Honda's City slicker steps in to fill the gap
Search Driven for Honda City for sale
Honda says folk downsizing don't want to take giant steps - and the drop from the handsome Civic sedan to the Jazz hatch is a big one, in terms of character as much as size. Its City sedan will fill that gap.
There hasn't been a City sold here since 1989, and this is a new model. But it's also something of a parts bin special. Although the handsome body is a fresh design, everything else is shared.
The global small car platform also underpins UK Civic, Jazz and Nobilo. The 88kW/145Nm 1.5-litre engine is shared with UK Civic hatch and Jazz, and the transmission was derived from 1.8 Civic, but both powerplant and gearbox are retuned for City and the gear ratios and change points have altered.
The company line
New Zealand's in recession, the dollar's down the toilet, and there's no good news until next year. But compared to other markets, new cars are cheap in New Zealand and people still drive - so a compact sedan that's practical and affordable to run is timely.
What we say
Handsome design inside and out. Cheap plastics let the interior down, but specification is generous for the $26,900 start price - entertainment options include iPod, MP3 and USB, there are six airbags and cruise control, but the lack of stability control is disappointing.
Honda says that decision was made before stability control became a hot topic, and it will come next year to City and Jazz; no word on whether a price rise comes with it.
Otherwise the cabin's pleasant to look at and comfy to sit in, while the 506-litre boot's capacious.
On the road
The City certainly drives well enough to transition from its native urban beat to open roads. There's a fair bit of tyre noise in either variant, with ride a little better on the E-spec wheels and rubber. The engine seems smooth enough and is certainly economical - we achieved 4.8 litres/100km during a country drive at reasonable open road speeds in the manual 1.5. That's well below Honda's 6.3 litres/100km overall claim, and undercuts its 5.3 rural figure. The heavier City actually beats some Jazz models because of its more aerodynamic profile.
However, driving with economy in mind meant we didn't put the handling control to the ultimate test, and we look forward to trying it on home ground and ordinary day-to-day conditions.
Why you'll buy one
You want a small car but not a hatch; attractive looks; Honda's quality rep; big boot; and $26,900 starting price - they all appeal.
Why you won't
With similarly priced Kia Cerato and Holden Cruze there's now hot competition in the compact sedan market - and both Korean-built cars offer bigger engines, more power, and stability control as standard.