July 10, 2013
No doubt the design of the 4th gen City shows sign of aging, but the facelift version of it refreshed its styling and still look quite contemporary when compared with newer cars. 4th gen City comes with two engine options - fuel effiency-biased 1.5 i-DSi engine (88PS) and 1.5 VTEC engine (110PS) which is more to performance.
The cabin is wide enough for 4 adults to travel comfortably, fifth is preferably a smaller size adult. Legroom and headroom are adequate for most people, unless you are a NBA player. For a 10 years old car, the one that I drove has a cabin which is surprisingly still in its prime condition. Engine and suspension felt fine too. Besides Honda's reputation in reliability, the way of the owner look after a car is important in determining the longevity of it.
The i-DSi engine is quiet at idle and low speed, only became harsh when pushed. The low-end torque was excellent, a total of 131Nm of torque peaking at a low 2700rpm, providing enough 'oomph' for everyday's driving. If you prefer high speed performance, the VTEC engine should be more suitable since it has higher horsepower output at 110bhp, 22bhp more than the i-DSi engine. Both fuel economy figures are very close, so it depends on your preference, whether you want the (slightly) better fuel economy and pulling power i-DSi or better high speed performance VTEC.
The 7-speed CVT with Honda Steermatic (where gear change can be done with the push of + and - button on the steering wheel) gearbox provides smooth gear change, no rubberband effect was noticed which is found even in some CVT gearbox-equipped new cars. Handling wise, no fault but could be better. Steering was light without much feedback but it was easy to manoeuver the City even in the tight 'kampung' roads. The City has a compliant ride, absorbing most of the undulations on the road and transmit only the worst into the cabin. However, cost cutting measures have been spotted on the Honda City. For instance, the cap to cover the nuts of the wiper pivot is easily detachable, leaving the nuts exposed. It's an eye sore...
Even after a decade on the road, Honda City is still charming enough for some and provide good value for money. Features such as the Honda Steermatic, ULTra Seat and dual airbags as standard across the range attracted customers since the birth of its generation. Yes, newer B-segment sedans have moved on in offering better refinement and styling, but the 2003 City is not that far behind too.
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