Honda City

  • Honda City – bestselling B-segment sedan in Malaysia

    Honda City – bestselling B-segment sedan in Malaysia

    Honda Malaysia (HMSB) has announced on Facebook that its City was the bestselling B-segment sedan in Malaysia in the first quarter of 2022, according to its own internal data report. This means the company has bested rivals like the Toyota Vios, the Nissan Almera and even the much cheaper Proton Persona in the first three months of the year.

    Although HMSB did not provide any sales figures, monthly sales will be higher than the 1,675 units of the Persona sold in February, during which that car claimed the second spot in the standings. It appears Honda has ready stock of the City to accommodate buyers still looking to take advantage of sales and service tax (SST) rebates, as other carmakers struggle with parts and chip shortages – the Vios, for example, is all sold out until after the SST exemption ends on June 30.

    To recap, the City was launched in October 2020 in four variants – the 1.5 S at RM74,191, the E at RM81,665, the V at RM86,561 and the RS e:HEV hybrid at an eye-watering RM105,950. A 1.5 V Sensing model, which added the RS’ Honda Sensing suite of active safety features (including autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control), was introduced late last year to slot in the chasm between the V and RS, priced at RM90,212. All prices listed include the full SST rebate.

    The petrol models are powered by a 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC engine that produces 121 PS and 145 Nm of torque, mated to a CVT as standard. The e:HEV gets a 109 PS/253 Nm electric motor that’s juiced by a 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle mill, which can also drive the car on its own at higher speeds.

    Honda also now offers the City as a hatchback, although it would be almost impossible for that car to top the sales charts in its segment, given that there’s the small matter of the Perodua Myvi standing in the way.

    GALLERY: 2021 Honda City RS e:HEV sedan in Malaysia

  • Honda City sedan gets Meteoroid Gray and Ignite Red metallic paint, replace Modern Steel, Passion Red pearl

    Honda City sedan gets Meteoroid Gray and Ignite Red metallic paint, replace Modern Steel, Passion Red pearl

    Fancy the new Meteoroid Gray metallic and Ignite Red metallic that debuted with the Honda City Hatchback? Well, good news, both of them are now available for the City sedan.

    The good news is, there won’t be a surcharge for either option. Meteoroid Gray replaces the long-serving Modern Steel Metallic, while Ignite Red pearl phases out Passion Red pearl.

    Honda Malaysia managing director and CEO Madoka Chujo said: “The Ignite Red metallic and Meteoroid Gray metallic colours were introduced in the all-new City Hatchback for the first time. Both colours have been well received by the market and we expanded the new colour options to the all-new Civic.”

    Honda City sedan gets Meteoroid Gray and Ignite Red metallic paint, replace Modern Steel, Passion Red pearl

    “To further excite the market, we are now offering these new colour options in the City and Accord as well. The new colours further emphasise the styling of the City and elevate the sleek profile of the Accord. We will continue to enhance our products to deliver the Joy of Buying to the customers.”

    To date, Honda Malaysia has sold over 32,500 units of the fifth-generation City, and it’s the company’s bestselling model for January and February, accounting for roughly 38% of total sales.

    GALLERY: Honda City Hatchback e:HEV RS in Ignite Red Metallic

  • 2022 Honda City RS e:HEV review in Malaysia, RM106k

    In all honesty, the fifth-generation Honda City would have done just fine with the standard petrol-only S, E and V variants. But Honda Malaysia went out on a limb to introduce the City e:HEV RS, a range-topping model that is completely decked out with the latest and greatest.

    At RM106k, the RS costs around RM16,000 more than the City V Sensing, or nearly RM20k more than the regular City V. Some will find the difference hardly justifiable, and the Road Sailing treatment just doesn’t quite cut it. This is evidenced by the fact that its total volume accounts for less than 5% of all City models sold to date, but then again, that’s completely in line with the company’s expectations.

    It’s not really a flop, but a mere strategy to get ahead of the curve, so to speak. The i-MMD hybrid system is vastly superior compared to the outgoing i-DCD on the efficiency metric. The powertrain is a complex one, but executed in a manner that still feels familiar to most motorists, even though the car behaves more like an electric car than the typical hybrid.

    Based on our testing, we managed to achieve 24 km per litre over a period of 10 days (with a third of fuel left in the tank!), so a full tank (40 litres) could technically get you close to 1,000 km. The City RS is more efficient at lower speeds, so if the bulk of your commute takes place in congested urban areas, the i-MMD system will help you save on fuel costs.

    But is it for everyone, and how does it compare to the regular City with the updated 1.5 litre DOHC engine? Do you really get 253 Nm of torque with the City RS? We answer all of that in the video above. Alternatively, you can also read our in-depth written coverage, here.

  • Honda City e:HEV RS hybrid makes up just 5% of Malaysian City sedan sales, more than 22k sold overall

    Honda City e:HEV RS hybrid makes up just 5% of Malaysian City sedan sales, more than 22k sold overall

    During the launch of the City Hatchback today, Honda Malaysia announced that it has sold over 22,000 units of the latest fifth-generation sedan model since its launch in October last year. Of those, less than five per cent were of the range-topping e:HEV RS hybrid, the company revealed at a press conference.

    Of course, the e:HEV did miss out on five months of sales, having only been offered on the market from March. The hybrid is also far and away the most expensive model in the local City range – at RM105,950, it’s over RM19,000 pricier than the next closest variant, the petrol-powered 1.5 V. The latter has closed the gap slightly with a new Honda Sensing-equipped version, but at RM90,212 it’s still nearly RM16,000 cheaper.

    Another possible factor is that the e:HEV powertrain’s operation is very different from the petrol engines that Malaysian customers are used to, and even most hybrids. Most of the time, the car is powered by a 109 PS/253 Nm electric motor, juiced by a 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC engine. The latter can also clutch in at higher speeds to provide motive power and assist the motor under hard acceleration.

    The sales performance and customer reception of the e:HEV model is at least in line with Honda Malaysia’s expectations, said executive coordinator Yujiro Sugino.

  • 2021 Honda City V with Sensing in Malaysia – RM90k

    2021 Honda City V with Sensing in Malaysia – RM90k

    If you’re planning to buy a brand new 2021 Honda City, you now have a total of five variants to pick from the sedan range. The latest to join the line-up is the City 1.5L V Sensing, which is priced at RM90,212 (on-the-road without insurance).

    As the name implies, it’s based on the City V (RM87k), but gets upgraded with Honda Sensing. The advanced driving aids package is the same as what you will get with the City RS e:HEV hybrid, which comprises Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Mitigation Braking System (AEB), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Auto High-Beam (AHB).

    Another upgrade it gets is a seven-inch TFT digital instrument display instead of the analogue gauges found in the regular City V. Beyond that, the rest of the spec sheet between the V and V Sensing is the same.

    Click to enlarge

    No changes in the powertrain as well, so it’s powered by the same 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated DOHC four-cylinder petrol engine that generates 121 PS at 6,600 rpm and 145 Nm of torque. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a CVT – it does the century sprint in 10.5 seconds, and tops out at 195 km/h.

    Curious to find out what we think of the City? Check out our in-depth review (written and video formats!) of the City V. You can also see what we have to say about the range-topping City RS, here. For additional details, you may browse to look at each car’s equipment and specifications.

    GALLERY: 2021 Honda City V (without Sensing)

  • VIDEO REVIEW: 2021 Honda City V in Malaysia, RM87k

    If you’re on the market for a practical B-segment sedan, the fifth-generation Honda City is quite an easy car to recommend. Compared to its older brother, the GN2 model is more spacious and practical, better equipped, and pricing for the S, E and V is marginally reduced as well. As for the top RS e:HEV variant, well, let’s save that conversation for another day.

