Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Renault Clio RS200 Review

I manage to test drive this pre-launched baby at the Leng Kee branch there, with special arrangement. The drive is fun and this torque monster is fast ... though a little noisy, but the vrooming sound is solid and compact .... better than the Subaru boxter noise.. )



The Renault Clio RS - or for the purists, the RenaultSport Clio - has a cult following in this country.
The quick Clio's pedigree is impeccable: it's built at Renaultsport in Dieppe in the same factory as the Alpines of old, and it has a reputation stretching back to the epic Renault Clio Williams.
Australia didn't see that Williams, but we did get the Series 2 Sport, before it went on sale as part of Renault's assault on the car market in the early 2000s.

Now in its fourth generation and supported by three- and four-cylinder models below it in the filled-out Clio range, the new RS has thrown down the gauntlet on price.

Buyers now have the choice of Sport or Cup chassis - as well as the Trophy, a slightly more luxurious spec-level which adds 18-inch alloys and can also be had in Sport or Cup chassis tunes.
It has also had a major change in philosophy: the transmission. A 6-speed dual clutch EDC replaces the 6-speed manual. The purists are howling.

Now the price is right, can the Clio once again be king of the hot hatches?


The Sport and Trophy trim levels share the same basic interiors, with changes restricted to some spec items.

The basic Clio's interior is pretty good, with red-satin accents on the doors, shifter and steering wheel, as well as the requisite stitching on the leather-bound wheel.

The Clio has a tradition of chubby buttons switches and dials, and this continues in the Sport. The plastics are good, approaching VW levels of fit and finish with just the odd niggle.
All Clio RSes come standard with sat-nav on the 7-inch touchscreen, four speaker stereo with bluetooth, USB and SD.

The Trophy adds two speakers and something called "Bass Reflex", leather trim and an upgraded sat-nav with voice recognition and customisable home screen.

The Trophy spec also adds leather upholstery and upgrades the air-con to climate control (as well as 18-inch gloss black alloys).

You don't get something for nothing and, sadly, the lower price means the excellent Recaros from the old RSC are gone.

Thankfully, the tight-fitting replacements are just fine, if a little spongy in the Sport trim level. The leather seats in the Trophy seem a little firmer.

There's also a full-on race computer with telemetry in the Trophy. You can download your data to a USB stick and upload to the Renaultsport website.

And if the racetrack you're on isn't in the database, you can "draw" it yourself by driving around it, with GPS doing the rest.

Your line is overlaid on the track map, and things like steering, G-forces, throttle and gearshift are mapped as you follow the dot that is your car around the track.

It makes you feel like a proper race driver.


The new Clio is a lot of fun in its three-cylinder base version, with a lightweight chassis and a five-door body.

The RS inherits the five-door body, eschewing the three-door of old and moves to 1.6 litre turbo power from the high-revving 2.0 litre atmo.

Power is unchanged at 147kW (the 200 in the car's name is the horsepower figure) but torque is up to 240Nm.

There's also a raft of changes under the skin with bigger brakes and more downforce from front and rear splitters.

We drove both standard and Cup chassis on the road and took to the track in the Cup Trophy.
Was it fun? You bet it was.

The new engine brings it into line with its fellow hot-hatch heroes, with a torquey, more relaxed demeanour but 240Nm punch from just 1750rpm.

This figure is down on the current pin-up boy, the Fiesta ST, which maxes out at a heady 290Nm on overboost.

The six-speed EDC won't be to everyone's taste, but importantly it will be the reason a lot more people buy one of these cars.

In Normal mode, it's a bit slow, shifting up and saving fuel, but betters VW's DSG around town and, it seems, the same transmission in lesser Clios.

Switch to Sport or Race, however, and things get better.

Thirty-millseconds are lopped from the 200ms shift-time in Sport mode, and you can also shift yourself using the fixed Nissan GT-R paddles (really!) on the steering column. Another 20ms disappears in Race mode.

