The 2020 Honda City first surfaced in Thailand in November 2019, and the fifth-generation sedan made its debut in the country as an eco car. Previous versions of the City weren’t in that eco-friendly budget category, but Honda made the choice to eco car the City this time round, joining the new Nissan Almera and Toyota Yaris Ativ.

As a Phase 2 eco car, the new City had to fulfil certain requirements, such as Euro 5 compliance, CO2 emissions below 100 g/km, and fuel consumption not exceeding 4.3 litres per 100 km (23.25 km/l). To do so, Honda gave the B-segment sedan a 1.0L turbocharged petrol engine. The three-cylinder DOHC unit makes 122 PS and 173 Nm of torque from 2,000 to 4,500 rpm.

Nissan did the same for the Almera, which also surfaced in the Land of Smiles in November last year. The all-new sedan’s 1.0L three-pot turbo does 100 hp and 152 Nm of torque, the latter available from 2,400 to 4,000 rpm.

Naturally, the Thai City’s move to turbo power led to excitement here as well. It wouldn’t be unprecedented, as Honda is a downsized turbo pioneer in the Japanese brand mass market segment here (Civic, Accord and CR-V have all moved away from NA engines), but VTEC Turbo in one of the brand’s entry level models – really?

As Malaysia does not have an equivalent eco car programme, which by the way requires substantial incentives to be dished out to carmakers, there’s no real need for Honda Malaysia to go the turbo route for the City and Jazz. In fact, simplicity and tried/tested powertrains might even be a desired thing in this segment, and the naturally aspirated 1.5L i-VTEC and CVT combo is far from broke.

That’s the case in India, where the 2020 Honda City is set to be launched later this month. Local reports based on a leaked spec sheet reveal six locally assembled petrol variants with two transmission options (MT and CVT) and three trim levels (V, VX, ZX). The engine in question isn’t the 1.0L turbo but a 1.5L NA engine. The BS-VI (Bharat 6, India’s emissions standard) i-VTEC makes 121 PS.

As before, India will get a diesel option in the form of a 1.5L i-DTEC unit, upgraded to meet BS-VI standards. Word is that it won’t be manual-only this time, and there will be a diesel CVT variant. The oil burner could either be a launch option or it could be introduced further down the line.

Our guess is that the Malaysian market 2020 Honda City – which has been spotted testing and will surely be coming in the not too distant future – will continue with NA power instead of going the turbo route. Bearing in mind the segment, target market and cost – which do you think will be a better route, NA or turbo?

The new 2020 Honda City boasts a bigger body as well as Honda’s latest family look – specs, gallery and videos here.


GALLERY: 2020 Honda City 1.0L Turbo RS, Thai-spec