    Compared to its peers, the City V is currently priced at RM86,561, whereas the top-spec Almera VLT costs RM91,310. The Vios G, on the other hand, retails for RM87,584, and the top GR-S goes for RM95,284. If you’re considering the Mazda 2 Sedan, perhaps you’ll have to think twice with its RM103,670 asking price.

    There are many options, but few can match the level of spaciousness – and arguably performance – the new City offers. Under the bonnet is a peppier 1.5 litre DOHC i-VTEC engine, developing 121 PS and 145 Nm of torque. That puts it right up there in the segment, and a full 21% more power compared to the Almera’s 1.0 litre turbocharged three-potter.

    With a revised suspension geometry and wider tracks, the City rides better, with notable improvements achieved in secondary ride qualities and overall stability. Despite being the all-star choice, it is all but perfect. Watch our review to see what we think of the latest Honda City, or read a slightly more detailed account in our written piece. You may also browse its equipment and specifications on

  • REVIEW: Honda City RS e:HEV in Malaysia – RM106k

    REVIEW: Honda City RS e:HEV in Malaysia – RM106k

    The Honda City Hybrid has a soft spot in my heart. Not because I own one, but it was actually my maiden assignment upon joining the crew a little over four years back. Full circle moment right here.

    At the time, the City Sport Hybrid i-DCD was priced at RM89,200, which was big on value, especially considering the heightened performance and driver engagement it offered over the non-hybrid models. It also sat below the City V in the model range, so it wasn’t quite decked out, even though it should have been.

    FURTHER READING: Looking for Honda City 1.5 V review?

    Malaysia was the only market outside of Japan to get the Jazz and City i-DCD hybrids, so it stands to reason that Honda Malaysia was simply testing the waters back then. Just how eager are Malaysians to jump on the hybrid bandwagon? Do the majority of motorists care about fuel economy, or are they more obsessed with outright performance? Those must have been pressing concerns.

    While the answer to those questions may never be public knowledge, the arrival of the i-MMD hybrid heralds the unequivocal – an electric future. Remember, the City RS e:HEV made its global debut here in Malaysia, and Honda has invested millions to upgrade its production facilities in Pegoh, Melaka. The plant, which apparently matches the same levels of sophistication as Honda’s Japanese factories, can now produce i-MMD vehicles, so you best bet there will be more of those to come.

    You see, i-MMD is a completely different kind of hybrid. Its inherent design aligns much closer with a fully electric vehicle than a conventional series/parallel hybrid. But what on God’s green earth is Honda smoking to dare ask you for a six-figure cheque? For a B-segment sedan? Well, there’s plenty to unpack, so let’s talk.

    i-MMD explained

    Short for intelligent Multi-Mode Drive, i-MMD comprises the engine, an inverter, a small lithium-ion battery pack, and two electric motors. One is called the motor generator unit (MGU), and it’s directly connected to the engine. MGU acts as a starter and generates electrical energy to charge the battery. It can also provide additional juice to the larger electric motor when needed.

    The larger motor, known as the Traction Motor, is the car’s primary propulsion unit. It is quite a bit bigger than the i-DCD motor, producing the headlining output of 109 PS and 253 Nm. This is the actual output of the Traction Motor, and not a combined figure of the hybrid system.

    Like an electric car, a single-speed transmission regulates the Traction Motor, which is capable of spinning up to 13,300 rpm. There’s no transmission in the traditional sense, not even the belt and pulley CVT that is found on most Honda cars. The main byproduct of a typical multi-ratio gearbox is parasitic loss, something the i-MMD system aims to minimise. This means you don’t get to change gears, and the paddle shifters don’t work the way you expect them to.

    A very cursory understanding of i-MMD goes something like this – it’s basically an electric car, but with a 1.5 litre engine that acts as a generator to recharge the battery. The system is similar to Nissan’s e-Power range extender system, but the key difference between e-Power and i-MMD is that the combustion engine in the latter configuration can provide direct mechanical drive to the front wheels. Whereas with e-Power, the electric motor powers the car 100% of the time, and the engine’s sole purpose is to charge the battery.

    Still with us? Good. Here’s how it works

    REVIEW: Honda City RS e:HEV in Malaysia – RM106k

    Multi-Mode Drive refers to three drive modes – EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive. These are non driver selectable and are instead engaged automatically by the Power Control Unit (a computer, basically).

    EV Drive is the dominant mode by default, handling the majority of uses cases up to 80 km/h. Here, the engine switches on and off fairly regularly, but its function during low to moderate speeds is primarily to charge the battery.

    The battery itself is a fairly small unit, perhaps no more than 1 or 2 kWh in density. You’ll get between two to three kilometres of pure silent driving when it’s fully charged, but this is only achievable when you’re decelerating over a longer distance, such as when approaching a toll booth.

    REVIEW: Honda City RS e:HEV in Malaysia – RM106k

    At motorway speeds (between 80 km/h to 120 km/h), a clutch will completely disengage the electric part of the powertrain and run solely in Engine Drive mode. The engine – a lean burning 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle with 98 PS and 127 Nm – also operates at a fixed ratio, much like the sixth gear of an automatic transmission. This keeps the engine running within its most efficient range, and the direct transfer of mechanical energy minimises frictional losses that would occur in a multi-ratio gearbox.

    That leaves the third mode, Hybrid Drive. This occurs when the Traction Motor draws electrical power directly from the motor generator unit, providing a slight accelerative boost for climbing steep ascents or overtaking, as well as when driving above 120 km/h.

    Honda claims i-MMD offers up to 40% better fuel efficiency in real world driving compared to conventionally-powered vehicles. It capitalises on the most efficient ranges of an electric powertrain and petrol engine, creating a seemingly complex package that gives owners the best of both worlds. And it works surprisingly seamlessly, too.

    What is it like to drive in the real world?

    REVIEW: Honda City RS e:HEV in Malaysia – RM106k

    Based on our testing, we averaged about 3.8 litres per 100 km, or 26.3 km/l in mixed driving conditions. There’s probably some room for improvement, so long term owners can make it their mission to match or even beat Honda’s claimed average of 3.6 l/100 km.

    As for performance, well, let’s just say i-MMD is not the performance hybrid that you’ve been led to believe. It will reportedly outpace the regular City in the century sprint (9.9 seconds vs 10.2 seconds), but they feel similarly powerful at the end of the day. The City’s upgraded twin-cam mill is excellent, if a bit boisterous, and actually feels just a bit more sprightly during “in-gear” acceleration.

    You see, the i-MMD hybrid is a bigger tree hugger than the i-DCD Sport Hybrid, which had a seven-speed dry DCT and a “Sport” mode button. With the City RS, you get an eco switch, and the shift paddles lets you choose between three incrementally aggressive levels of regenerative braking. You won’t get the one pedal operation like on the Nissan Leaf and MINI Electric, but it’s pretty close.

    Electric motors often make big torque numbers, giving automakers the convenience of marketing them as performance-oriented. Sure, 253 Nm sounds plenty healthy for a B-segment car, but you don’t get 253 Nm all the time. It’s situational (taking into account driving speed and battery charge levels), and remember, i-MMD is supposed to be an efficient system, so the PCU is obviously programmed to provide peak torque only when required.

    The one caveat to this multi-mode drive is its unwavering duty to maximise propulsion efficiency. Let’s say you’re driving at 80 km/h and you want to overtake a dimwitted middle-lane hogger. You depress the throttle pedal, but the i-MMD system doesn’t give you the instantaneous response expected from a hybrid.

    Instead, what the PCU has to do is release the clutch, switch from Engine Mode to Hybrid Mode, and signal the Traction Motor to get to work. This series of communication causes a near second-long delay before the powertrain begins to respond to your right foot, which is a lot like a bad turbo lag. This only happens when it’s in Engine Drive mode, though.