Upshifts shoot through with every pull of the right-hand paddle and if you need to shift down more than one gear, just stamp on the brake pedal and hold the left-hand paddle, the gearbox will do the rest, effortlessly.

While you're driving it as Renault intends, the communicative chassis will be dancing around beneath you, absorbing some of the biggest depressions and bumps Victoria's Gippsland roads could throw at us.

On the track it was forgiving and, cliched as this is, amazingly chuckable.

The electronic front diff, which brakes the spinning inside wheel, helps pull you out of corners and in some cases, the Clio almost feels like a rear-wheel drive car.

The Clio won't understeer if you go in too hot either, instead transitioning into a progressive slide before being gathered up by the brilliant stability control system. Or, if you're good, you can do the gathering yourself.

On the track, the electronics let you do your heroic thing without ever over-nannying, letting the inside front wheel spin up on wet kerbs, the electronic front diff making sure you keep going forward.
You can also show off with Launch Control. With left foot on the brake, pull both paddles back and the dash will tell you it's ready.

Floor the throttle, slip the foot sideways off the brake and the Clio executes perfect starts every time. Well - five in a row before telling you it needs to cool down.

Both Sport and Cup models are perfectly liveable on the road. The Sport is more comfortable, sure, but the Cup won't smash the fine china (you got from Great Aunt Doris).

The Cup is appreciably firmer, with uprated springs and dampers coupled with larger 18-inch alloys.
If you're not much of a parker, it might be worth specifying the Silver Radicale wheels ($750) which will hide some gutter scarring - the black will not. Rear parking sensors are a steep $300 option, although Trophy variants get a standard reversing camera.

You can fit four people in with good comfort, there's plenty of room for shopping in the back and it will look pretty good while doing it, especially in the spectacular Liquid Yellow or Flame Red


Mercedes B Class Facelift Almost Ready

Mercedes-Benz took a fairly large risk when they introduced the B-Class luxury tourer in India. The segment it entered wasn’t a well established one. Even the Indian buyer has been rather confused about it. Is it a hatchback or is it an MPV? Well, the B-Class is a multi functional vehicle and has the best of both worlds. Not as small as a normal hatchback but, not as large as a normal MPV hence providing intelligent use of space for in city and road tripping drivers. On the global front the B-Class sells reasonably while in India the concept is catching on quickly. The car has been around for a few years now so Mercedes-Benz  is readying the B-class facelift, which is expected to go on sale at the end of this year.

Honda City 2014 Launched !!!

We’ve followed the new Honda City from its world debut to market launches in India and Thailand, before previewing the Malaysian-spec locally-assembled City last month, twice. We have even got behind its wheel for a test drive report, and compared it shoulder-to-shoulder with the outgoing car. It has been quite a journey, and here’s the climax – the official local launch of the 2014 Honda City.
Let’s do a recap, shall we. The all-new Honda City, which shares a platform with the new Jazz, has grown in size – while it is just 25 mm longer than the previous car, the new wheelbase length of 2,600 mm is a significant 50 mm more, which means that overhangs have been minimised. 2,600 mm matches the Nissan Almera‘s WB and eclipses the Toyota Vios‘ by 50 mm.

Honda says that rear passenger space is best-in-class. The target was D-segment space, and backbenchers get more room here than in the Civic and Toyota Camry, it is claimed. Honda, which has always excelled in packaging, pushed the dash forward and brought the hip-point back – these, plus the longer wheelbase helped realise the interior space gains. Also segment-leading is the 536-litre boot.

Under the hood is the familiar but lightly-improved 1.5 litre SOHC i-VTEC engine, now with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), a new resin intake manifold and less friction. The motor makes 120 PS at 6,600 rpm and 145 Nm at 4,600 rpm, and is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission. Unlike the Almera and Vios, there’s no basic manual-transmission version offered here.
The Earth Dreams Technology CVT replaces the previous car’s torque converter five-speed automatic. The change to CVT, coupled with lower weight and better aerodynamics, has improved fuel consumption – 17.5 km/l vs 15.3 km/l in Honda’s own tests. Also, ECON mode makes a debut in the City.
Not the most important point in such a car, but the 1,075 kg City does the 0-100 km/h sprint in 10.5 seconds, or 10.8 seconds for the heavier (1,106 kg) and wider-tyred range-topping variant. Top speed is 190 km/h.

