We drive the Honda City facelift
We drive the Honda City faceliftShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

2023 Honda City facelift first drive review

The new Honda City loses diesel power and gains two new entry level variants 

Honda's best selling car in the Indian market, has received a mid-life update. The fifth-generation Honda City, which debuted in 2020, has received sportier styling and two new entry-level variants for both the petrol and hybrid models. Additionally, this makeover eliminates the diesel engine option and adds ADAS, which was previously only available on the hybrid variant, to the petrol variants. Over the last three years, the Japanese giant was all ears to customer feedback and has given the 2023 City some much needed updates on the inside as well. We've driven the new City to see if these minute changes are enough to lure in more buyers.

2023 Honda City styling

On the outside, Honda has given the City two styling themes now. The lower variants get an 'elegant' theme with a reworked front bumper and horizontal slats on the front grille. The top-end ZX variant, though, boasts sportier styling. It gets sharper front and rear bumpers with faux carbon fibre texture and diamond chequered flag pattern on the front grille. At first glance, these updates are hard to spot, especially if you're looking at the City from afar, but after you've observed them, they certainly make it look classier as well as more dynamic. Honda has also made available a new colour option dubbed the 'Obsidian Blue Pearl', which I think looks absolutely fantastic. 

The 16-inch alloys have also received a new design and Honda has also added a new 15-inch alloy wheel option on lower variants. At the rear the City now gets a body coloured boot lid spoiler and what is carried forward is LED lighting all-around.

Updated interiors get new colours, wireless CarPlay / Android Auto and improved resolution for the rear view camera
Updated interiors get new colours, wireless CarPlay / Android Auto and improved resolution for the rear view cameraShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

2023 Honda City interior and features

Step inside and you'll notice that the basic layout of the dash of the 2023 City remains identical to the previous version with the 8-inch infotainment touchscreen taking centre stage. It is flanked by AC vents on either side and behind the three-spoke steering wheel sits a semi-digital instrument cluster that displays all the information that you need.

The petrol variants get a beige and black dual-tone interior colour scheme while the hybrid gets an ivory and black colour option. The hybrid also gets faux carbonfibre trim on the dashboard, which I think is a bit too much, but that panel is replaced by faux wooden trim on the petrol versions. On the features front, the City now gets a wireless charging pad, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, rain sensing windshield wipers and auto high beam function.

A much needed upgrade was the high resolution camera system and even the petrol variants now get ADAS.

The ADAS tech itself has also received a couple of new features. The lead car departure notification system that notifies you when the vehicle ahead you starts moving and the low speed follow function which maintains a safe distance from the car ahead and allows it to follow it in stop and go traffic, even on the manual variant, and it works flawlessly

Same petrol and hybrid powertrains as before
Same petrol and hybrid powertrains as beforeShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

2023 Honda City engines

With the new City, you can't opt for the 1.5-litre diesel engine because that has been axed completely. The petrol engine, though, remains the same as before. It's a 1.5-litre nat-asp unit with dual overhead cams producing 119bhp and 145Nm. It can be mated to a 6-speed manual or a CVT transmission.

The City e:HEV on the other hand gets the same engine that works in tandem with two electric motors. The system produces a combined output of 124bhp and it mated to an e-CVT transmission. Both these engines are now RDE and E20 emission norms compliant.

What I drove was the petrol manual and although the City is a car which is better enjoyed from the rear seat, this is the combo to have if you love driving. The manual transmission is a joy to use as it is slick and has short throws. The engine purrs to life with little to no noise and gets going once past the 2500rpm mark. It revs hard till the redline and that is something you'll find yourself doing if you're in the mood for some enthusiastic driving. But it also settles down nicely and cruises at 2000rpm at 80kmph. And at that speed there's no need to go for a downshift if you wish to overtake, because this engine has a superb low to mid-range. But of course, if you wish for ultimate fuel efficiency figures, the e:HEV remains the go-to option. Moreover the e:HEV has also become more accessible as it is available on the lower 'V' variant as well now. 

The City has always put first comfort before everything else and that remains. It tackles potholes and bad roads with excellent poise and offers a very composed ride quality no matter what the speeds. 

Prices start from Rs 11.49 lakh
Prices start from Rs 11.49 lakhShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

2023 Honda City price and rivals

The 2023 Honda City facelift is launched at Rs 11.49 lakh and thanks to the inclusion of those two new entry-level trims it is now Rs 38,000 more affordable than its previous version. The City hybrid, with the new entry-level variant, is a full Rs 1 lakh more affordable than before. However, prices of the existing trims have gone up in the range of Rs 15,000-35,000 depending on the variant. The new City rivals the likes of the Skoda Slavia, VW Virtus, Hyundai Verna and Honda Ciaz. 

With all these upgrades and those two new entry level variants the City surely has become more accessible and desirable to buyers. It is now the most affordable car in India to offer ADAS and continues to remain a comfortable cruiser both inside and outside the urban jungle. Sure there are a few other cars that feel sportier, but if a comfortable sedan is what you're looking for, the City should still be up high on your consideration list. 

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