City has the longest length, its 2,600 mm-long wheelbase is identical to the previous GM6-generation model. The all-new Nissan Almera has the longest wheelbase in this comparison, coming in at 2,620 mm.
Equipment – Feature-packed B-segment models
It’s refreshing to see that Honda Malaysia has taken note of how bad the infotainment system was on the previous-generation Honda City and given the all-new model a much-needed upgrade.
Barring the entry-level 1.5 S variant, every other variant of the all-new Honda City receive a brand-new 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Like the all-new Honda City, the equally-new Nissan Almera also gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment on upper variants, but with one big caveat – the new infotainment system only supports Apple CarPlay. Android Auto support is curiously missing.
Sorely needing an upgrade is the Toyota Vios. Its infotainment system is the worst of the trio, as it lacks support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, only MirrorLink.
Safety – Vios claws back
Where the Vios loses out in infotainment system and outright performance, it makes for a rather formidable case for those who take safety seriously thanks to its standard 7-airbag offering. Regardless of variant, the Toyota Vios is fitted with 7 airbags – something none of its segment rivals can boast of.
The all-new Honda City’s safety suite largely mirrors the outgoing GM6-generation model, but with some incremental upgrades. In the case of the entry-level City 1.5 S, it now gets 4 airbags, up from 2 of the GM6-generation model.
Furthermore, both the 1.5 V and RS variants are equipped with Honda’s LaneWatch camera. The updated Honda Sensing ADAS suite also makes a debut on the all-new City, featuring an improved, wider angle camera.
ETCM has also done a decent job speccing the all-new Nissan Almera as it finally gets 6 airbags on the upper variants. On top of that, all variants of the all-new Almera get stability control, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), while upper variants add a 360-degree view camera, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA). The only downside in terms of safety of the all-new Nissan Almera is the two-airbag offering on the base model variant.
Conclusion – Depends on what you seek in a sedan
Regardless of which B-segment sedan you pick, each and every model has its merits.
For those who wants a well-equipped and dependable B-segment sedan, it's hard to argue against the Toyota Vios. Yes it is the oldest of this bunch, but Toyota has a solid track record of manufacturing cars that lasts the test of time.
But if you want a turbocharged Japanese B-segment sedan, then the Nissan Almera is a compelling option. Granted it does not have some of the safety equipment of the all-new City, but for what it's worth, the all-new Almera is a massive step-up from the model it replaces.
Compared to segment rivals, the all-new Honda City has the best overall package, as it includes the Honda Sensing ADAS suite and LaneWatch camera, upping the ante when it comes to B-segment models. It is also the safest in the segment, offering better crash safety protection than even bigger SUVs like Proton X50 or Perodua Aruz.