    There’s also a bit of sensory adjustments needed to get used to i-MMD. It does away with the linearity of a conventional combustion engine, and when the engine switches on to charge the battery, it revs at a constant speed, which is audibly louder than the normal idling range. You’ll definitely hear the engine at lower speeds, but when you’re cruising, the switch is virtually imperceptible. Just smooth, refined and not intrusive.

    The hybrid also handles quite competently despite weighing over 120 kg compared to the base City. It’s not quite as engaging to drive as the City Sport Hybrid i-DCD, but with a firmer suspension and wider tracks, it keeps its composure well, albeit with a slight propensity to understeer at the limit. Ride quality feels a bit more solid overall, and secondary ride feels more matured than before. Brake tuning remains impeccably calibrated for that natural feel. Shame about that tyre roar, though.

    But is it worth nearly RM20k more than the City V?

    Its six-figure asking price seems ridiculous for a CKD model, but whether or not it is justifiable can be debated. For RM20k more, you get i-MMD, exclusive RS exterior and interior styling, four disc brakes with electronic parking brake switch, and Honda Sensing.

    It’s the closest experience you’ll get to driving a fully electric car for the money. For some people, the styling and tech alone are good enough to seal the deal, with the faultless Honda Sensing being an added bonus. But at this price range, it’s really not for everyone.

    See, the City V is already a very complete B-segment sedan. For a bit more money, the Vios G and GR-S are strong contenders with slightly better kit, and every single variant of the Almera ships with autonomous emergency braking as standard. Those looking for the most engaging car to drive in this price range will likely pony up for the Mazda 2, or look past the sedans altogether and just wait in line for the Proton X50 Flagship.

    Advanced though it may be, the City RS e:HEV is undeniably in a tough spot. i-MMD is a well-engineered, highly efficient hybrid system, offering benefits that few will even be wary of. But as you can clearly tell, the complexity of such a sophisticated system comes at a cost, and not one I would be willing to pay.

    As we have alluded to earlier, the future will be an electric one, and all it takes for an i-MMD model to be fully electric is to put in a larger battery, install a more powerful inverter, downsize the engine and have it act solely as a range extender. Regardless of what the reception is for the City RS i-MMD in Malaysia, there’s a good chance this gamble will pay off in the coming years. So, what do you think?

  • Honda City 2021 vs 2020 – new GN compared to old GM generation in Malaysia, a side-by-side gallery

    Honda City 2021 vs 2020 – new GN compared to old GM generation in Malaysia, a side-by-side gallery

    You’ve seen the comparison of the currrent Honda City and Toyota Vios yesterday, where we put the latest, sportiest and costliest variants of the two B-segment sedan stalwarts side-by-side. The top City you can buy today is the RM106k e:HEV RS Hybrid, while Vios range topper is the RM95k GR-S. Gazoo Racing is now the sporty brand for Toyota, replacing TRD Sportivo in our region.

    Check that one out if you haven’t already done so, but for a sizeable portion of B-segment sedan buyers – those who have already set their minds on the Honda – perhaps they’ll be asking themselves – which City?

    For this, we brought two hybrids to the party, and we’ll start with a recap of the previous generation car, which was in local showrooms till 2020. This City Hybrid was launched in July 2017, a few months after the facelifted GM surfaced in Malaysia. Priced at RM89,200, it slotted between the RM84,600 mid-spec E and the RM92,000 top-spec V. By the way, Malaysia was the only market outside of Japan to officially introduce this car – the JDM Grace Hybrid was launched in the same month.

    Honda City 2021 vs 2020 – new GN compared to old GM generation in Malaysia, a side-by-side gallery

    Like its Jazz sister, the last-gen City Hybrid had a Sport Hybrid i-DCD (Intelligent Dual-Clutch Drive) system combining a 1.5 litre engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with an integrated electric motor, a lithium-ion hybrid battery and an electric driven compressor.

    The Atkinson cycle DOHC i-VTEC engine puts out 110 PS and 134 Nm of torque. Together with the 30 PS (22 kW)/160 Nm e-motor, combined output is 137 PS and 170 Nm. Honda claimed that the Sport Hybrid i-DCD delivers performance equal to that of a conventional 1.8 litre NA engine, but with much lower fuel consumption. The claimed official FC figure is 3.9 litres per 100 km, or 25.6 km/l. No reduction of capacity for the mega sized boot – still 536 litres.

    The latest GN generation City was launched here in October last year. The e:HEV RS Hybrid was used as the hero car for the ads and launch event, but it wasn’t until March 2021 that it went on sale. This time, the Hybrid is the range topper, and a clear one too in terms of appearance (RS), specs and price (RM105,950 with SST exemption).

    Honda City 2021 vs 2020 – new GN compared to old GM generation in Malaysia, a side-by-side gallery

    It’s all new under the hood, with a complete shift in how things work. Instead of the electric motor assisting the ICE, like in the old IMA and i-DCD, the e:HEV’s two-motor i-MMD hybrid system uses the 108 PS/253 Nm electric motor to move the car most of the time. Meanwhile, the 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC engine is used mainly as a generator to charge the battery, which powers the motor. Total system output is 126 PS.

    The ICE can also clutch in via a single-speed transmission (no more DCT) to drive the car directly at higher speeds, where it is most efficient. During high loads, such as when overtaking, both power sources can be called upon for max acceleration. Because the ICE powers the car directly in certain situations, i-MMD is unlike Nissan’s e-Power range extender EV system.

    MMD stands for Multi-Mode Drive, and there are three drive modes. The car always starts off in EV Drive mode, in silence. You’ll hear the engine spring to life occasionally to recharge the 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery, which powers the traction motor.

    During full acceleration, you’ll enter Hybrid Drive mode. The traction motor is still the main mover here, but the engine will rev higher to pump more juice into the battery. Engine Drive is when the engine takes over from the traction motor to power the wheels during high speed cruising.

    While Honda previously used a 1.8L NA engine as acceleration comparison for the i-DCD, the company went as far as using the Toyota Camry – which has a 2.5L NA engine – in its ads for the City e:HEV RS Hybrid. More important for a hybrid is economy, and FC is rated at 3.77 litres per 100 km, or 26.5 km/l. That’s an improvement, but the new City Hybrid’s IPU (intelligent power unit) is located at the rear, which reduces boot volume to 409 litres (down 110L). It also comes with a tyre repair kit in place of a space saver spare wheel.

    The hybrid only takes up a small proportion of City sales – most go straight to the 1.5 litre i-VTEC NA engine, which makes 121 PS/145 Nm. Now a DOHC unit with VTC, it’s mated to a CVT gearbox.

    The fifth-gen GN City 111 mm longer (4,553 mm) and 54 mm wider (1,748 mm) than the sedan it replaces. The larger footprint is coupled with a 10 mm lower height, and an unchanged wheelbase of 2,600 mm long. You can see here that shapes of both cars are slightly different.

    The GN has a taller front end (plus a prominent ‘forehead’), and from there, the belt line that connects head to tail lamp is straight. Likewise, the windowline. In contrast, all the profile lines on the GM are rising towards the back, which is taller at the boot than the new car. This is obvious in the side-by-side pics, along with the new car’s slightly lower roofline. No one would be mistaking these two City generations for one another, even in the same Modern Steel Metallic grey. Looks wise, which do you prefer?

    Finally, price. The new City e:HEV RS Hybrid shocked some when its RM105,950 price was announced. That’s understandable, because it’s over the RM100k mental barrier that we have for CKD B-segment mass market cars, and we’ve been conditioned to expect low prices for hybrids.