The new platform is suspended by front McPherson struts and a rear torsion beam, the standard arrangement in this class. The rear brakes are drum units, but Honda says that braking performance is the same as before. The EPS steering turns 175/65 R15 tyres in all but the V, which is shod with 185/55 R16 rubber. The price-busting S rides on steel wheels with caps, while all other grades get alloy rims.

Speaking of grades, four will be offered in Malaysia – S, S+, E and V. The top-spec V is richly equipped for a B-segment sedan. The above-mentioned 16-inch rims, touch-panel auto air-con, rear air-con vents, leather steering with audio/cruise control buttons, keyless entry + push start and illuminated meter are all standard, plus a touch-screen head unit with seven-inch screen and eight speakers.

The E gets some of the V’s goodies, but not all of course, while the S is cheap (we mean the sticker price) and basic. Click on the spec sheet scan below for a detailed look at the equipment spread.

Article from Paultan.org

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Scirocco 2014 Review

STRONGER, MORE ECONOMICAL, SPORTIER: WORLD PREMIERE OF THE NEW SCIROCCO More powerful but up to 19 per cent more economical:
Bestselling sports car Scirocco with a completely new range of engines

Front and rear sections with new styling; LED rear lights as standard
The new Scirocco and Scirocco R will be launched on the market in August

Ten key facts on the world premiere of the latest Scirocco:
- New engine range (92 kW to 206 kW) with more power but up to 19 per cent more economical. EU 6 as standard.
- With 2.0 TSI (132 kW and 162 kW) engine, the new Scirocco consumes just 6.0 l/100 km.
- With entry-level 1.4 TSI (92 kW) Scirocco consumes only 5.4 l/100 km.
- With the most economical diesel engine, the new Scirocco 2.0 TDI (110 kW) only consumes 4.1 l/100 km.
- New Scirocco generation (92 kW to 162 kW) and Scirocco R (206 kW) debut at the same time.
- Newly styled front and rear sections. Including new H7 und bi-xenon headlights, LED rear lights and swivelling VW logo as the boot lid handle.
- Modified interior with auxiliary instruments paying tribute to the original Scirocco.
- New technical features include Dynaudio Excite sound system and park steering assistant.
- New colours, materials and alloy wheel designs (17, 18 and 19-inch).
- Market launch in Europe starting in August 2014.

Wolfsburg / Geneva, March 2014. In 1974, precisely 40 years ago, the first generation Scirocco made its debut at the Geneva International Motor Show. The coupé has since enriched the lives of all those motorists who love dynamic performance in an agile, confidently stylish and affordable sports car. Volkswagen now presents for the first time – once more in Geneva – the latest generation of the icon which has sold more than one million units. It has been developed further technically and visually. For example, the engines: the six turbo direct injection engines belong to the latest generation of Volkswagen's four-cylinder engine family and consistently fulfil the EU 6 emissions standard; moreover they are up to 19 per cent more economical. Also as standard, all Scirocco with up to 162 kW / 220 PS have a Stop/Start system as well as a battery regeneration mode. The performance of the four TSIs (petrol engines) and two TDIs (diesel engines) ranges from 92 kW / 125 PS to 206 kW / 280 PS in Europe. Despite the reduced fuel consumption, all the engines demonstrate improved power. The largest leap is taken by the new Scirocco 2.0 TSI with 132 kW / 180 PS (previously 1.4 TSI with 118 kW / 160 PS) and the 280 PS Scirocco R (previously 195 kW / 265 PS).

