Honda City S 2009 Review

January 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Reincarnation isn’t an easy concept to understand. The idea that we leave this world in one form and return in a completely new shape seems far-fetched to many. But if it’s hard to swallow in terms of humans and animals it’s much easy to believe when it comes to cars. Case and point is Honda’s new City. We all recognise the nameplate from the first generation City hatch that while diminutive in stature was near omnipresent on NZ roads. Through the 1980s and 1990s it was hard to miss the boxy little City as it shuttled Grandmas and students alike around our county, before slowly dying out.

Now, the City has been reborn into the Kiwi marketplace, but not as a micro hatchback, instead as a small sedan. Creating many questions like has the soul of the original City been retained in this new earthly form? Or aside from a boot what else does it have to offer? In search of the truth Car and SUV took the new City on a journey of discovery.

Styling wise the City has more than a passing resemblance to Honda’s larger Accord Euro despite it being based on the Jazz platform. Even with multiple mechanical similarities the City is much more than simply a Jazz with a boot. It sits lower and longer with a purposeful stance. It’s aesthetic is ultra-modern with a high-waist and a snazzy silver and black grille providing a bold front accent. Steel 15-inch wheels are standard on the City S, step up to the City E for 16-inch alloys. Overall, the styling is razor sharp and has a knack for disguising the car’s bantam size with a brawny athletic presence.

Step inside and you see exactly why the City is an interesting proposition. Where small sedans have often been marketed towards older drivers the City has a young, urban appeal in the cabin. Kicking it off it is a 45-Watt, 6-speaker stereo system that could rival cars twice the price for sound quality. A USB jack is located in the deep centre console for hooking up iPods/MP3 players and interface is excellent with steering wheel controls capable of jogging through iPod tracks.

The curvaceous dashboard blends quality black plastics with alloy-look trim and a leather-bound steering wheel is pleasant to the touch. Controls are stylishly but logically laid out and are always illuminated making them easy to operate while driving. With air-conditioning, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking with alarm, rear under-seat storage and numerous cup-holders the City offers a generous amount of kit in base model form.

The seats in the City are comfortable with good support and the rear pew is surprisingly accommodating with excellent leg and headroom for a small vehicle. The seating position allows good visibility but could offer a lower adjustment to suit taller drivers.

For all the City’s interior trickery it’s the cavernous boot that is really magic. With a staggering 506-litre capacity the City’s boot can take more luggage than many larger sedans, including the Accord Euro and even the Holden Commodore.

Like the boot the bonnet has a lot of free space inside, with Honda’s tiny 1.5 litre 4-cylinder motor struggling to fill the capacious area. The 88kW engine is lifted straight from the Jazz and while it’s eager to please reaching 100kph will take nearly 12 seconds. However, the City weighs just 1110kg and has no problems moving swiftly around town when worked hard. It’s not the most refined powerplant around but is offset by a well-insulated cabin that lets little engine, road and wind noise inside.

With a drive-by-wire throttle and clever programmed fuel injection, petrol consumption is miserly with 6.3l/100km possible on the combined cycle.

The engine in our test vehicle was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission which allows short and easy changes. Combined with a light clutch pedal and even lighter electronic power-steering the manual City is a no fuss vehicle to pilot even in stop-start traffic.

Leave the bright lights and take the City on more twisty roads and it sits flat and remains settled during cornering. In terms of dynamics it’s competent and predictable but don’t push too hard because stability and traction control are notable omissions from the City’s spec sheet. In 2010 even cheaper new vehicles are expected to be fitted with stability control and its absence could prove an influencing factor for the safety conscious buyer.

Safety features the City does have include front passenger, driver and side airbags as well as curtain airbags, ABS brakes, seatbelt pretensioners and a reinforced passenger safety cell.

Now we’ve reached a state of complete enlightenment, what’s the verdict?

We tested the base model City S and it certainly didn’t feel entry-level, the interior is spacious, stylish and well assembled with an excellent equipment list as standard. Priced from $26,900 with the manual transmission it offers value for money and could be the pick of the City range.  It’s dynamically impressive for a small sedan and cheap to run. Although it can feel underpowered at times, during regular suburban driving that will prove a non-issue for many. The XL size boot and spacious cabin add to its practical value and there is a reassuring sense of quality inside and out.

Even with its new body shape and modern fit-out the new Honda City isn’t a total reincarnation of the old favourite. It still offers the same reliable budget motoring that the original City did with ‘almost’ everything you need and nothing you don’t. So if you’re purchasing in the niche small sedan segment give it a test drive.

