Owner Review: Experiencing the Honda City - A car that is not love at first sight

Owner Review · Aug 8, 2020 05:59 PM

** This article is the personal experience of a 2014 Honda City GM6 owner and does not necessarily reflect the views of WapCar.

Facebook: Najib Ar-Rahman


Honda City GM6 2014

Owner Review: Experiencing the Honda City - A car that is not love at first sight 02

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Background

It was 2014 and I was in the market to purchase my first car. I have just recently started working for around 1.5 years or so and was earning around RM3.5K per month. My daily commute all that while was via public transport but the same year, I decided to get married, which is why I needed to buy a car. The usual choice for someone at that stage would be undoubtedly the Perodua Myvi.

Myvi is a good, reliable & practical car but here’s the thing, MYVI IS BORING.

It is a very common sight and even if you don’t own one, chances are you have driven or travelled in Myvi before. So there is nothing unique or exciting about the car for me to explore further and I was not willing to sign a 9-year loan for a car that I was not even excited about! Another reason most people I know tend to only keep their Myvi for less than 5 years before selling it off to upgrade to a bigger car later.  So my logic was – WHY NOT JUST BUY A BIGGER CAR IN THE FIRST GO AND KEEP IT FOR A LONGER TIME?

2014 Honda City GM6

My Honda City GM6 – Bought new on July 2014

Honda CIty rear 3-quarter view

Rear 3-quarter view, a clearer look on the upgraded alloys and added rear boot spoiler

Shortlisted Options

I had set a budget of RM80K and my criteria were simple – the cabin has to be spacious, the car has to look modern and service & maintenance should not be a hassle as I was planning to keep the car for at least 10 years, which is why I don’t really care about resale value.

These were the options that I had and reasons for rejection:

  1. Proton Suprima S – This is one of the best designed Proton cars out there, the sportback-like design was unique and eye-catching. Handling was pretty good too. BUT…..interior quality and design left a lot to be desired, the engine was not known for its reliability AND most importantly, the monthly instalment was higher than a Toyota Vios or Honda City
  2. Toyota Vios – The new facelifted design looked much better than the infamous Dugong-like design of its predecessor. BUT……everything else about the car is at least 10 years old! Even the specs and safety features were Spartan.
  3. Haval H1 – This car was only recently launched went I was surveying my first car and their marketing tagline caught my attention “a 1.5L SUV for the price of a Myvi”. I immediately went for a test drive but left truly disappointed…..the interior space is atrociously tight and the build quality is downright poor!
  4. Kia Cerato – I was adamant on getting this car as I love its design, interior and handling. BUT……the only variant that fit into my budget was the base KX variant which sadly lacks the all-important Electronic Stability Control and the rear lights were normal Halogen lamps which hampers the car’s overall looks.
  5. Honda City

Why I chose the Honda City?

The Honda City GM6 was only recently launched that time and I went to the showroom with not many expectations as I was not really a fan of the older Honda City.  Even the design of this car is not something that will immediately appeal to everyone. However, all my negative impressions changed once I did the test drive. I was so impressed with the car that I placed the booking and paid the downpayment right after the test-drive itself.

Another bonus for me was that since I am planning to keep my car for at least 10 years, buying a newly launched model (with completely new engine & platform no less) would guarantee that my car would stay as a new model for at least 5 more years. (It has been 6 years and Honda Malaysia is yet to launch the new Honda city for our market, so yay to me)

Here are the things that impressed me after the test drive (both as a driver and passenger):

  1. Rear legroom – Definitely the highlight of this car. The rear legroom was Carvaneous! Honda’s “Man Maximum, Machine Minimum” philosophy really worked wonders to this car and they were right to compare this car’s rear space with a Camry.

Honda City rear legroom

Amazing rear legroom (I’m 5’8” and the front seats were adjusted to my laid back driving position)
  1. Rear A/C Vents – This was not a common feature back then and it is usually reserved for the more expensive D-segment cars.

