First Drive: Taking the Honda City to Kuala Terengganu

Initially, it seemed like it would’ve been just another media drive out of town. If we’re completely honest, driving the new Honda City Sport Hybrid out to Kuantan en route to Tanjung Jara, Terengganu isn’t exactly the stuff of grand touring dreams. But we were enlightened and had our eyes opened in more ways than one.

We first set off to Kuantan in the City Sport Hybrid and the first thing we noticed was how quiet and smooth it was rolling out entirely in EV mode. But almost instantly, upon heavier throttle input, the engine kicks in without so much of a whisper and that’s when the low-end torque contributed by the electric motor, made its presence felt. All 170 Nm of them.

The new Sport Hybrid’s Lithium-ion batteries deserves credit as it is said to deliver twice the output of the Nickel batteries previously used and is designed to last the car’s lifetime. It also comes with 20% greater capacity to power the fully electric air-con compressor even when the car is on idle in full EV mode when the auto stop-start kicks in but we’ll get back to that.

Combined horsepower output is rated at a nifty 137 hp and while it may not seem like much, the smoothness of the new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, together with the abundant 170 Nm of torque, not only ensured that power was delivered seamlessly but effortlessly as well. On a clear stretch along the Lebuhraya Pantai Timur we were surprised how relentless the little 1.5-litre as it grunted its way to an undisclosed high speed most 1.5-litre vehicles would struggle to reach.

And then there were the brakes. When we were met with inconsiderate road-hoggers or oblivious motorist swinging out to the “fast lane” without using their indicators, the City’s brakes performed in truly surprising fashion. The City’s new Electric Servo Brake, also applied in the Jazz, now allows for greater battery recharge when braking but what we experienced while on the go was its potent bite and how easy it was to modulate brake input.

As it is now controlled by the ECU which adjusts the brakes according to the vehicles speed and brake temperature, the ventilated brake discs and drums combo provided optimum braking performance and feedback at all times, without the faintest of brake fade for added assurance.

Cruising in the City we also noticed one thing – the ride comfort. Not only was it comfortable, it was rather silent in the cabin too and it’s no fluke. The City Hybrid’s Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) have also been significantly improved with a new high density dashboard insulator alongside other standard insulation in various key areas of the vehicles including the doors, outer dashboard and the floor. Oh you get rear air vents with plenty of head and legroom at the back of the City too!

For a car that’s carrying 69 kg’s of extra weight compared to the non-hybrid variants due to the extra components and batteries, it also did not seem to have rattled the City one bit when the roads got narrower and windier. Rectifying the excess weight, the City’s rear damper diameter have been increased to improve damping and shock absorption.

As a result, spring and damping efficiency has been claimed to have improved by 12% and 24%. Its composure and nippy driving characteristic have also been upheld by strengthened rear frames, A pillars and connecting rods.

Arriving at the hotel, we were amused by how surprised the bell boys were with the spaciousness of the City’s boot. You’d think carrying all that batteries would’ve affected its trunk space but it is as spacious as ever. In achieving this, you may lose a spare wheel in the City but it now comes with a temporary tyre repair kit consisting of an air pump and sealant.

All in all, we were thoroughly impressed by the countless improvements made on the new City Hybrid i-DCD and how it effortlessly ferried three adults and numerous baggage without a tinge of discomfort or inconvenience. There’s more to be expounded on this – stay tuned for our impending review!






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