2023 Honda City Facelift: First Drive Report

Priced between Rs 11.50 lakh and Rs 20.39 lakh(ex-showroom), is the Honda City Facelift still the aspirational sedan that it was? To answer this question, we take the New Honda City Facelift (both the NA Petrol and the e:HEV) models for a quick spin in our first drive report.

March 09, 2023     Venkatesh Koushik
2023 Honda City Facelift: First Drive Report



·      Supremely comfortable with class-leading space

·      Hybrid engine and CVT gearbox lack punch

·      Good fit and finish levels

·      More expensive than the competition

·      Feature rich cabin

·      Skips ventilated seats

·      Most fuel-efficient sedan

·      Skinny tyres and no diesel engine

 Despite the world’s first automobile being electric, acceptance of electric propulsion in the current market is low but raising steadily. To help the market transition easily and adapt to newer and greener propulsion methods quickly, auto manufacturers have introduced hybrid engines as a mainstream alternative. Expected to offer best of both worlds with cleaner propulsion and hassle-free recharging on the move, these cars are the best fit for anyone who wants to beat the raising fuel prices.

Honda City

And betting big on this technology, Honda Cars India introduced the City e:HEV in the country during Q3 2022. And for 2023 the company plans to make hybrid adoption mainstream by introducing an updated version of its most popular model, the Honda City in India. CarLelo got a chance to test drive the new car and in this story, we will dwell into the details to see what has changed on the new model and if it can still take the fight to the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, the upcoming Next Gen Hyundai Verna, Skoda Slavia and the Volkswagen Virtus in its segment.

2023 Honda City Facelift: Exterior Design

Honda City Exterior

The Honda City 5th Generation was already a good-looking sedan. But Honda has made specific updates to the car to make it either sporty or more elegant depending on the trim you select.

On the Elegance design trims (SV, V and VX), the car features horizontal slats for the front grille along with new body coloured front bumper lower elements. There is minimal use of chrome on the exterior along with dual-tone diamond cut multi-spoke alloy wheels and a redesigned diffuser which enhance the grace of this long sedan.

Honda City  New

While on the Sporty design variant (ZX), we were greeted by a brand-new diamond chequered front grille and carbon-wrapped front splitter. The claw shaped LED fog lamp from the 2022 City e:HEV is now standard across both models and completes the front-end look.

Honda City Rear

Moving to the sides the changes are minimal and limited to a new design dual tone diamond cut alloy wheels which along with the signature Katana blade shoulder line gives the car its raked sporty stance. Towards the back, there is an all-new design for the sporty carbon-wrapped diffuser and a boot-lip spoiler like the one seen on the City RS in the International market.

Overall, the new Obsidian Blue colour along with the changes to the City’s exterior design will help the car to age well.

Read Also: Volkswagen Virtus – Expert Review

2023 Honda City Facelift: Interior Layout

Honda City Interior

As this is a minor model change, the overall layout of the cabin remains the same with its large glass area and a flat dashboard. The car continues to use the same dual tone black and ivory theme for the interiors. There is a new carbon fibre dashboard garnish on the e:HEV model, while the standard car settles for a faux wood trim. There is generous use of soft to touch materials (leather) for the door pads, gear lever and the steering wheel that enhance the premium quotient of the cabin.

Honda City seat

The premium leather seats are large and comfortable with sufficient cushioning for both the base and the side bolstering. There is a myriad of adjustments for the seats and the steering-wheel that help the driver get into a comfortable driving position with ease.

In the second row, the City shines with its class leading leg room and adequate headroom. The central tunnel is set low and makes seating three abreast easy. Overall, the City’s cabin is a comfortable place to spend long hours in.

2023 Honda City Facelift: Features

Honda City features

Equipment list on the inside includes an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment unit that now features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 7-inch full colour TFT meter with driver information interface, 8-speaker premium sound system, knurled knobs for the climate control, rear AC and e-park brake with auto-hold function (only e:HEV models) among others.

In addition to these, the company has also packed in new equipment that includes an ambient lighting package, better resolution cameras and a wireless charger (fixed type on the Hybrid models/ detachable on the Petrol models).

