Honda City Hatchback in Malaysia – we ask LPL Rei Sakamoto on why not Jazz, no turbo engine and more

Honda City Hatchback in Malaysia – we ask LPL Rei Sakamoto on why not Jazz, no turbo engine and more

Twenty-five years on from its debut, the ASEAN-market Honda City has finally gotten a hatchback variant. The five-door model replaces the evergreen Jazz in the region as the latter becomes more sophisticated (and thus more expensive) in its fourth generation. Building the hatch model off the sedan also allows Honda to offer a sportier-looking rival to the ASEAN Toyota Yaris, itself based on the Vios.

As far as hatchback conversions go, this is as straightforward as they come, but there are still some questions. Can the City Hatchback fill a Jazz-sized hole in buyers’ hearts, and are there more changes from the sedan beyond the deletion of a separate boot? We speak to large project leader Rei Sakamoto (who, like the e:HEV RS variant’s LPL Satoru Azumi, also had a hand in developing the S660 kei roadster) as well as his translator, Honda Malaysia executive coordinator Yujiro Sugino.

Question: What is the reasoning behind the City Hatchback replacing the Jazz in the region, and is there a concern customers will miss the practicality and brand recognition of the Jazz?

Yujiro Sugino: In the Asian and Oceania region, we have a well-built brand with the City, so [we are] cultivating the brand’s legacy. The development was designed to incorporate both sedan and hatchback in order to maximise efficiency and to build both sedan and hatchback variants based on the same platform. So it was a regional decision.

The City Hatchback replaces the Jazz for the ASEAN region

The City Hatchback exceeds the practicality that the previous Jazz used to offer, plus with the development of the new City, we think we can provide more value to customers.

We’d like to point out at this juncture that the City Hatchback actually offers less boot space than the outgoing Jazz, at 289 litres versus 363. This deficit continues with the seats folded down – the City’s maximum cargo room of 841 litres trails the Jazz by a full 40 litres.

Plus, the City’s 36 mm reduction in height will likely result in lower headroom and less space to fit taller items with the base of the rear Ultra Seats tipped up. However, the City is wider than the Jazz and has a longer wheelbase, which means it should provide more legroom and shoulder room.

Q: Was the hatch planned for the City from the beginning or did the idea of a five-door come later?

YS: For the five-door development, it was incorporated from the beginning in conjunction with the four-door. Due to COVID-19, the roll-out and launch has been delayed, but the five-door has been in the planning from the beginning.

Honda City Hatchback in Malaysia – we ask LPL Rei Sakamoto on why not Jazz, no turbo engine and more

Q: Has there been any tweaks to the suspension and chassis compared to the sedan?

Rei Sakamoto: For the handling, first of all, the components we used for the sedan and hatchback are common, but the settings are different. For the hatchback, it is intended to make it [feel] more young and active with a sporty feel.

The hatchback [also] receives the centre [fuel] tank layout which makes the front a little bit heavier compared to the sedan.

Honda also confirmed that the body-in-white is 7.3 kg lighter than the sedan’s, although the addition of the large tailgate and the Ultra Seats means that the full car is actually slightly heavier spec-by-spec. The City Hatchback also benefits from a six-per-cent increase in torsional rigidity compared to the third-generation Jazz, but the sedan version is stiffer still.

Q: Why has Honda stuck with the LaneWatch camera for the ASEAN region, whereas markets like Japan, Europe and the United States are switching to blind spot monitoring used by other carmakers?

RS: For this City’s development, requests from all countries and regions were considered along with the price positioning. That is the reason why chose to apply LaneWatch for the City.

Honda City Hatchback in Malaysia – we ask LPL Rei Sakamoto on why not Jazz, no turbo engine and more

Q: Honda City models fitted with Honda Sensing come with an electronic parking brake, which usually enables Low Speed Follow functionality for the adaptive cruise control. However, the City does not get Low Speed Follow. Why is that?

RS: If there’s a market demand and need [for the system], it will be considered, but considering the positioning of the City, we determined we would develop it without Low Speed Follow.

Q: Hatchbacks usually have a sportier image compared to sedans, so a turbocharged engine – like the one offered in Thailand – would seem an ideal power plant for the car. Why do Malaysians get a naturally-aspirated engine instead?

YS: The application of the powertrain [takes into consideration] each country’s government’s tax schemes, not only the output and performance. In Thailand we applied [the 1.0 litre turbo engine] due to the tax incentive scheme, whereas in Malaysia it was determined that the 1.5 litre i-VTEC would be best for the petrol variant.

Honda City Hatchback in Malaysia – we ask LPL Rei Sakamoto on why not Jazz, no turbo engine and more

Q: The previous City (and Jazz) Hybrid were fitted with the Intelligent Dual-Clutch Drive (i-DCD) powertrain. Why was the system discontinued after only one generation in favour of the Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) for the new e:HEV model?

RS: Considering the cost and price positioning and to optimise efficiency, we determined that the two-motor hybrid system would be the [most suitable for the car].

Q: The new City gets an aftermarket touchscreen head unit instead of the OEM system found in the latest fourth-generation Jazz, which is shared with the Accord and soon-to-be-launched Civic. Was this done due to cost or were there other considerations for this?

RS: It is based on the consideration within the Asian and Oceania destinations where price is also considered.

