Friday, 15 May 2009

2009 Honda City: A Vios' owner perspective

By: Kyle Quek

WOW! That was my first reaction when I saw the 3rd generation Honda City. Styling wise, it was a no-brainer ace. A total departure from the previous model. Clearly, I was impressed, at least on the way the car looked. What about the drive, I wondered? On paper, the specs looked really good: i-VTEC, paddle shifters and a 5 speed auto transmission in a B-segment car. And at under RM90K, surely such a package is value- for-money. After all, its nearest competitor, the Toyota Vios (even in 'S' trim) is unable to meet it spec-for-spec.

Well, jumping into the driver’s seat, the cabin looks nice enough. The silver-colored trim on the center console was a bit cheesy for my taste. But what the heck, it’s supposed to be sportier so I guess it may be appropriate in that sense. Seats are firm, the meter panels are well positioned and prominent: no letdown here.

My disappointment came as soon as I stepped on the gas pedal. Somehow, the City lacks the initial pick-up pace which I am used to in my Vios. A few more stab on the accelerator confirmed that for me. Moving along, the driving experience reminds me much of my Toyota: gear changes are smooth and cabin noise levels also somewhat similar. The other difference I noted was that the suspension was sending most of the unevenness on the road back into the car: I can feel almost everything, a stone, a dent on the tarmac. Maybe this is because it has stiffer damping compared to the Vios. In contrast, my Vios consistently returns a very comfy ride especially when it was new (I have mine for over 2 years now), with minimal bumps and vibrations from the road.

Despite this, the new City still gives an overall impression of a pleasant drive. It has clever packaging and will surely deliver satisfaction to the owner. Undeniably, choosing and buying a car will depend on the buyer’s preference, and that will boil down to each and every model/make different strengths and weaknesses.

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