    Honda City 2021 vs 2020 – new GN compared to old GM generation in Malaysia, a side-by-side gallery

    This is a Malaysian consumer quirk, as hybrids pack in more hardware and tech, and they naturally cost more than a regular ICE version. Honda Malaysia has revealed before that the GM Hybrid would have been priced above RM100k if not for hybrid tax incentives. Typically, hybrids are also positioned at the top of the range, which the e:HEV RS is now.

    Compared to the petrol-powered City, these hybrids packs in a lot more tech, and in the case of today’s e:HEV RS, more kit and sportier looks as well. The RM19k premium over the 1.5V also buys you unique 16-inch two-tone wheels, rear disc brakes, electric parking brake with auto brake hold, digital instrument panel, leather interior with red stitching, aluminium pedals and the Honda Sensing driver assist safety pack.

    Perhaps not the best City in terms of value, but if you’re intrigued by the e:HEV RS Hybrid’s eco tech, you’ll also be treated to a very safe and well-kitted family car, and one that can ahem, outrun D-segment sedans with big engines too!

    GALLERY: 2021 Honda City e:HEV RS Hybrid

    GALLERY: 2017 Honda City Hybrid

  • 2021 Honda City vs Toyota Vios in Malaysia – sportiest RM106k e:HEV RS hybrid and RM95k GR Sport shown

    2021 Honda City vs Toyota Vios in Malaysia – sportiest RM106k e:HEV RS hybrid and RM95k GR Sport shown

    The Honda City and Toyota Vios have been fierce rivals over the past few decades, and while the advent of affordable national SUVs means that they aren’t the industry titans they once were, the arrival of two brand-new models is still a very big deal. Here, we have the top-of-the-range variants, offering the sportiest looks and the highest-performing powertrains (well, sort of).

    In the H corner, you have the all-new fifth-generation City sedan, seen here in RS trim with the novel e:HEV hybrid system. Challenging it for top honours for the T brand is the third-generation Vios in its latest facelifted guise, dressed to the nines in full GR Sport garb – it’s the first model to wear the badge here.

    Despite its much sportier design, it’s the Vios that’s the cheapest of the two, retailing at RM95,294 on-the-road without insurance. The high-tech, high-voltage City is a full RM10,000 dearer, coming in at a steep RM105,950. Both prices include a full sales and service tax (SST) rebate, as they are CKD locally assembled – the Honda in Pegoh, Melaka, the Toyota in Shah Alam.

    Let’s start with the headline figures first. The City technically holds the power advantage with a total system output of 126 PS, but not without a few caveats. Most of the time, the car is motivated by a torquey 108 PS/253 Nm electric motor, while its 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC four-cylinder engine is used mainly as a generator to charge the battery and juice the motor.

    2021 Honda City vs Toyota Vios in Malaysia – sportiest RM106k e:HEV RS hybrid and RM95k GR Sport shown

    The petrol mill can also clutch in via a single-speed transmission to drive the car directly at higher speeds, where it is most efficient. The car can also engage both power sources when more oomph is required, such as when overtaking – that’s when the e:HEV RS reaches maximum power.

    The Vios trades all that complexity for a relatively simple 1.5 litre Dual VVT-i four-pot, shared with the rest of the range and producing 107 PS at 6,000 rpm and 140 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. Sure, it’s a little old-school and the figures don’t exactly jump off the page, but there are no electrics and no fuss.

    A CVT once again takes up transmission duties, but it’s been retuned for the GR Sport. The number of virtual ratios has increased from seven to ten, accessible in the upgraded Sport mode that also holds onto gears for longer before “shifting up”. You can also take manual control using either the paddle shifters or the gearlever.

    As mentioned, the City is all-new from the ground up, sharing its bones with the latest Jazz (unfortunately not sold here) and new HR-V. Its honey-I-shrunk-the-FC-Civic design has been augmented with the RS (short for Road Sailing, apparently) kit that includes a honeycomb grille, a black grille bar, finned fog light surrounds and a sportier rear bumper design with a fake carbon fibre diffuser. Completing the aesthetic are 16-inch alloy wheels in a two-tone finish instead of the V variant‘s all-silver affair.

    The Vios retains the same fluid design as before, but with a new front fascia that provides a more aggressive (and, dare I say it, handsome) appearance. Gone is the massive grin of the outgoing model, replaced by a downturned maw that goes well with the slim upper grille and trapezoidal headlights – now fitted with LEDs as standard across the range.

    The Toyota is also the sportier-looking of the two cars here, as befits the GR Sport badging. The deep chin spoiler and large fake corner air intakes give the car more than a passing resemblance to the full-fat GR Yaris, while the side and rear skirting, the gloss black “moustache” rear bumper insert and a prominent gloss black bootlid spoiler continue the theme. The multi-spoke wheels are an inch larger than on the G model (and the City RS), measuring a massive 17 inches in diameter.

    Inside, the differences continue, with the City sporting a clean horizontal dashboard design and a smattering of soft-touch leather trim to improve perceived quality. The Vios, on the other hand, features the same dashboard it has used since 2018, with hard plastics, fake stitching and a conventional centre console.

    Moving on to the infotainment, both models come with aftermarket head units, although the Honda’s built-in system trumps the Toyota’s double-DIN unit in terms of touchscreen size – eight inches across versus seven. However, both support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Vios also has the benefit of a 360-degree camera system instead of the City’s single reverse camera.

    Both the RS and GR Sport models net you black leather-and-suede upholstery and red stitching, although the Toyota goes one further with GR headrest embroidery, a GR-branded starter button and floor mats, illuminated tread plates and a GR startup screen on the 4.2-inch multi-info display for some extra kudos. The Honda doesn’t have any of those flourishes but counters by having a seven-inch part-digital instrument cluster with hybrid-specific displays.

    Honda City e:HEV RS (left) and Toyota Vios GR Sport (right)

    Being range-topping models, both the City and Vios are kitted to the brim with LED headlights, fog lights and taillights, keyless entry, push-button start, single-zone automatic climate control and front arm rests. The Honda gets rear air vents and an additional two speakers (eight speakers, instead of six for the Toyota), while the Toyota receives an (optional) Qi wireless charger, front parking sensors, a front dash cam and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror; otherwise they’re even-stevens.

    These cars also star on the safety front, with both coming with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning. The full Honda Sensing suite also adds adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist and automatic high beam. While the Vios has a blind spot monitor, the City has a LaneWatch camera, but without any warning function. A minimum of six airbags (seven for the Vios) and stability control are standard-fit.

    So, which do you prefer? Are you Team Honda or Team Toyota? Sound off in the comments section after the jump. Of course, we’ve driven these cars and you can look forward to both written and video reviews of each of these two cars, so stay tuned for more.

    GALLERY: Honda City e:HEV RS
    GALLERY: Toyota Vios GR Sport

  • REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    If you’re dipping your toes into the sub-RM100k brand new car market for the first time, the sheer amount of options can be somewhat daunting. Choice overload, they say.

    It’s easy to be swayed by the Proton X50‘s value proposition, and for a lot of people, there’s really no need for anything more than a Perodua Myvi. Those eyeing for a bit of brand prestige, however, can seriously consider getting a non-national sedan, because now is really a good time to look around.

    FURTHER READING: Looking for Honda City RS Hybrid review?

    There’s the excellent Nissan Almera turbo which we have reviewed and loved, the hot new Toyota Vios GR-S, the Mazda 2 facelift, as well as the all-new, fifth-generation Honda City.

    There are four variants on offer, with prices ranging from RM74k for the entry-level S, all the way to RM106k for the range-topping RS e:HEV hybrid.

    The RS aside, the S, E and V models are actually cheaper than their previous-generation GM6 counterparts, each packing more features and performance than before. You’ll want to browse through our detailed spec-by-spec breakdown of the City here, or watch our walk-around video for a more presentational tour.