Exterior sharper, interior loaded. The external characteristics of the Scirocco "2014" include its newly designed front and rear sections with redesigned H7 or bi-xenon headlights and LED rear lights. The rear and now swivelling VW logo was designed as a handle for opening the boot lid. The interior is equipped with sport seats and a leather sport steering wheel as standard, while the sports car also features new materials and colours. New technical features include the Dynaudio Excite sound system developed specifically for the Scirocco and the park steering assistant (ParkAssist). Also new on board as standard are auxiliary instruments (charge pressure, chronometer, engine oil temperature) which pay tribute to the original Scirocco.

Scirocco to be launched on the market in summer. Volkswagen produces the latest Scirocco at its Portuguese works close to Lisbon. The sports car will be launched initially in Europe from the middle of August. Shortly afterwards, the other high-volume markets such as China, Argentina, Turkey, Australia, Russia and South Korea will follow.

The exterior of the Scirocco

Design dynamics. The design forms the visual basis for the overall sporty package of the Scirocco: with its unmistakable silhouette, the characteristic rear, the impressive front end and its appealing proportions the coupé also demonstrates visually that this car offers a high degree of agility and therefore provides driving fun. Like the first generation Scirocco, the third series of the sports car is also viewed as a stylistic icon. Reason enough to sharpen the design of the Scirocco carefully – although it can be recognised as "new" at an initial glance – in order to develop its character further.

New front section. Precisely drawn lines, a fully new light signature by the headlights as well as aerodynamic "blades" (narrow aerodynamic elements in the style of the Golf GTI) in the side of the bumper join together to form a new front section look. The new Scirocco also appears to be more clearly contoured and wider, due to the bumper surfaces painted in body colour as opposed to being kept black. The narrow "blades" and a black, open-topped frame in the bumper form a striking contrast for light paint. The large cooling air inlet in the lower area of the front section and the upper air inlet are kept black. Together with the XL1 and the Beetle, the Scirocco is also the only Volkswagen where the VW logo is on the bonnet. In order to protect the front section better against damages when parking, the ParkPilot is now also provided for the front bumper.

New headlights. Striking light design is typical for all Volkswagen models. This illuminated fingerprint is particularly interesting for the new Scirocco when the new bi-xenon headlights are fitted: the engineers and designers have integrated a narrow, convex LED contour underneath the xenon module which looks like an eyelid and functions as daytime running lights. The indicators are placed separately in the outer regions of the bumper, with fog lights as well as the daytime running lights in the standard version. They are visually separated by the "blades". Together with the body-coloured trim for the lower cooling air inlet, the result accentuates the width of the car. The new design also makes the Scirocco appear to sit even lower on the road.

New rear section. The brand's design DNA defines that the width of the vehicle in the front and rear areas is accentuated by using horizontal design features. The new Scirocco further reinforces this effect using completely newly designed LED rear lights and also a new boot lid. The trapezoidal contoured rear lights towards the centre of the vehicle with their C-shaped light contour now extend further into the boot lid which, in turn, is equipped with a horizontal light-refracting edge underneath the window. A new black diffuser matches this powerful and precise design, making the bumper appear to sit lower and the car as a whole flatter in its proportions. Practical: as stated above, the VW badge swings upwards when pressure is placed on the central axis in order to thus serve as a handle for opening the boot lid (which is protected against dirt). The number plate lighting also uses LED technology as standard.

New wheels and colours The newly designed 17-inch ("Shanghai") and 18-inch ("Lisbon" and "Salvador") alloy wheels attract attention. As standard, the Scirocco is equipped with 17-inch "Long Beach" alloy wheel rims and 205mm tyres (from 110 kW 225mm tyres). Optionally the coupé – and this is new too – can also be ordered with the legendary "Talladega" design 18 or 19 inch alloy wheel which was previously reserved for the Scirocco R. Moreover, five of the 13 available colours are new to the line-up: these are the three standard paints "Pure White", "Flash Red" and "Urano Grey" as well as the metallic colours "Ultra Violet" and "Pyramid Gold".

