Sunday March 10, 2013
The City in a city
By CHOONG EN HAN
Honda proves that a little upgrade can go a long way.
THEREíS just nothing more heady than the smell of fresh car, that crisp and distinct smell of newness.
I was handed the keys to the new Honda City Grade E during the recent Chinese New Year break, and boy, was it fun to be rolling on a new set of wheels.
It was only a few months ago that I reviewed the other City variant, the cheaper Grade S.
Suffice to say, long distance driving scored a strong point for the City along with its fuel efficiency, when commuting around the city.
Having seen the car in broad daylight with its metallic black paint, I was immediately smitten by its look as the paint highlights the carís accents at all the right places, coupled with the chromed front grill.
Although Chinese New Year was hectic for me this time around, it was still good to make a trip up north in the City back to my hometown, Ipoh.
Loading up the car with all the festive goodies and hampers was an easy task as there was more than ample space. Thanks to the 506-litre boot space, everything easily fitted into the boot. A bit of self-improvisation and clever use of a seat belt helped strap down a pot of orchid on the back seat.
With the day starting out with clear blue skies, you just have a gut feeling that itís going to be a joy ride back to Ipoh, and a whole week of open house calls and indulgence ahead.
But before that, a trip had to be made to the KL International Airport in Sepang to pick up that special someone who had flown back from London for the festivities.
Upon opening the front passenger door, she noted the illuminated scuff plate and remarked, ďNice touch to the car.Ē
Along the roughly 200km drive up north, the ECO indicator worked like a charm to assist me in driving the car efficiently Ė when it lit up, it meant I was driving green and light-footed.
The handling was sporty and suspension pliant enough for a comfortable long distance journey.
By the time we reached Ipoh, the City had roughly consumed about a quarter of the fuel in its 42-litre fuel tank which is about RM25 for a one way trip to Ipoh. That breaks down to approximately 12.5sen/km, which is an impressive figure for fuel economy.
After passing the Jalan Sultan Iskandar roundabout, one canít help feeling nostalgic driving down this street or Hugh Low street as we locals like to call it.
I still remember walking down the pathways of pre-war and colonial buildings to attend tuition classes after school hours.
At a glance, nothing seemed to have changed in this little city that had its hey days during the tin mining boom. Despite the festive traffic built up on the roads of Ipoh, it was still a pleasant drive around town with the family on board the City.
But it certainly wasnít the easy-going, slow-paced town that it used to be, especially during the Chinese New Year break.
Even having a cup of coffee at Nam Heong coffeeshop (supposedly the originator of white coffee) was a hassle as there were so many like-minded out of town visitors breathing down your neck, eagerly waiting to take your spot after you leave.
But I digress. Back to the City Ė although itís a conventional Japanese sedan, it feels much more refined, and is a fine example of how much the Japanese has progressed in automotive technology.
Paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, the 1.5-litre engine, with 120hp and 145Nm of torque is more than enough to take you from point A to point B in every day driving situations.
Gear shifts are fast and smooth, making the City a speedy operator, be it in a traffic built-up setting or on the open highway.
However, I found the paddle shifters to be an oddity in the car as the transmission was already quite competent in selecting the right gears at whatever speed.
Priced at RM90,980 for the Grade E variant on-the-road with insurance, the City is a comfortable and sporty daily vehicle with the right trimmings.
Those who are willing to pay an extra RM5,000 for the Grade E rather than the Grade S, rest assure that itís worth the extra investment as youíll certainly get more bang for your bucks.