Price: from $26,900

What we like:

  • Quality interior
  • Sharp styling throughout
  • Massive boot

What we don’t like:

  • Lack of traction & stability control
  • Sluggish engine
  • Drivers seating position

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Honda City S (2009) – Specifcations

Powertrain
Engine 16-valve, 1.5 litre, i-VTEC
Maximum Power 88kW @ 6600rpm
Maximum Torque 145Nm @ 4800rpm
Valvetrain i-VTEC (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift, Electronic Control) performance and economy enhancing technology

Chassis
Suspension System MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension
Turning circle (metres) 5.0
Front Brakes 262mm (10.3″) ventilated discs
Rear Brakes 239mm (9.4″) solid discs
Braking System ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and EBA (Emergency Brake Assist)
Wheel size  15 x 5.5JJ
Tyre size  175/65 R15
Full size steel spare wheel.
Wheels  15″ steel wheels

Dimensions
Length (mm)      4410
Width (mm)     1695
Height (mm)     1470
Wheel base (mm)     2550
Track front/rear (mm)     1695
Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock     2.7
Turning circle (metres)     5.0
Kerb Weight (kg)     1110 (man) 1145 (auto)
Maximum warrantable towing weight (kg)  1000 (man) 800 (auto)
Luggage capacity (litres, VDA)     506

Fuel
Fuel tank capacity (litre)      42
Recommended Fuel     91-octane regular unleaded
Emission Control standards     Emissions fall within Euro IV and LEV II international standards

Honda City TVC

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Performance and practicality – the City style


Honda City 2009 TV Commercial

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Who says luxury is only for a few? And that beauty is a privilege.


The Honda City is back – with a boot

December 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Thirteen years after it last rolled its way onto NZ streets, the Honda City is back — and it’s a small sedan.

“The Honda City is a sedan with cachet, designed for modern, urban drivers who want it all — all in the convenience of a smaller sedan. Since its debut in 1996, the City sedan has sold over one million units in 39 countries and when you look at the impressive features and affordable price-tag of this all-new Honda City it’s easy to see why,” says Honda New Zealand Managing Director Graeme Seymour.

Two models are available (the City S and more featured City E) and both boast a 1.5-litre SOHC i-VTEC engine with an output of 88kW and 145Nm. With a fuel economy of 6.3L/100km (in the manual, 6.6 Auto) it will be cheap to run and with CO2 emissions of only 148g/km, it has environmental cred also.

Apparently the new City delivers more power, space and fuel efficiency than all previous model Civic’s, with the exception of the latest generation. It can accommodate five adults comfortably and boasts an impressive 506 litre boot capacity.

The City S comes equipped with tilt adjustable steering, power windows and mirrors, alarm and central locking and an iPod/MP3 ready single in-dash CD stereo with MP3 player compatibility. Safety equipment as standard includes — ABS brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist, dual front, side and curtain airbags and front seatbelt pre-tensioners.

Meanwhile the City E adds telescopic steering, 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome door handles, fog lights, sports trim and a leather steering wheel and shift knob. The City E is available with the 5-speed automatic transmission from the Civic, while the City S is available in both 5 speed auto or 5 speed manual.

“Consumers looking for all the benefits a small car delivers — whether that be affordability, driving ease, economy at the pump or environmental responsibility — now have a fantastic sedan option packed full of features and in tune with the needs of a modern driver,” says Seymour.

Pricing (plus on road costs):

City S $26,900
City S Auto $29,500
City W $31,900

The City is available in QuickSilver, Atomic Gold, Obsidian Black, Taffeta White and Habenaro Chili Red, all with a black interior featuring silver trim.

TH!NK about it: Norwegian company releases electric vehicle

July 23rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

think-fq2

Norwegian electric company TH!NK (yes with an exclamation mark for the ‘i’) have put their latest offering on show at the British Motorshow.

The company claims that the TH!NK city has a range of 210km and only requires an overnight charge and will cost around NZ$265 to travel 16100km. Of course that is based on grid electricity costs in the UK.

As an inner-city alternative TH!NK could have something.

View the press release below

Displayed at the 2008 British International Motor Show at ExCeL London by Norwegian electric vehicle pioneers Think, a company with 17 years experience in electric vehicles, the new TH!NK city will be available for UK customer orders next summer.

TH!NK city is a true, modern urban car, not a quadricycle. It is a fully environmental vehicle, emission free and 95 percent recyclable. With an energy efficiency three times that of a traditional combustion engine car, it is a vehicle that realistically meets the growing challenges of environmental protection, traffic congestion and emissions legislation.