The exterior of the Scirocco R. Traditionally independent design and upholstery elements characterise the top model in the series: the Scirocco R. This is equally true for the design of the front and rear aprons in motor sport look and for the wheels. In particular the three large, glossy black air inlets, the standard bi-xenon headlights, the LED daytime running lights and the LED indicators attract attention at the front. At the side, this includes the door mirror housings in "matt chrome", the side sill extensions with "R" styling and the brake callipers painted black with "R" logo. At the rear, the chrome tailpipes (respectively on the left and right) and the larger roof edge spoiler still belong to the insignia of the "R"; whereas the large air outlets in the bumper must be mentioned as new in the rear section. The standard 18-inch wheel trim for the Scirocco R was also redesigned. It is named "Cadiz"; optionally this alloy wheel can also be ordered as a 19-inch version.

The interior of the Scirocco

Auxiliary instruments pay tribute to the original Scirocco. The new Scirocco has also been developed further in several areas inside. Thus, the optimised instrument panel trim on the passenger side which visually streamlines the dashboard with a striking horizontal edge is eye-catching. The air nozzle panels and the central panel around the navigation system with an aluminium-look are now flush-mounted in the instrument panel and thus accentuate the high-end quality of the interior. Like models such as the Golf GTI, the Scirocco is now also equipped with a new tubular-look instrument cluster; the instruments features new graphics and are smartly framed with an aluminium-look. The steering wheel design was also derived from the Golf GTI. Additionally, the three auxiliary instruments integrated above the centre console are included as a standard: charge pressure, chronometer and engine oil temperature. They serve as a tribute to the first Scirocco in which, dependent on the equipment version, two auxiliary instruments were installed lower down in the centre console. It goes without saying that the new Scirocco is also still equipped with standard features such as air conditioning, Hill Hold, electric windows and sport seats.

Sporty decor, materials and colours. There is now a storage compartment close to the handbrake lever which can be closed using a "sliding blind". It is no coincidence that the new decor - "checkered black" - in the central panel forms an optical bridge to the world of the Golf GTI. Last but not least, the seats have been redesigned with new materials. New are "Matthew" (a tartan design with titanium black seat surfaces), as well as "Greg" Alcantara which is available in the hues "Ceramique", "Deep Mocca" and "Titanium Black"; as well as "Vienna" leather in the colour variants "Ceramique", "Sioux" and "black in carbon style". Also new: the light upholstery trim "Ceramique" for the lower section of the dashboard, door trim panels and the centre console which is offered in addition to "black".

The interior of the Scirocco R. Similar to the exterior, the interior of the Scirocco R is marked by the hand of Volkswagen R GmbH. The individualised features include the "Race" seat covers with the "R" logo and decorative stitching in crystal grey, the black roofliner, decorative "Carbon Race" inlays, applications in glossy "Piano Black" (radio faceplate, multifunction leather sport steering wheel and door handles) and stainless steel pedals. The specific "R" instrument needles are traditionally blue and the aluminium door sill plates are complemented by an "R" logo.

The Scirocco engines

Up to 19 per cent more fuel efficient. The 2014 Scirocco will be supplied with state-of-the-art technology for Volkswagen's four-cylinder engines. The perfected or new turbocharged direct injection engines all fulfil the stringent EU6 emissions standard; moreover they have been made up to 19 per cent more economical. Despite the reduced fuel consumption, all the engines demonstrate improved power. As standard, all new Scirocco up to a performance level of 162 kW / 220 PS also have a Stop/Start system as well as a battery regeneration mode. Except for the base engine (1.4 TSI, all Scirocco models can be combined with an optional dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).

