The Honda City 1.5 S is the nameplate’s entry-level variant in the Philippines. Don’t let its entry-level designation fool you, as the vehicle comes very well equipped with almost everything you would want from a subcompact sedan. The Honda City S comes with an attractive price tag of under P900,000 for both of its transmission options, and gets the basics done right all while maintaining a sporty feel and drive.
Honda Philippines recently gave us the opportunity to test out what the Honda City could offer, with their media drive that took us from the city all the way to the Pinto art museum in Antipolo. There we took the subcompact sedan through a quick highway stint all the way to the long and winding roads that Tanay had to offer. We were able to test how its new engine handled, as well as the small improvements that Honda did to the vehicle to maintain its sporty handling experience. With that said, how does the Honda City S handle compare to its higher-tier siblings?
Starting off, the Honda City S doesn’t come with the sporty look of its RS sibling. It comes with a much tamer appearance and has certain features adjusted to meet its competitive price points. Its headlights, while still maintaining the LED daytime running lights, come with halogen projector lighting elements instead of LED. While it takes a little bit away from the futuristic and more premium look of the RS, the design itself is still functional and matches well with the rest of the body. Another key difference is the wheels. While not as flashy as the RS, it fits well with the motif of being subdued and still works well to complement the design of the vehicle. Aside from that, the Honda City S maintains the elegant look of the City lineup without having to sacrifice too much for its price point.
On the inside, the City’s cabin layout is much the same as its higher-tier RS model, with the exception of the seats, as the S model only comes with a black fabric material. One thing to note though, is that even the S variant comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a welcome addition, especially for an entry-level model. This makes integrating your smartphone much easier as voice commands are available with the head unit. This makes answering messages and navigation easy, as you do not need to take your hands off the steering wheel or adjust what is seen on the screen manual. One thing to note is that the S variant does not come with multi-function steering wheel controls and only has basic controls for changing the volume, music, and the mode of the infotainment system.
What’s it like to drive?
The Honda City S performs like the rest of its City siblings. As the vehicle now comes with a new 1.5-liter Dual-Overhead Cam Shaft (DOHC) naturally aspirated gasoline engine, its midrange power has been improved. The torque curve kicks in a little bit earlier compared to the older model, making the vehicle a little bit more spritely than before. Another thing to take note of is that if you choose to go with the CVT variant, the driving experience becomes a little bit tamer, as the transmission takes time to give you all the power that the engine has. It’s not to say that the new City isn’t quick, because it still is, it just doesn’t feel quite as abrupt, and there is a sense of disconnect from what you feel in the car versus what the speedometer and engine tell you.
Nevertheless, Honda has done wonders with the new chassis, as it still feels responsive to sportier instructions as well as compliant to bumpier roads. The ride was smooth and confidence-inspiring, even while taking corners at reasonable speeds. The steering was communicative with what the vehicle and tires were doing, and the sensing of having grip when you need it was always there. Overall, even with the CVT and lack of paddle shifters, the S delivered a confidence-inspiring drive.
Should you get the Honda City S?
If you are on a tight budget then the Honda City S is definitely a vehicle worth considering. It covers the basics, as it already comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto right off the bat. This is a great feature to have especially now, in our technology-integrated times. While it may have its shortcomings, particularly on the lack of a reverse camera and sensors, the compact form factor of the vehicle makes it easy to drive and maneuver even through tight spots, as visibility within the vehicle is great. Overall, the entry-level variant delivers well on the Honda City’s premise of being a sporty sedan at an affordable price.
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