Honda City interior rear air-con vent

Rear a/c blowers – although it does not have dedicated climate controls, these are effective in cooling down the cabin pretty quickly since it is a small car
  1. NVH – The car had an excellent refinement level that I never experienced in any Proton, Perodua or Toyota cars.
  2. Smooth Steering – One of the big reason why the car was so effortless to manoeuvre in city traffic
  3. Class-leading Boot Space – 542 litres to be exact, bigger than many D-segment cars even!
  4. Keyless Entry and Push Start – Truly a godsend feature. Its closest rival Toyota Vios did not have this feature (but shortly after the launch of the Honda City with massive sales success, Toyota updated their entire Vios-range with upgraded specs and kits, including keyless entry and push start as standard fitment for the entire range. A moment of silence for those early buyers, may you find peace)

I ended buying the mid-level E-Spec variant instead of the Top Spec V variant due to the fact that it has everything I need for RM7,000 less. The only thing I miss from the Top-spec variant is the cruise control. The later facelifted models also came with paddle shifters, which I would have definitely preferred to have in my car. Plus, the Top-spec variant had touch controls for the climate control which, even though looked fancy and modern, was not practical to be used while driving.

The Aftermath

Up until 2013, Toyota was the undisputed leader among the non-national automotive brands in Malaysia. Even the previous Honda City was not as common as a Toyota Vios on the roads. And when Honda launched this GM6 Honda City in Q3 2014, I thought the situation will be the same. Despite the Honda City’s impressive credentials, I always thought most Malaysians would still stick with Toyota.

But clearly I was wrong!

Merely 1 or 2 months after I bought my car, the GM6 Honda City has been flooding the Malaysian roads left, right and centre. The car which I thought was a left-field choice suddenly became too common and it had become the default choice for B-segment sedan buyers, similar to how the Myvi became the default choice for a B-segment hatchback. This has brought down the unique factor that I had when I first bought the car.

Fun fact, 6 months after the launch of this car, Honda became the top non-national car brand in Malaysia and has held on to this title ever since, mostly thanks to the Honda City.

Modifications

The stock rims and tyres of the E-spec variant that I bought was definitely an eye-sore. This was one of the sure-shot modifications I wanted to do right after I bought my car. One good thing about this car is that it is very easy to find accessories and spare parts from 3rd party accessories shops and e-commerce sites, and their prices are quite affordable as well.

Here are the modifications made to the car throughout the ownership period:

  1. Changed the stock rims to a more sporty looking alloys, albeit still 15” due to harsh road conditions and cheaper tyre replacements
  2. Changed stock tyre sizes from 175/65-R15 (Goodyear Assurance) to 195/55-R15 (Continental ComfortContact CC6)

Honda City Continental ComfortContact CC6

A clearer look at the upgraded Alloys and Tyre Profile sizes, still 15” though due to cheaper costs and suitability over harsher roads
  1. Added 4 additional tweeters to the car doors (the E spec only had 4 tweeters) and 2 more 2” Full Range Tweeters on the Dashboard
  2. Modulo Spoiler

Honda City Modulo spoiler

Modulo boot spoiler, bought for RM150 (not a fan of full bodykits as it makes the car look bulgy and reduces the ground clearance)
  1. Front Fog Lamps
  2. Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)

Honda City daytime running lights

DRLs in action, it also doubles up as turn indicators
  1. PVC Boot Cover
  2. DID Dashboard Cover
  3. Door Visors
  4. Front Bumper Guards
  5. Anti-slip car mats

Ownership Experience

If I can summarize my ownership in one word, it would be “Fuss-free”.

Honda City interior

The interior fascia of my Honda City E Spec. Notice the DID Dashboard Cover and the full range tweeters installed on the dashboard

The car never gave me any major surprises or headaches over the past 6 years. It is an easy car to drive and even beginners will adapt to this car pretty quickly. The scheduled maintenance costs were also relatively affordable even after upgrading to synthetic lubricants.