Petrol engines have power outputs of between 125 PS and 280 PS. The performance range of the four TSI (turbo direct fuel injection engines) extends from 92 kW / 125 PS via 132 kW / 180 PS and 162 kW / 220 PS up to the new 206 kW / 280 PS powered exceptional engine of the Scirocco R. The 1.4 TSI with 125 PS is used for the first time by Volkswagen; the Scirocco base engine consumes 1.0 litres less per 100 km than its predecessor. Also, the 180 PS powered 2.0 TSI is new in the coupé line-up, following the 1.4 TSI with 118 kW / 160 PS in Europe. Although the new engine develops an additional 20 PS, it is some 0.6 litres per 100 km more economical than the 160 PS version. The adapted 2.0 TSI from the Golf GTI with 220 PS is also new in the coupé; a reduction in consumption of 1.4 litres per 100 km compared to its predecessor or 19 per cent.

Diesel engines develop 150 PS and 184 PS. The two Scirocco TDIs now achieve 110 kW / 150 PS and 135 kW / 184 PS. Both engines are extremely economical with 4.1 l/100 km (150 PS) or 4.3 l/100 km (184 PS). The reduction in consumption compared to the predecessor's less powerful engines is 0.8 litres / 100 km for both TDIs.

Four TSIs and two TDIs. A summary of the engines with their performance data, performance increases and consumption values (6-speed manual gearbox) is shown below:

1.4 TSI: 92 kW / 125 PS (+ 3 PS); 5.4 l/100 km / 125 g/km CO2.
2.0 TSI: 132 kW / 180 PS (+ 20 PS); 6.0 l/100 km / 139 g/km CO2.
2.0 TSI: 162 kW / 220 PS (+ 10 PS); 6.0 l/100 km / 139 g/km CO2.
2.0 TSI: 206 kW / 280 PS (+ 15 PS); 8.0 l/100 km / 187 g/km CO2.
2.0 TDI: 110 kW / 150 PS (+ 10 PS); 4.1 l/100 km / 107 g/km CO2.
2.0 TDI: 135 kW / 184 PS (+ 7 PS); 4.3 l/100 km / 111 g/km CO2.

Volkswagen Jetta 2015 Spy Shots

Volkswagen’s current Jetta has been on sale since the 2011 model year, during which time the car has seen its engine lineup expanded and a new hybrid variant added. Next year, however, the car will receive its first major update, as confirmed by this camouflaged prototype recently spotted testing in the U.S.

The visual changes will be minimal and are likely being introduced to bring the car’s styling in line with that of the 2015 Jetta SportWagen, which is essentially a wagon version of the latest 2015 Golf instead of the actual Jetta. Look for changes to the headlights, grille and bumper.

The updated Jetta should be launched sometime next year, as a 2015 model. It will still be based on the current model’s PQ35 platform instead of VW’s latest MQB but hopefully we’ll see some additional engine options like the 1.4-liter TSI. Current offerings include a base 2.0-liter mill with 115 horsepower, a 1.8-liter turbo with 170 horsepower, a 2.0-liter turbo with 200 horsepower, a 2.0-liter TDI with 140 horsepower and a hybrid setup (1.4-liter paired with electric motor) with 170 horsepower.

Note, VW dropped its torsion-beam rear suspension for the 2014 model year, meaning all Jettas now come with a fully independent rear setup.

Stay tuned for updates as development of the 2015 VW Jetta continues.

Golf GTI Concept 2015

Some of Gold GTI Concept Car

Honda City 2014


Small cars are big business. As other industries gnash their teeth over sales declines and predict the end of the world, the automotive players, those with B-segment contenders in particular, are doing rather well. Significantly up last year and, with new entrants late last year and this year, almost certainly more in 2014.
The rules of small cars are fast changing too. Until recently, small meant basic. If you wanted big car features you would (obviously enough) buy a big car. And if you couldn’t afford it, or fit it into your garage, tough.
Enter the 2014 Honda City. It’s not a size thing – this car is as dinky as other, more utilitarian sedans. What it offers is big car equipment and interior space. Not minimalism, but rather downsizing. So is it any good, and more crucially, is it better than the Toyota Vios? We hopped over to Phuket, Thailand to find out.

