Honda Malaysia’s big launch this year is the new Honda City, which is coming in the fourth quarter of 2020. Today, the company gave the media an exclusive preview of the fifth-generation B-segment sedan, revealing some surprising new features.

First, let’s start with what we already know. Malaysia will be the first country in the world to offer the City with the two-motor Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid system, which is currently only offered on the Jazz. This variant will be called the e:HEV, Honda’s new global brand for hybrid electric vehicles.

This particular hybrid is different from most other systems in that most of the time, the petrol engine – a 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC four-cylinder – does not power the car. Instead, it functions mainly as a generator with the help of an integrated electric motor, which also acts as a starter.

It’s the larger second motor that does the heavy lifting of moving the car. It churns out the headline 109 PS and 253 Nm which, as Honda Malaysia is eager to point out, is more torque than the D-segment Toyota Camry. The best part? All that torque is produced at zero revs, just like a battery electric vehicle.

Because the electric motor mostly drives the car, the i-MMD system does away with what you or I would call a gearbox. However, the engine can provide direct drive at higher speeds, using a lock-up clutch and a single-speed transmission, as it is more efficient than an electric motor at those speeds.

For the first time, Honda Malaysia is offering the hybrid in range-topping RS form, affirming the powertrain’s status as the flagship of the local City lineup. You will also be able to get the car as a petrol-only model powered by a new twin-cam (DOHC) 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC mill, which in India makes 121 PS and 145 Nm and is paired to a CVT. We’re expecting the usual S, E and V variants for this one.

One big surprise is the addition of Honda Sensing, as denoted by the camera at the top of the windscreen of this pre-production unit. This suite of active safety features is not available in Thailand, meaning that Malaysia will be the first market to get the system on the City.

Right now, it’s unclear if we’ll receive the full package offered on the Jazz internationally, which includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. We should point out, however, that the City’s rivals in Thailand – the Toyota Yaris Ativ (Vios) and Nissan Almera – only come with AEB and lane departure warning, so we’ll see if Honda will offer the entire system here.

We’re also not sure at this point if Honda Sensing is an RS-only feature, or if the petrol model will also get it. As revealed previously, the City will also be available with the LaneWatch blind spot camera, which will likely be bundled in with Honda Sensing.

Another surprise is the fact that this car comes with rear brake discs, versus the Thai market’s drums. Again, it remains to be seen if this is only fitted to the hybrid model, but it should be tied to the electric parking brake that we know the hybrid has – the Jazz, which gets an EPB for both petrol and hybrid models, receives all-round disc brakes across the lineup.

Honda Malaysia did not give us any access to the car’s interior, so just like you guys, we’ll have to wait to see what other features we’ll get. We also have no indication of pricing – as usual, we will bring you all the details as and when we’ll get them, so keep it locked here.