    For this review, we’re taking a look at the City V, which has traditionally been the range-topping model. With SST exemptions, it’s now priced at RM86,561, making it nearly RM20,000 cheaper than the City RS. By comparison, the top-spec Almera VLT goes for RM91,310, the Vios G for RM87,584 (GR-S is RM95,284), and the Mazda 2 Sedan costs RM103,670.

    So, what’s to like?

    REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    Judging by value alone, the City V is off to a good start. Honda doubled down on premium features for this generation, fitting the V with full LED headlights. Yeah, full LED. Everything up front is LED, and not a single halogen bulb is used. That’s already a clear advantage over all its B-segment sedan rivals. It has a likeable face – elegant, with no overbearing sporting pretensions.

    However, some of us at the team prefer the more proportionate exterior shell of the older model. The new City looks a tad too bloated in the middle and soft towards the back, though the net effect of this is a much airier and spacious rear seating. Again, looks is entirely a subjective thing, but if you had to ask me, I much prefer the exterior design of the Almera.

    Thankfully, the rear end makes for a pleasant sight. The LED combination tail lights are striking, never mind the fact that they look so similar to those on the G20 BMW 3 Series. The City’s bulbous midsection could have very well ruined the flow of sheet metal towards the back (like the Persona, or worse, the 207 Sedan), but it turned out to be a good look. It most certainly does not need the Modulo bodykit.

    The V sits on 16-inch alloy wheels that is similar in design to the RS, minus the dual-tone finish. Factory tyres are Toyo Proxes R57 (185/55 profile), though a peek inside the front and rear wheel wells reveal a rather barren sight. There’s not much in the way of insulation or plastic mudguards, but unfortunately, that’s quite typical of cars in this segment and price range.

    Several locally-assembled Honda models seem to be plagued with the occasional stiff door hinges and wacky catchment systems, the latter causing peculiar difficulties in closing the doors completely shut. These are either QC oversight or issues on the supply side, but have to be urgently looked into either way. Our test car (worn in with over 3,000 km on the clock) had stiff hinges, but thankfully the doors all shut properly without a hitch.

    The keyless entry system is spot on, though. Both front doors feature touch capacitive sensors on the inside of the handles to unlock the vehicle, and a rubberised button on the outside to lock. Fairly foolproof, this.

    Well-designed interior, spacious and modern

    Inside, there’s a lot to love. The cockpit is completely revamped, featuring minimally-designed analogue gauges with crisp texts and subtle eco indicators in the corners, offering great legibility. There’s something intrinsically pleasant about the simplicity of the instrumentation, even though it looks painfully basic in pictures. It’s one of those things that look better in real life.

    And then we have the steering wheel. It’s chunky, nicely contoured and the leather wrapping is top notch. The buttons also feel much more premium in feel and tactility compared to the Civic FC. There are shift paddles here, and even those are made from high quality plastic.

    The reshaped seats are supportive in all the right areas, with key pressure points like the bum and lower back area getting perforated leather. The foams used are dense and not overly supple, which likely mean they could be less prone to deformation over years of seat time. In any case, the seats are a big upgrade from before, and easily among the best in class.

    REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    It goes without saying by now that Honda is a master of its “Man Maximum, Machine Minimum” design philosophy. It’s clear with this GN2 generation that the engineers prioritised development on features that its customers value the most, such as cabin spaciousness.

    This is evident not just in terms of the sheer space the occupants get, but rather the design ingenuity that is hardly matched by its peers. For example, the dashboard appears as though it’s suspended in mid air, with little to nothing to obstruct the driver and front passenger’s legs from moving underneath.

    The driver’s seating position, even at its lowest setting, feels unnaturally high. But it’s a city car (no pun intended), so a slightly elevated driving position is what City owners look for. Plus, visibility is great all around – the wing mirrors are now mounted lower on the doors, and the A-pillars surprisingly doesn’t get in the way of view as well. It’s all the little things, but it gets better.

    The head unit is now much, much nicer than the previous model. It’s better integrated, and is larger as well, measuring eight inches diagonally. A 1080p display it is not, but touch response has vastly improved, plus it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. Both systems require a wired connection, and during our testing, CarPlay worked flawlessly, and with minimal latency. The buttons on the right are nice to have, too.

    One of the most unanticipated improvements is the speakers. The V and RS get eight in total (four for the S and E), and they sound amazing, even without fiddling with the equalisers. Honda cars haven’t really had good speakers for a long time (in Malaysia at least), but we’re really not kidding when we said they focus on things that matter to me and you. Big props to Honda for that.

    Despite having the same 2,600-mm wheelbase as before, the rear quarters is actually more spacious this time, and feels more airy thanks to the reshaped front seats. All variants get rear centre air vents and two 12-volt power sockets as standard, and on the whole it’s just a really massive place. The foot area is cut deeper into the floor, so your legs can now rest fully on the bench. Having this much space really makes the Mazda 2 seem tiny in comparison, like a smart car, almost.

    It’s not all a bed of roses, of course. See, the top of the dashboard is too flat. It is the result of a deliberate design decision to maximise forward visibility, but in doing so, it makes the top dash look cheap. The door panel design is uninspiringly utilitarian, and nearly every surface is made from hard plastic.

    There’s still no auto up-down for all four windows, no lights for the vanity mirrors, and cabin lighting is halogen bulbs instead of LEDs. The infotainment display, as good of a unit it is, faces dead towards the back instead of being slightly angled towards the driver. Viewing angles are decent for the most part, but you won’t like it when it catches the sun.

    Another area that feels cheap is the boot area, with nothing but a felt-lined plywood panel to cover the spare wheel well. It all screams super budget, but hey, at least you get 519 litres of boot space. That’s class leading, by the way, even if it’s 17 litres down from before.

    Same underpinnings, but slightly better driving experience

    REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    Mechanically, the new City shares the same platform as the previous model. The engine is upgraded, though, now being a dual overhead cam unit instead of single. The 1.5 litre NA mill delivers 121 PS and 145 Nm of torque, so there’s a scant 1 PS gain. That’s right up there in the segment, mind you, and a full 20% more power compared to the Almera’s turbocharged three-potter.

    The engine is definitely more refined while idling, possibly quieter at idle compared to the Vios. There’s not much in the way of vibrations that can be felt through the foot pedals and steering wheel, too. How uncharacteristic of the City, but boy do we welcome that.

    Performance-wise, the engine feels a bit more eager and athletic than before. It requires a bit of coaxing when driving at lower speeds, something the Almera’s turbocharger makes light work of. However, at urban cruising speeds (that’s usually 80 km/h, you unruly speedsters), the City is in its best form.

    “In-gear” acceleration is particularly strong at 60 km/h and above, providing ample power and pace for overtaking. At full pelt, the CVT consistently maintains engine revs between 4,000 to 6,000 rpm, building respectable pace all the way to 140 km/h. The Almera would have huffed a little, and it shows.

    REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    We managed a century sprint time of around 11.5 seconds with the Almera turbo, whereas the City gets there in about 10.2 seconds. It’s absolutely not underpowered at all, especially not for a B-segment sedan weighing under 1,200 kg. This is also good news for the upcoming BR-V.

    Under load, the DOHC engine does get a bit loud, and at full whack you get both the engine noise and CVT drone in one fat undesirable serving. This isn’t a realistic driving scenario for most people, but something worth noting nonetheless. We dare say the City’s engine is among the most peppy in its class, perhaps second only to Mazda 2’s 1.5 SkyActiv-G.

    Objectively, there’s nothing wrong with this CVT, but the 10-speed CVT in the Vios GR-S makes for a better driver’s car. It’s actually the better car to drive considering the added advantages of the suspension upgrades, plus the 10-speed CVT provides a more granular control over engine speeds.

    REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    That said, the City feels more modern and wieldable. Suspension tuning is firmer, too, despite using a similar MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam setup at the back. While it’s similarly sprung, there are revisions made to the geometric design of the suspension, taking into account the added width.

    Because of that, the City feels a tad more stable in the corners and on the highways, but it’s still not quite as darty and chuckable as the Mazda 2. As it stands, the 2 is still the most engaging B-segment sedan to drive, by a mile, and the Almera is the most comfortable. The City remains a fairly capable all-rounder, and there’s nothing wrong with a spacious car that does it all.

    Noise levels can get pretty rough when you’re driving over 80 km/h. That’s either from the tyres or the lack of insulation in the wheel wells, or both. There’s also a really unpleasant trickling noise in the B-pillars when it’s raining. How odd.

    Is the safety kit adequate?

    REVIEW: 2021 Honda City 1.5 V in Malaysia – RM87k

    Well, for the safety features, the City V gets Honda LaneWatch for the first time. It’s nice to have, but not necessarily a feature that benefits everyone. For myself, I find the position of the centre screen to be way below eye level (the same applies for most other Honda cars), so I find the use of the good old defensive driving practices more comforting for most urban driving scenarios.

    The LaneWatch camera itself isn’t the most high-resolution, but it’s completely usable during the day. At night, it’s next to useless in pitch black settings, so best refrain from being too reliant on it. Otherwise, the City V ships with the usual six airbags, reverse camera (with three viewing angles), as well as two Isofix child seat anchors with top mounts at the back.

    This is one area the City falls short of its competitors. The City V doesn’t get Honda Sensing, so it’s missing crucial features such as autonomous emergency braking, which can now be found on the Vios E and G, as well as the entire Almera line-up. The Vios is better kitted in this regard, so if safety is your top concern, the only City worth your while is the top RS variant.

    Closing thoughts

    As you know, the City RS is the only one that’s exclusively offered with Honda Sensing. We’ll be reviewing that car in further detail soon, and we’re really curious to find out if the whole i-MMD hybrid tech, sporty looks and Honda Sensing is worth RM20k more.

    But as it stands, the City V is proving to be the default top choice for most people, and we really think it is a good car. Let’s just hope they fix those small QC niggles, but we’re willing to bet those won’t be deal breakers to many people. If you like it, go for it. If you don’t, tell us why in the comments below.

  • Honda City RS e:HEV now on sale in Malaysia, RM106k

    Honda City RS e:HEV now on sale in Malaysia, RM106k

    Honda Malaysia has announced that sales of the City RS e:HEV have officially begun. The hybrid was launched alongside the petrol variants when the fifth-gen City made its local debut in October last year and was slated to go on sale in January. However, its market introduction was delayed, and it wasn’t until yesterday that its arrival today was hinted at, when the company debuted its Honda Connect vehicle telematics system.

    First off, the price, which the company said last year would be announced when the car went on sale. The range-topping City RS e:HEV is priced at RM105,950, on-the-road without insurance, but with the sales tax exemption that is in place until June 30.

    This makes the Road Sailing variant more than RM19k costlier than the top-spec petrol version, the V, which goes for RM86,561. The other variants in the four-model City range available locally consists of the E and S petrol versions, priced at RM81,664 and RM74,191 respectively.

    A recap on what’s to be found on the RS. The variant features an exclusive styling pack that consists of a gloss black front grille with a honeycomb mesh, carbon-pattern trim on the front lip and rear diffuser, sporty front fog lamp garnish as well as mirror covers and a ducktail spoiler finished in gloss black. It’s also the only City to ride on dual-tone 16-inch alloy wheels (185/55 tyres) and come with rear disc brakes.

    Honda City RS e:HEV now on sale in Malaysia, RM106k

    Standard equipment includes automatic LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights and fog lamps as well as LED rear lights. Also on, keyless entry with push start, single-zone auto air-conditioning, rear air-con vents, steering audio buttons and an 8.0-inch touchscreen head unit with (wired) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity with an eight-speaker audio system.

    Unique to the RS is a 7.0-inch digital meter panel with hybrid-specific displays, part leather and “Ultrasuede” seats, red stitching (steering wheel, gear lever area, centre tunnel and dashboard), a deceleration selector paddle for i-MMD and aluminium sport pedals. The RS is also the only variant to feature a black headliner and an auto-brake hold feature.

    The RS is powered by a intelligent multi-mode drive (i-MMD) powertrain, which replaces the previous generation i-DCD. The system consists of a 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine with 98 PS and 127 Nm, working in conjunction with two motors. The engine functions mainly as a generator with the help of an integrated electric motor, which also acts as a starter.

    A larger second motor, which churns out 108 PS and 253 Nm, sends drive to the wheels. However, the engine can provide direct drive during high speeds as it’s more efficient than the motor in that situation. Performance figures include a 0-100 km/h time of 9.9 seconds and a 173 km/h top speed, and fuel consumption is rated at 3.77 litres per 100 km, or 26.5 km/l.

    Safety-wise, the RS is equipped with six airbags, VSA, hill start assist, emergency stop signal and the automaker’s LaneWatch left-side camera. It’s also the only City variant to come with Honda Sensing, which makes its debut in the segment for Honda in Malaysia.

    The full suite of driver assist and active safety kit includes Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Mitigation Braking System (autonomous emergency braking, or AEB), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Auto High-Beam (AHB).

    Although the Low Speed Follow (LSF) function has been omitted, the Sensing suite on the City gets a wider view camera to better recognise road boundaries, and the system now comes with pedestrian and cyclist detection capability.

    The RS is also the first Honda model to feature Honda Connect locally. The vehicle telematics system offers users access to a variety of safety, security and convenience functions via a dedicated smartphone app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices. This allows owners to remain connected to their cars anywhere and anytime.

    Three exterior colours are available for the City RS e:HEV, and they are Modern Steel Metallic, Passion Red Pearl and Platinum White Pearl. The car comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty with five times free labour service, while the hybrid’s lithium-ion battery comes with a separate eight-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

    GALLERY: Honda City RS e:HEV

  • Honda City RS e:HEV – fifth-gen flagship hybrid to finally make its Malaysian market debut tomorrow

    Honda City RS e:HEV – fifth-gen flagship hybrid to finally make its Malaysian market debut tomorrow

    Honda Malaysia is finally set to give the City RS e:HEV its market debut. The range-topping model of the fifth-gen sedan in the local line-up was formally introduced when the City made its local debut in October last year, but at point of launch it had been announced that it was due to go on sale in January.

    That of course never happened, the delay in introducing the hybrid being put down to some issues with pricing. This has finally been resolved, and we understand that the RS is due to have its Malaysian market introduction tomorrow, when pricing for the car will also be announced. The RS will sit atop a four model City range that includes the S, E and V petrol variants.

    The arrival of the variant was hinted at in the press announcement on the Honda Connect vehicle telematics system, which was launched earlier today. It was mentioned that the system is making its local debut on the City RS e:HEV from this month.

    To recap, the RS e:HEV is powered by a intelligent multi-mode drive (i-MMD) powertrain. The hybrid system consists of a 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, which does not power the car but functions mainly as a generator with the help of an integrated electric motor (which also acts as a starter).

    A larger second motor, which churns out 109 PS and 253 Nm, provides propulsion. Because the electric motor mostly drives the car, the i-MMD system does away with a traditional gearbox, but 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. More on the RS, including its price, when it is officially introduced.