Perhaps more than others, the new City transcends the imaginary limitations of a B-segmenter. It has stand-out styling, decent (though not quite class-leading) build quality and a long list of equipment (even if most of them are kept for the flagship variant).
Across the range, it has a mildly improved version of Honda’s sweet 120 PS/145 Nm 1.5 litre SOHC i-VTEC engine. Best of all, though, thanks to its early introduction in this region, it’s already riding on the third-generation 2014 Honda Jazz platform, which is a big step-up from the Jazz that’s currently on sale here.
The first-gen Jazz-based 2002 Honda City, along with the original Toyota Vios, were the small sedans that started this B-segment phenomenon, passing invisibly in the early Noughties from small and reliable to small, premium-priced and reliable.

Not only did they quickly establish that people would pay slightly over the odds for badges, but also that they’d queue up to do so. If hot cakes ever need an analogy to illustrate their popularity, either the City or Vios would be a good place to come.
This is an all-new car rather than the 2013 Vios’ predominantly-skin-deep makeover. It gets a whole new look, based on Honda’s latest ‘Exciting H’ design direction and a completely funked-up interior (in the good sense, of course). Visual familiarity next to the outgoing City can’t disguise this new car’s promised excellence.
With four rather than just two model variants, the City becomes capable of sitting across numerous market segments. At the bottom end (the City S and S+) it can finally play forecourt tag with the base Vios and Nissan Almera, but in the upper ranges (the E and V; the latter especially), the equipment gets serious.

Turning back on its previous premium-priced strategy, Honda Malaysia is targeting the ever-popular Vios squarely in its new chiselled face now, while promising a realistic compromise between variant prices and the corresponding kit count. More on this when the full local prices and specifications are announced soon, but expect fireworks.
The Thai-built cars you see in these pictures vary from the Malaysian-assembled ones that you can buy here. The differences are minor, however, and are mostly in our favour. For instance, even the top-spec Thai models have a urethane steering wheel, while ours will be leather-wrapped. Ignore the rear centre lap belt too, as we’ll get proper three-point items.
But if you’ve been following the new City closely since its global debut in India late last year, you’d already know what it has (ESP, six airbags, rear air-con vents and a factory-fitted touch-screen media system in the top models), and what it doesn’t (leather seats, rear disc brakes, projector headlights, LED tail lamps). What we’re here to judge is how it feels to be in and to drive.

First up, the space. This car is massive inside; there’s no other way to describe it. With full freedom of seat movement, there’s a roomy, fairly comfortable driving position with plenty of air around your head, despite the seat being mounted a touch too high for our liking.
Speaking of the front thrones, they fail to escape Honda’s perennial seating issue – excessive lumbar support (too big a bulge on your lower back). It is non-adjustable in the City, forcing you to sit more upright than is ideal. The latest Vios’ much-improved front seats put these to absolute shame.
That’s a real pity, which then makes you think that you’d rather be in the back instead. Well actually, there are plenty of other reasons why you’d think that, for the new Honda’s rear cabin is the very best in the class, by far. For absolute legroom, it matches the Almera’s, but it’s the width that makes the City a real winner.

The space advantage is upheld by the cavernous 536-litre boot too, which is also class-leading (the Vios offers 506 litres). Honda’s “Man Maximum, Machine Minimum” philosophy pushes the frontier of interior space, and the City is a showcase of packaging masterclass. If you have a large family, this is the B-segment sedan to have. Period.
On the quality front, however, it’s not so class-leading. While the Vios cabin (hard plastics notwithstanding) makes you feel good, the City’s quality pales in comparison. We’re talking about perceived quality here, of course, not actual quality – there’s no doubt that the Honda’s interior will face the test of time as well, if not better than the Toyota’s.
Based on what you can see and feel, the Vios has the edge on material quality. Surely that wasn’t in the script. Apart from the City’s small section of soft-touch pad above the glove box (which is only present on the high-spec models, by the way), the Vios’ equally-hard plastics are finished in a nicer, more eye- and touch-friendly texture.