The two-seater urban car has a top speed of 110km/h. It accelerates from zero to 50km/h in just 6.5 seconds and to 80km/h in 16 seconds. It requires just an overnight top-up of electricity and can travel for 210km in city driving on a fully charged battery.
To charge the batteries from 20 per cent capacity to 80 percent takes just four hours. Over 10,000 miles use, the total cost of electricity used to power a TH!NK city will be in the region of £100 (NZ$265)

TH!NK city is designed to meet the strict safety requirements of both Europe and the USA, as a genuinely-safe road car. It is the world’s only crash-tested and highway-certified EV. The car is equipped with ABS brakes, airbags and three-point safety belts with pretensioners and it surpasses all European and US requirements.

“Unlike the lower-range, electric quadricycles that have had limited success in the UK, the TH!NK city is a real car which provides a realistic option for those motorists who want to drive a true zero emissions car,” said Richard Blundell, Managing Director of Think UK.

“Concern for the environment has been at the heart of the development of TH!NK city. It’s not only environmentally sound to drive, but the car itself is designed to be recycled,” he said, “Driving a silent car will give urban motorists a totally new experience. The TH!NK city produces no waste heat and no pollution. Critically for London and many other urban markets it beats the congestion charge!”

“Moreover, the TH!NK city is fund to drive, cheap to run, great to look at, generates incredible mileage figures and is extremely kind on the environment.  This is a proposition that we believe will interest many drivers who are re-thinking their approach to motoring,” he added.

Engineers, developers, buyers and designers in the Think company have focused on utilising clean recyclable materials and non-polluting production processes. The dashboard can be completely recycled. The fabrics, body, supports, air ducts, adhesives and fixings are designed using the same recyclable materials.

TH!NK city’s body is made of recyclable ABS plastic, designed specifically for city driving. Not only is it ideal for motorists who want to avoid visible scratches and irritating dents, the unpainted, self-coloured plastic bodywork also reduces both energy consumption and toxins, while making the panels easier to recycle. The battery is returned to the supplier at the end of its useable life.

These factors have been warmly welcomed by the auto insurance industry, resulting in reduced auto insurance rates by as much as 30-50 per cent.

Standard equipment on each TH!NK city includes power steering, central locking, a 4kW electric heater, and electric windows and mirrors. Optional equipment will include air conditioning, a pre-heat timer, electrically heated windscreen, full length sunroof, Radio CD with MP3, USB, Bluetooth, a navigation & multimedia system, alloy wheels, roof rack and 2 + 2 child seats (including 3-point seat belts)

Production started this year in Norway, and the first batch of right-hand drive cars will be delivered to UK customers in summer 2009. Prices of the TH!NK city will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

Company history and background

Think designs, develops, manufactures and markets environmentally friendly vehicles and technologies. The company has more than 17 years experience in developing and producing electric vehicles and there are about 1,200 Think-built vehicles driving on Norwegian roads today, many with over 100,000 miles registered on their odometers.

The latest TH!NK city is the sixth-generation electric vehicle that has been produced in Norway. Series production of the newly designed TH!NK city car has recently started and the first cars have already been delivered to Norwegian customers. Currently, cars are being produced at a rate of three to five a day, rising to 20 a day in the next six months.

The capacity of Think’s first assembly plant in Aurskog, outside Oslo, is presently being increased to 10,000 cars per year. Think plans to increase its production capacity with new assembly plants in the USA, Continental Europe and Asia in the next two years.

In April this year, Think reached across the Atlantic and established TH!NK North America in partnership with the leading clean-tech investors RockPort Capital Partners and Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers. Sales other than initial trial and demonstration projects will begin in the North American market in 2009.

At the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, Think announced a strategic partnership with energy giant General Electric, also an investor in Think. Think has also established partnerships in the US with lithium-based battery suppliers A123 Systems and EnerDel.

Think has been developing and producing urban mobility solutions since the early 1990s. The first prototype predecessor to today’s modern TH!NK city was developed in 1991. TH!NK city was initially put in serial production in 1999.

During recent years, a wave of environmental consciousness and climate change awareness has ripened the market for alternative mobility solutions. In 2006, new Norwegian investors bought Think, and an experienced management team was engaged to lead the global design, development and commercialization of Think’s electric drive train mobility products.

Both new and former staff members were added to the team, and a new, global strategy was outlined for the company. A USD 97 million private placement during 2007 prepared Think to go into regular, serial production of the sixth generation TH!NK city. It also ushered in a new and dynamic ownership of experienced, clean technology investors. The car company of the 21st century was on the road.

“We are the car company of the 21st century. We develop zero emission vehicles and sustainable solutions and we are proud to be launching TH!NK city in new markets in 2008 and 2009, something that shows that the demand for sustainable solutions and zero emission vehicles is greater than ever before,” says Jan-Olaf Willums, CEO of Think Global.