    GALLERY: Honda City RS e:HEV

  • 2020 Nissan Almera Turbo vs Honda City 1.5L, Proton X50 – we compare maintenance costs up to 100k km

    2020 Nissan Almera Turbo vs Honda City 1.5L, Proton X50 – we compare maintenance costs up to 100k km

    In Malaysia, there are currently three models that are likely to be on the watchlist of most car buyers looking for a B-segment car. These include the Proton X50 and Honda City, which were launched back in October, and joined by the Nissan Almera Turbo that went on sale earlier this month.

    While the City and Almera are direct competitors, the X50 caters towards those who favour SUVs instead of sedans. Nonetheless, these are the “hot” cars in the current climate, with prices that somewhat overlap one another: Almera (RM79,906-RM91,310); X50 (RM79,200-RM103,300); City (RM74,191-RM86,561).

    Deciding between the three is largely dependant on what you prefer and your budget, but that’s not the focus of this post. Instead, we’re comparing the servicing costs of the models mentioned here, so you are well informed before putting your money down on any one of them.

    Before we begin, some disclaimers. Firstly, we’ve already made a comparison involving the City and X50 before, so the only thing new here is the addition of the Almera to the picture. Secondly, the Almera’s service interval is shorter at 7,000 km/six months, compared to the other two that have an interval of 10,000 km/six months.

    2020 Nissan Almera Turbo vs Honda City 1.5L, Proton X50 – we compare maintenance costs up to 100k km

    Given that we typically compare service costs up to 100,000 km or five years, the Almera over 98,000 km (the closest to 100,000 km) runs up to seven years, two more than the City and X50. We’ll also mention service items that are required beyond that point, or are recommended by the carmaker.

    Referring to the total maintenance cost over five years alone, the Almera is significantly cheaper than both the City and X50. The reason for this huge discrepancy is because the Almera comes with five times free service that covers parts and labour, applicable to the 7,000-, 21,000-, 35,000-, 49,000- and 63,000-km mileages.

    This isn’t offered with the other two, although they do come with five times free labour service – only applicable to the first 30,000 customers for the X50. This omits the labour cost for major services, which helps the keep ownerships cost down, as the Almera’s free service only covers engine oil changes, windscreen washer refills and cabin filter replacements.

    So, over five years, the Almera is certainly cheaper to own, but if we compare costs over mileage, things are a little different. Up to 98,000 km, the Almera is costlier to maintain compared to the City, but is still cheaper than the X50.

    2020 Nissan Almera Turbo vs Honda City 1.5L, Proton X50 – we compare maintenance costs up to 100k km

    Click to enlarge

    Both the Almera and X50 use fully-synthetic engine oil, while the City gets semi-synthetic lubricant as standard. However, Honda customers can request for fully-synthetic oil for their City, which brings up the price to RM130.80 (including drain plug gasket), to a grand total over 100,000 km/five years to RM3,830.81. Even with that, the City is still the cheapest of the lot to maintain, although by a smaller margin.

    Looking at the individual tables, the City requires fewer engine oil filter changes compared to the Almera and X50, which require a replacement at every service interval. The X50 sees its engine air filter changed the most at five times, but it’s only three times for the Almera and City, with the Nissan sedan having the lowest part price.

    Similarly, over 100,000 km, the Proton SUV requires the cabin filter to be swapped out five times, compared to four times for the Almera, and three times for the City – although the overall difference in cost is just a few ringgits.

    As for transmission oil, Nissan recommends new CVT oil every 84,000 km or 48 months, whichever comes first. Meanwhile, the X50 only replaces its DCT oil at the 90,000-km/54-month mark, whereas the City’s CVT needs new lube at the 40,000-km/24-month intervals. At a cost of RM413.75 (including the plug washer and before labour), the Almera is the priciest when it comes to transmission oil replacement, followed by the City and X50.

    Of the three cars, the Almera and X50 are powered by turbocharged three-cylinder engines, but the latter uses regular spark plugs – three of them – that are changed more frequently every 40,000 km/24 months. The Almera’s platinum spark plugs cost more, but are only changed at the 98,000-km/84-month mark, while the City uses four iridium spark plugs that are swapped out at the 100,000-km/60-month mark – the costliest out of all.

    Other notable mentions include fuel filter changes, which happen every 20,000 km for the X50, but the City only gets a new one at the 140,000-km/84-month mark, with nothing of the sort for the Almera. Nissan also recommends a coolant change for the Almera at 98,000 km/84 months, while the City does this at 200,000 km/ten years, and the X50 at 60,000 km/36 months.

    Other service items not stipulated in these tables include the Almera’s drive (serpentine) belt – the engine uses a timing chain – which Nissan recommends to be replaced (if necessary) every 28,000 km or 24 months at a cost of RM151 (including RM14 labour). Other recommended services include wheel alignment (RM30) and balancing (RM35) every 21,000 km or 12 months.

    Nissan also quotes RM387 (including RM42 labour) for front brake pads and RM412 (including RM63 labour) for rear brake shoes, although these items will only be replaced upon inspection and if deemed necessary. The City uses a timing chain and the maintenance schedule doesn’t include a drive belt, while the X50 needs a new timing (RM195.16) and drive (serpentine) belt (RM112.89) at 110,000 km/66 months.

    As usual, servicing costs are just one aspect of vehicle ownership, and there are plenty of other things to consider. General wear and tears items like tyres are a good example, which would be cheaper for the sedans mentioned that have wheel sizes ranging from 15 to 16 inches, while the X50’s alloys are between 17 to 18 inches in size.

    The braking system on the Almera and City also employ two discs at the front and drum brakes at the rear, which would be cheaper to maintain compared to the X50’s four disc brakes. There’s more, as given their differing body styles, the cost of tinting and coating is typically less for sedans, and this also extend to car washes, which is something that follows you throughout ownership. The frequency and distance of travel will also impact how much fuel you use.

    Looking at the tables, the City is indeed the cheapest of the three to maintain over 100,000 km, but there’s more to add to the conversation. Yes, if you own an Almera and use it heavily (high mileage user), you’ll be visiting the service centre more frequently given its shorter mileage service interval.

    However, if you’re the the sort that usually services your car based on the time interval (every six months, as in you drive less than 7,000/10,000 km in the time), the Almera will prove to be the cheaper to maintain by quite a margin, up to the five-year mark.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that these costs are spread out over the years, so in the end, the difference isn’t that significant. Be that as it may, it’s good to have some understanding of maintenance costs and their importance when buying a new car.

  • Honda City sales numbers in Malaysia – from Toyota Vios alternative to B-segment leader in 4 generations

    Honda City sales numbers in Malaysia – from Toyota Vios alternative to B-segment leader in 4 generations

    Last week, Honda Malaysia announced that the new City has amassed close to 9,000 bookings. That’s a big number when you consider that the car was launched just slightly more than a month ago on October 13, and the number of options available below RM100k today, which is unprecedented.

    The Honda City is a stalwart in the B-segment sedan class, the default choice even, so the latest fifth-generation model has a fair bit of “name” to ride on. But it wasn’t always like that – back in the day, the Toyota Vios was a leader in what was a fresh segment for the Japanese marques – the sub-Civic/Corolla sedan. The City clawed away at the Vios’ head start, gen by gen, before overhauling its big rival.

    Here, we take a look at the Malaysian sales numbers of the City and Vios through the generations. Toyota’s history here started in 2003 with the first-generation Vios, although this “Britney Spears Vios” (those who are old enough, remember the ads?) wasn’t the first “Asian car” for the Big T – that was the Soluna, which frequent visitors to Thailand might have noticed before (it slightly resembles the Corolla SEG, but with a higher butt).

    With prices starting from just above RM70k, the first Vios was a big hit here, just like Hit Me Baby One More Time. The compact sedan was neatly styled and equipped, had a VVT-i engine and a central meter cluster – all those things were pretty novel back then. UMW Toyota Motor sold 66,583 units of the Vios from 2003 to 2007.