The Honda City Hatchback was launched in Malaysia earlier this week, priced from RM75,670 to RM83,080 for the petrol variants. The e:HEV RS hybrid will be made available in early 2022, with pricing to be announced then. You can check out our video and written reviews, while full specifications and equipment can be found at CarBase.my.

GALLERY: Honda City Hatchback 1.5 V in Malaysia


GALLERY: Honda City Hatchback e:HEV RS in Malaysia

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Jonathan Lee

After trying to pursue a career in product design, Jonathan Lee decided to make the sideways jump into the world of car journalism instead. He therefore appreciates the aesthetic appeal of a car, but for him, the driving experience is still second to none.

 

Comments

  • FudgeMeSideways on Dec 10, 2021 at 11:44 am

    In other words, our RM and shrunk to such a degree now, USD 1: RM 4.2…Need i say more?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9
    • “Asian and Oceania destinations where price is also considered.”
      Our RM or the entire region? Do re-read the whole article again as their decision is not based on Malaysia solely. Stop blaming our RM it has nothing to do with it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
  • Everytime a question was on why we didn’t get a certain feature, the answer was always “it was best for the region/Malaysia” hahah

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0
    • lithium on Dec 10, 2021 at 3:40 pm

      agree, the answer but like didnt answer.

      just say la the city is cheaper to produce and higher margin. dont forget the jazz is a global platform and it had to meet the higher standards in europe and japan. unlike city which is only sold in asean.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1
      • They had cheapen down the City to ASEAN spec version unlike the previous gen which are sold worldwide, inc Japan known as Honda Grace.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
    • Funny how when Proton gives lesser specs, PaulTan writers & the comment horde will quickly beat their chests about such decisions but when these Japanese brands gave lesser kit with such paltry reasons as above, people just accepts it. Once again Malaysians love to self-flagellate our own efforts. Well done Malaysians!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
      • Yeah such comment :why the badge on the x70 front door?
        gosh , many cars got one lah

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • “Q: Why has Honda stuck with the LaneWatch camera for the ASEAN region, whereas markets like Japan, Europe and the United States are switching to blind spot monitoring used by other carmakers?

    RS: For this City’s development, requests from all countries and regions were considered along with the price positioning. That is the reason why chose to apply LaneWatch for the City.”

    Honestly, this and a few other responses just feel like deflecting the questions. If anything this interview unfortunately painted them as trying to pinch every penny out of their customers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1
    • KenZen on Dec 12, 2021 at 11:18 am

      Penny pinching? Lane watch requires camera while blind spot warning just need a sensor, which is much much cheaper.

      Allow me to share my thought as an engineer:
      1) ASEAN countries have higher car taxes so most car owners depend on a single car. Lane watch is considered an advance feature, which requires side cameras. Once a driver is used to such a feature, they will be dependent on it. Switching to an older car without lane watch, or with blind spot warning can compromise safety. As an example, once you are used to driving a car with reverse parking camera, how long do you need to adjust when you try to park a car without reverse camera?
      2) US, EU, or countries with much lower car costs will typically have owners with multiple vehicles. Blind spot warning is less intrusive compared to lane watch, so it’s easier for owners to switch to their other vehicles (MPV, truck, SUV, etc) without modern safety features with minimal adjustments.

      Whatever the case is, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy. If you don’t like his explanation, there are plenty of other car manufacturers to choose from.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2
  • donno on Dec 10, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    The new city hatchback is sportier looking? That must be a joke or they think that we asians are blind.

    That thing looks like an uncles car when compared to the sporty jazz.

    And how can it exceeds the practicality of the previous jazz when it has smaller cargo and passenger space?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2
    • kramark on Dec 10, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      Well, the new City hatchback still looks sportier than the latest Jazz/Fit launched in Europe, which has really embraced the cute mini-MPV look :)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9
    • donno, have to concur with you about the uncle perception – might trade in my somewhat youngish looking ‘20s model myvi for something more uncle-like for a recent retiree

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • kramark on Dec 10, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Love how the PaulTan team inserted a “fact-checking” of sorts for the first two questions. Keep it up!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
  • In conclusion, we Malaysian, only fit to get cheaper products from Honda (in fact, other Japanese car brands too). Countries like Singapore can still get the so called more sophisticated Jazz! Like it or not, even though we shout Wawasan 2020, we are no better than Indonesia, Thailand or Philippines. In fact, we are slowly moving backwards, whether we have self awareness or ignorant about it!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2
  • Da' Asian Guy on Dec 10, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    Yujiro Sugino: In the Asian and Oceania region, we have a well-built brand with the City, so [we are] cultivating the brand’s legacy.

    So nowadays, Singapore is not considered as part of Southeast Asia?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  • “Why you provide City Hatchback with signal stalk when you know Malaysian rarely use it? So does to seatbelt.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • Bieight8 on Dec 10, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    Why the lower version only comes with 4 airbags???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • Huck Phin on Dec 10, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    “City Hatchback actually offers less boot space than the outgoing Jazz, at 289 litres versus 363. ”

    Could the difference because of different standards being followed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Wait till the Chinese carmakers offer complete safety suit with cheaper price…then Japs will feel the heat

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1
  • Lame safe answer for most question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Q: for a sportier car why there is no manual version for malaysia?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • honduck on Jun 13, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    The new Fit/Jazz sets the direction of the future electric car adoption with a unique design cue that resembles the Honda E. It is all about fuel-efficient with the ever-rising fuel cost. So it is sad to see honda discontinued jazz for profit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
 

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