It’s still a good place to be in, though. Details such as the blue-ringed illuminated instrument cluster and touch-sensitive automatic air-con controls are nice, and the large touch-screen display mounted flush within the piano black centre console looks very premium indeed.
It works very well too. Its sleek, smartphone-like interface is both attractive and intuitive to operate, which betters UMW Toyota and Edaran Tan Chong Motor’s locally-developed retrofit items that are offered on the Vios and Almera. Phone/audio streaming through Bluetooth and GPS navigation are all present, though you’d miss a dedicated volume knob.
You get four USB jacks too (two up front, two in the back; not counting the 12V power socket), plus a class-first HDMI input. The latter allows you to link up the screen to your smartphones (iOS only for now) through HondaLink. It’s not the full-blown Apple CarPlay just yet, but it’s a good start nonetheless.

In terms of driving dynamics, it’s clear that, even more so than before, this City is not aiming at all-out back-road pace. What this car does best is transport you around in comfort by the line of least resistance, especially through the urban sprawl, and this explains the move back to having a CVT gearbox.
Yes, like it or not, Honda CVTs are back and it’s here to stay. This new Earth Dreams Technology transmission promises improved refinement and a total lack of bunny-hopping through traffic (rough low-speed gearchanges) that can inflict conventional torque-converter-equipped automatic cars, along with improved fuel efficiency.
It’s in the city, then, that the new City feels most at home. The tried and tested engine has enough low-down torque to feel sprightly around town, while the steering is light, and visibility (thanks to the elevated seating position that’s forced on you) is good. The new car’s softer suspension setup also rides out ripples particularly well, if not as good as either the Vios and Almera.

Out and about, the Honda sends mixed signals. On the highways (or rather empty two-lane Thai roads) it cruises easily enough, the suspension pillowing or parrying undulations as appropriate, with only the engine noise playing against the significantly improved cabin refinement.
Though still rather loud, the i-VTEC wail is at least pleasing to the ears in a way that the Vios’ VVTi and Almera’s CVTC power units just aren’t. And at full chat, the Honda engine is the quietest of the lot, despite its transmission’s unnerving inclination to keep it running at a constant 6,000 rpm (just a shade under the red line).
You quickly learn that the engine and gearbox combo works best when under-stressed, the smooth power delivery making the car feel more rapid than it is against the clock. Plant your foot hard down, however, and the illusion falls apart, as the available 120 PS feels no better than the Toyota’s 109 PS. You can blame the CVT for that.

Take it beyond the city limits, and the car hardly feels happy for you to lean on it in corners, where you can feel the back end taking a share of the load through the significant amount of body roll. This is certainly no Type R, and it makes no attempts to claim as such.
The springing is fundamentally soft, but the damping confident enough to carry a good amount of speed through. Having said that, the Thai-spec cars run on a decent set of Bridgestone Turanza ER370, while the local cars we’ve seen so far are all shod with the less-than-stellar Goodyear GT3s. How that will affect grip and road noise remains to be seen.
In short, the 2014 Honda City is nowhere near as wieldy as the Ford Fiesta, but it’s marginally more capable through the twisty stuff than the Toyota Vios, Nissan Almera and the locally-assembled Volkswagen Polo. On the flipside, those three have slightly better ride comfort than the City, but only just.

If you sense a little bit of disappointment in this preview, you’ve read it correctly. The new City promises a lot with its brand new platform and transmission, yet offers a mere incremental improvement over the older model. If anything, the jump here is smaller than what Toyota achieved by simply fine-tuning its existing (old) hardware. But let’s not allow that to distract you from what is still a great achievement.
So back to the initial question – is this the Vios-beater everyone is waiting for? It’s not quite the game-changer everyone – us included – expected it to be, but with its impressive breadth of abilities plus stand-out styling and class-leading features (on both toys and safety fronts, no less), it certainly looks like it.
Ultimately, its price will likely determine how it fares against the popular Toyota, so watch this space closely. From an objective point of view, that’s a job well done once again, Honda. This City joins the Accord at the top of their respective classes, and the CR-V is not bad either. Now, about that Civic…

article from PaulTan.org