    The Vios wasn’t first on the scene, though. When it was launched in May 2003, the second-generation Honda City (the first-gen looked like a mini Civic, remember Type Z? 80s JDM hatchbacks not part of the count) had just gone on sale for below RM80k. The first City launched by Honda Malaysia since its establishment in 2002, the second-gen City was revolutionary to say the least. Derived from the first Jazz, the GD City had an unusual shape that didn’t do much for a sedan’s looks; but boy was it spacious, and that’s before mentioning the versatility the origami-like Ultra Seats delivered.

    The second-gen City was also mould-breaking mechanically, introducing the fuel-sipping i-DSI (Intelligent Dual and Sequential Ignition) engine and CVT automatic with steering shift buttons. It wasn’t pretty, and not at all sporty (despite a VTEC version coming along later), but it was a great family car that displayed plenty of innovation next to the conventional Vios. Honda sold over 61,500 of these from 2003 to 2008.

    The next City was the third-generation GM2, which was a big departure from the GD. This one injected some “sport” back into the equation, with sharp lines and more balanced proportions – it was slightly longer and wider, but significantly less tall. No more i-DSI, no more CVT and no more beige interior – in came i-VTEC, a five-speed automatic and a black cabin. Having 120 PS also gave Honda fans something to shout about. Over 84,300 Malaysians bought one of these from 2008 to 2014.

    Over in the Toyota camp, this was the era of the second-generation Vios, colloquially called the “Dugong Vios” for an alleged resemblance to the cute sea mammal. This sedan sister to the Yaris hatchback boasted significantly increased cabin and boot space, and a distinctive waterfall dashboard (central speedo remained), but the powertrain was carried over with slight tweaking. This XP90 Vios was a big success for UMWT, which sold 178,518 units from 2007 to 2013.

    If you’re keeping count, the tally is now over 145,800 units for the City from 2003 to 2014 (not including the Kah Motor era first-gen City), and 245,101 units for the Vios from 2003 to 2013. That’s a big lead for Toyota, but the next chapter is where the tide turns in Honda’s favour.

    Toyota lands the first blow with the third-generation Vios, which was launched in Malaysia in October 2013. The XP150 – nicknamed “keli” (Malay for catfish) for the shape of its mouth – carried over the long-serving 1NZ-FE and 4AT powertrain combo, and the 2,550 mm wheelbase. The body was all new though; longer, taller and more aerodynamic than its round predecessor.

    The Vios finally received a new engine in 2016, giving the 1NZ-FE – which has been in the Vios since the nameplate was born in 2003 – a well-deserved retirement. Shared with Perodua, the NR series engine with Dual VVT-i was paired to a CVT, which was also making its debut in the Vios.

    In 2019, the Vios received a major overhaul to become the car that we know today. The highly-stylised front end, wraparound tail lamps and revamped dashboard gave Toyota’s entry sedan a fresh feel and a harmonised look with the Yaris hatchback. It’s unchanged under the skin, but that’s to be expected as the powertrain was updated in 2016. Combined, the third-gen Vios in its two guises have found 204,490 homes in Malaysia.

    Honda City sales numbers in Malaysia – from Toyota Vios alternative to B-segment leader in 4 generations

    Over to Honda. With the fourth-generation City, they hit the ball out of the park, so to speak. Debuting a few months after the Vios in March 2014, the GM6 City had a 2,600 mm wheelbase that freed up legroom exceeding Civic and Toyota Camry levels, it was claimed. Rear air con vents and a segment record 536-litre boot made it a great family car. The SOHC i-VTEC engine was just lightly improved, but Honda replaced the 5AT with a CVT, going back full circle with the gearbox.

    The Solid Wing Face look of this generation really struck a chord with Malaysians, and over the course of six years, Honda sold over 209,000 units of the outgoing City. While 209k isn’t miles away from the Vios’ 205k, the Toyota had a head start of a few months, and 205k includes the heavily revamped 2019 Vios (City had a regular midlife minor change in 2017). Despite that, in 2019 (the final full year of sales for the outgoing City) the Honda comfortably outsold the fresh-faced Vios, and ended its run ahead of its contemporary nemesis.

    Like true arch-rivals, both City and Vios have been reloaded for fresh battle as we speak. Honda launched the fifth-generation City last month, and a facelifted Vios is open for booking. The latter puts a new face on the 2019 Vios, and sales will be added to the 204,490 total, so when we revisit the numbers later, the “third-gen Vios” in its three guises would surely have passed the fourth-gen City’s total. Meanwhile, Honda has reset the counter with the fifth-gen City, which is at 2,400 units now.

    The B-segment sedan market has never been more interesting – Honda will release the City RS i-MMD hybrid range topper in January 2021 to join the three existing petrol variants, and Toyota would have its 1.5L NA-only Vios facelift out by then. Meanwhile, the Nissan Almera – which is no longer the “cheap but ugly” option – is taking its own path with a 1.0L turbo engine.

    The Nissan looks good, but at the end of the day, it’ll be Honda and Toyota duking it out for sales and bragging rights. It’s way more than just chest thumping though, as the City and Vios are major contributors to the brands’ overall sales and bottom line in Malaysia. Small they may be, but there’s a lot riding on these humble sedans.

  • 2020 Proton X50 versus Honda City 1.5L – we compare servicing costs of both over five years/100,000 km

    2020 Proton X50 versus Honda City 1.5L – we compare servicing costs of both over five years/100,000 km

    We’ve reported on the servicing costs for several models in the past, and here’s another one. This time, we’re comparing the Proton X50 and Honda City, not because they directly compete against each other, but because they are popular choices among car buyers in the market for a B-segment model, and somewhat overlap in terms of pricing – X50 (RM79,200-RM103,300); City (RM74,191-RM86,561).

    So, if you’re looking for a comparison where the X50 is put up against something from the compact SUV segment, head over here instead. However, if you’re curious about the servicing costs of the two most popular SUV and sedan nameplates in the Malaysian B-segment market currently, read on.

    Before we proceed, there’s some housekeeping in order. Firstly, all the data you see here is available from the official websites of Proton and Honda Malaysia. Secondly, we’re comparing the X50, which has the same service schedule for both its 1.5 litre turbo three-pot engines, to the City with the new 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated DOHC i-VTEC engine.

    Thirdly, we couldn’t include the newly-priced Nissan Almera – another hot B-segment model – into the comparison, because the Almera’s service schedule is not readily available (yet). Lastly, our tables only go up to five years or 100,000 km, but we will mention items that are required beyond that point.

    2020 Proton X50 versus Honda City 1.5L – we compare servicing costs of both over five years/100,000 km

    Looking at the overall figures, the City 1.5L is cheaper to maintain when compared to the X50, but only by RM657.24 over five years/100,000 km. This is the same story when compared on a year-to-year basis, as the sedan has significantly lower servicing costs from year one to four, although it does get close in the fifth year.

    It should be noted that the X50 uses fully-synthetic engine oil, while the City gets semi-synthetic lubricant by default. Should you request for fully-synthetic oil for your City, the price goes up from RM114.69 per change (includes drain plug gasket) to RM130.80, which brings the grand total over five years/100,000 km to RM3,830.81. This is still cheaper than the X50, but by a smaller delta of RM496.14.

    Referring to the individual tables, we can see that the City requires fewer engine oil filter changes, as this happens every 20,000 km compared to the X50 that needs a new one every 10,000 km. The same can be said of the air and cabin filters, which may cost more each time for the City, but is still cheaper across five years/100,000 km.

    2020 Proton X50 versus Honda City 1.5L – we compare servicing costs of both over five years/100,000 km

    Click to enlarge

    Meanwhile, the X50 only replaces its DCT oil at the 90,000-km mark, whereas the City’s