Quick Review: 2020 Honda City 1.5L V - good choice for a zippy family car

Sanjay · Nov 09, 2020 05:00 PM

When we brought you the closer look of the 2020 Honda CR-V facelift last week, we also saw the all-new 2020 Honda City sitting pretty outside. We know you're clamouring to know more - so we politely asked for the keys and took it for a spin.

Please note that this is a brief review, and a detailed review will follow post-CMCO.

We drove the V variant - which is the range-topping petrol variant before the upcoming hybrid RS - and here's what we think of it following a brief drive around Kuala Lumpur.

Exterior - well-propotioned good looks

V variant means LED reflector headlights, LED front fog lamps and LED daytime running lights (DRLs). The 16-inch wheels are actually the same ones you'll find on the upcoming RS but they're dual-tone there.

Every variant gets these cool LED combination tail lights.

This Modulo bodykit is available for all variants for RM 4,473.

Interior - give and take between rivals

Small details like the leather shift boot make the City's interior a touch more premium.

Much like the equally-new Nissan Almera, this variant of the City comes with a smattering of white leather inserts in the cabin.

The white leather inserts at common touchpoints.

They feel good to touch and break the interior's monotony - but you need to be on the ball to take care of it, since that colour stains easily.

The City has rear air-cond vents across all variants.

The rest of the cabin is give and take. The City's front seats aren't as 'C-segment-like comfortable' as the Zero Gravity units in the Almera, but you get rear air-cond vents here instead - which are not available in the Almera.

The Panasonic infotainment screen is bright, clear and smooth enough; air-cond buttons are satisfyingly clicky to use.

Infotainment wise, the City wins points by including both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support (the Almera only has Apple CarPlay). The City could do with improved camera resolution and sound quality though. 

Boot space is 519 litres, bigger than the Almera's 485 litres.

Another aspect where Honda can improve in is cabin refinement. There's no vibration through the steering wheel or pedals, but the engine will make itself heard when you drive a bit harder. The Almera is more comfortable in this regard.

Driving experience - a drivers' sedan

RS variant notwithstanding, the S, E and V variants of the City are powered by a 1.5-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine (code L15ZE), making 121 PS and 145 Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT.

The City V comes with 185/55R16 Toyo Proxes R57 tyres.

How does it feel? It probably has the keenest throttle response when compared to Almera or the Toyota Vios, with more than enough poke to make short work of overtaking and navigating twisty uphill stretches.

The CVT is smooth enough to make daily driving a breeze and if you so choose, there's paddle shifters to play with 7 virtual ratios.

The City's got a lot going for its ride and handling as well. The steering is responsive and sharp (you'll know what the front wheels are doing), the suspension smoothens out pockmarked roads rather well, yet still retains a sporty character - in which it doesn't feel floaty around sharp back-to-back corners.

And to those raising an eyebrow at the City for having drum brakes at the back - it's more than enough.


Intial impressions of the City is positive. It's better than the Almera when it comes to driveability, thanks to a larger capacity naturally-aspirated engine that gives more poke. Interior refinement is where it loses out a bit though - the seats are not as comfortable nor is the cabin as quiet as it is in the Almera.

Of course, this is just a quick review - stay tuned for our in-depth review post-CMCO.

You may want to keep in mind that the RS variant with the gearbox-less i-MMD engine will be out next year, and by then the facelifted 2021 Toyota Vios will be launched too.

Meanwhile, why don't you read our review of the Nissan Almera as well to help you decide?