While the feature list on the new model is fairly similar to the previous gen car, the biggest change is to the brains of the system. The Honda Sensing Technology that was introduced on the Hybrid model in 2022 has now made its way into the petrol trims of the new Honda City Facelift. This makes the new sedan future ready and safer in all iterations.

We get the standard suite of ADAS functions that include Collision Mitigation Braking, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Auto High-Beam Assist among others. In addition to these, the new model also introduces Adaptive Cruise Control system with low-speed follow (only e:HEV models) and Lead Car Departure Notification system as standard. Alongside ADAS, the car also comes equipped with up to 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Traction Control System, Engine Immobiliser and more.

Read Also: Skoda Slavia 1.0 TSI AT: Expert Review

2023 Honda City Facelift: Engine

Honda City engine

The biggest change to the new City’s comes from under the hood, where the company has dropped the diesel engine in favour of the upcoming RDE Emission Norms. In addition, the petrol engines have been upgraded to the meet the new emission standard and comply with the E20 fuel requirements.

Currently there are two engines on offer with the City Facelift. The first is the 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine that continues to push out a maximum power output of 120 bhp and peak torque of 145 Nm, while the other is a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine that is good enough for 107 bhp and 253 Nm of torque. The former comes equipped with a 6-speed manual or a 7-step CVT gearbox, while the latter is only available with an e-CVT transmission option.

Honda City Bootspace

In fact, the 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine is among the most powerful NA engines available in the segment and is more powerful than the standard 1.0-litre turbo unit available on its German/ Czech rivals.

2023 Honda City Facelift: Performance

Honda City 1

On the road, the New Honda City Facelift does not feel any different to the 5th generation City that we drove previously. The cabin NVH levels are above par and the i-VTEC engine is very refinement. Despite measuring 4.58 metres in length, it is easy to manoeuvre the sedan in peak traffic. The steering wheel feels light and easy to rotate at low speeds and weights up well as speeds increase giving you direct response every time.

We test drove both the manual and CVT versions of the New City and came out with one thing certain. The chassis of the City is insanely capable thanks to the major use of high tensile strength steel. While the chassis is rigid, the suspension is softly sprung that helps the four-wheeler tackle broken roads and potholes with ease.

Honda City 2

This package paired with the slick shifting 6-speed manual is a dream combination for any petrol head. The ratios are tightly stacked making acceleration from standstill quick. The car picks up pace easily and doing triple digit speeds on the highway is hassle free with this vehicle. And when the situation demands a mash of the right foot, and the City is ready to pick up speed instantly putting a big smile on your face.

While we were mighty impressed by the manual gearbox, the CVT felt like a major let down as it was uninspiring to drive. The rubber band effect was apparent and every time you want a quick move, the car struggle to pick up pace.

Honda City blue

Besides that, the Honda City is a comfortable vehicle both for the driver and the passenger. And taking this comfort a notch higher is the Honda Sensing Tech. We have driven many ADAS equipped cars in the past and came back with a sour taste. But the Honda was different, its system worked without a hiccup most of the time and would alert the driver of every obstacle on the road. A weird caveat we found on the new model was that the ADAS systems engage only at speeds above 72 kmph and dis-engage when the speeds fell below 65 kmph with an audible warning.

2023 Honda City Facelift: Verdict

So, at Rs 20.39 lakh (ex-showroom) is the City worth the money? In our opinion yes. While there are some short comings to the City when compared to the competition, the car makes up for it with its bulletproof reliability.

Honda City blue2

And with this update Honda has made the aspirational sedan more accessible to every type of a customer. The introduction of ADAS on the lower trims has added huge value to the car making it the best value for money offering in its segment. In addition, the new base trim on the hybrid will help accelerate the shift to cleaner propulsion faster and easier.

So, if you are in the market looking to buy a new sedan that is future proof and easy to maintain, then the New Honda City Facelift is your best option.

Honda City 5th Generation
Starting at ₹ 11,82,000
EMI Starting at ₹ 16,581
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