Having reviewed the Honda City a couple of months back, we revisit the model today in its cheaper Grade S guise. By opting for this variant over the more expensive Grade E model, your savings is to the tune of RM5,000, though the difference becomes less significant when converted to monthly repayments.
Mechanical specs are identical, so spec sheet deficits that you will have to live with are limited to just equipment. It is your call whether can you live without items such as tail pipe finishes, power folding side mirrors with integrated signal lamps, rear armrest, and paddle shifters. The rims are also smaller by an inch at 15″.
The above omissions are acceptable from my perspective, although if you can’t live without them, the RM5,000 premium charged by the more expensive Grade E model is not at all exorbitant. What’s a little more difficult to swallow is the absence of steering-mounted audio controls and front fog lights, both omissions that advertise the fact that you’ve settled for the cheaper model. The former is especially helpful in allowing to make adjustments to your audio without taking your eyes or hands off the wheel.
Having grown up without electronic aids in my cars (I currently only have ABS and EBD), the absence of stability control, VSA in Honda speak, does not quite trouble me, although Malaysian consumers this day and age have grown to be an increasingly fussy lot. Then again, if VSA matters to you, an extra RM5,000 for the Grade E is not too much of a price to pay.
|Front fog lamps among the most noticeable omissions.|
Focusing on the stuff that you do have, however, the City Grade S’ picture begins to appear more flattering. Available equipment includes reverse sensor, multi-info display, tilt & telescopic steering, immobilizer, dual airbags, ABS, and EBD. The rear seats may have to do without a centre armrest, but there is 60:40 split folding, centre passenger three-point belt, and ISOFIX mounts.
On the dashboard, we observe the use of materials that are also used in the more expensive model. The audio unit is identical as well, utilizing the exact same unit and featuring the same functions, namely USB and AUX-IN connectivity. This, of course, also means that the issue of not having numbered memory buttons that we criticized in the Grade E is present here as well.
|Centre stack is same as Grade E model.|
There is little new to report on the mechanical front or on the road. Honda has commendably made rear disc brakes standard for the City, and although paddle shifters are absent here in the Grade S, the 5-speed automatic transmission being used is identical to the Grade E’s in ratios and behaviour. It routes 118hp and 145Nm to the front wheels from the L15A 1.5-litre SOHC i-VTEC engine.
Straight line performance is as what we reported with the Grade E, adequately brisk, but unspectacular overall. It is certainly not underpowered, but refinement becomes lacking as the revs build up. Do note however, that the use of narrower tyres and the absence of stability control means less liberties should be taken at corners, although overall dynamics remain sufficiently competent for point-and-squirt urban applications. It is a car that gets the job done.
Despite the Grade S being decently equipped overall, our recommendation for those of you going for the City would be to pick the higher-specced Grade E model. Although most of the higher model’s additional equipment are not what we would call essential, they also more than adequately justify Honda’s RM5,000 pricing premium for the Grade E.
Writer’s Note (22/11/2012, 17:00hrs): We had earlier erroneously described the pricing gap between the City Grade S as tested and the more expensive Grade E to be RM6,000. The correct figure is RM5,000 and the article has been corrected to reflect the difference. Our humblest and sincerest apologies for the error.