Although fuel-efficiency was not my top most criteria when I purchased the car, the fact that this car is EEV-certified is certainly appreciated. On an average day with a mixture of 50% traffic and 50% highway drive (in Cheras area no less), the car will easily return at least 15 KM/L. On longer drives, I managed to achieve up to 19 KM/L even when the average speed was >120 KM/h. The dedicated Eco-mode and the informative Meter Cluster that changes colours from blue to green instantly when you are driving economically certainly helped in this regards.

Honda City Odometer

Very useful Odometer / Tachometer (only available in E Spec and V Spec variants). Notice the green light indicator surrounding the speedometer that indicates eco-driving. The top bar on the right indicates the real-time fuel consumption so that it is easier for the driver to optimize the driving style

I have done a countless number of airport-trips hauling multiple luggages back and forth and even under full load, the car’s engine did not struggle much on the highway. Even Ikea trips were also possible thanks to the rear folding seats. Till date, I have clocked more than 130K KM on my odometer. 

I did have a couple of minor niggles with the car, mostly related to QC, such as:

  1. The boot release lever is placed too close to the driver side seat belt. So whenever I pull and release the seat belt it often gets stuck to the lever. Due to this, I have accidentally opened my car boot while driving.

Honda City boot release lever

This is a common occurrence in my car where the seat belts get stuck under the boot release lever
  1. The interior Dome light on the roof is faulty – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t
  2. The rear sensors are also faulty and even after replacing under warranty, it still gets faulty
  3. The rear seat folding mechanism on the boot always comes loose
  4. Rattling sounds – this is becoming normal with Honda cars, although I’ve already gotten used to it since I always put my car speakers to full blast
  5. The rear suspension is too stiff; it does not absorb bumps and speed breakers well. This is very apparent whenever I drive to my wife’s place in Cheras (Bandar Tun Hussein Onn and Bandar Damai Perdana residents will know what I am talking about)
  6. Some of the Honda Service centres are simply not able to handle the huge volume of cars being serviced. Even the service advisors are not friendly and does not answer your queries in some centres
  7. Long drives can get pretty boring very quickly as this is not the car for spirited driving. The lack of cruise control and paddle shifters also adds to this.

Pros:

  1. Fuel Efficient, EEV-certified
  2. Dedicated Eco-mode, even the meter gauge shows real-time fuel efficiency which helps you to optimize your driving style
  3. Refined engine and driving experience
  4. Rear a/c vents
  5. Keyless entry with push start ignition
  6. Class-leading boot space & rear legroom
  7. Class-leading horsepower (Engine Output)
  8. Easy to find accessories and spare parts
  9. Relatively cheap to maintain (service & maintenance costs relatively similar to a Perodua Myvi)

Cons:

  1. CVT rumble
  2. Dashboard rattling
  3. Some minor QC issues – panel gaps, faulty reverse sensors, faulty interior dome light
  4. Archaic infotainment system
  5. Stock rims & tyres (for E spec and below) are cheap-looking and hampers the driving dynamics (stock tyre size was a meagre 175/65/R15)
  6. Rear suspension is quite stiff, you will feel every bumps and speed breakers on the road. Not so suitable for Harsh roads
  7. No cruise control or paddle shifters
  8. Too common on the road nowadays

Ratings

Total Score: 4/5

Performance: 4/5

Quality & Features: 3/5

Space: 5/5

Ride Comfort: 3.5/5

Fuel Economy: 4.5/5

Price & Cost: 4/5

Conclusion

I just recently celebrated the 6th anniversary for my Honda City and overall, I am quite pleased with it and I definitely feel that I made the right choice of buying this as my first car, despite many of my family and friends advising me to buy a cheaper car like the Myvi or Saga to reduce financial commitment.

The Honda City has served me well for the past 6 years and I still have no intention to sell this car. Hope it serves me for more years to come. But for my next car, maybe I will go for Kia due to their modern design and conti-level build quality (the Kia Cerato is still in my heart).

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2020 Honda City 1.5L S

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