Joining its smaller sibling the Jazz Hybrid, Honda’s perennial B-segment sedan now comes in a new guise: the City Sport Hybrid i-DCD. Its moniker is partly self-explanatory – the fact that there is a fusion powertrain propelling the car can be worked out without much trouble, but the significance of the acronym on the trailing bit of the name isn’t too obvious.
Intelligent Dual-Clutch Drive; that is what i-DCD stands for. That’s right, the City Hybrid is equipped with a 7-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT), an efficient enabler of rapid acceleration thanks to its ultra-fast upshifts and downshifts. Utilising a Shift-by-Wire electronic gear shifting system, the DCT is practically free of lag or clutch slip, evoking quicker responses without sacrificing smoothness. Sport Mode and paddle shifters help to make the transition through the gears a more enjoyable experience.
As this advanced transmission is busy dictating the rotational motion of the front wheels, it receives power from not just a 1.5L DOHC i-VTEC engine, but a High-Power Electric Motor that is directly mated to it as well. The petrol unit produces 110PS, and its electric partner bumps up the total combined power to 140PS. A maximum of 170Nm of torque is available on tap, making for output figures to rival a naturally-aspirated 1.8L engine.
What a standard 1.8L engine can’t compete with however, is the superb fuel efficiency this system achieves – a best of 3.9L/100km or approximately 25km/L was recorded in the UN R101 Test. That is a petrol-sipping rate that even most superminis would struggle to match! As with most hybrids, the task of propulsion falls on either the motor, the engine, or both, depending on the driving conditions, with the batteries being charged by energy recovery during braking.
A better battery
For optimal power delivery, Honda uses a Lithium ion (Li-ion) battery, which not only offers more capacity but endures longer as well. This power source, or Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) as Honda calls it, sits under the boot space, which is good news as the class-dominating 536L luggage-hauling capacity of the City remains untouched.
However, there is a small compromise to be had. The battery takes up the spot usually occupied by the spare tyre, resulting in a potential snag should a flat decide to invade your schedule for the the day. To remedy this, Honda has included a tyre-repair kit, which is basically a pump-plus-sealant combo that takes care of punctures 4mm or less in size.
On the plus side, it is a lot less effort than changing the tyre yourself; just plonk the bottle of sealant into the pump assembly, plug the pump into a power outlet in the car, and watch the tyre fill up. It’s as good as a temporary spare, enough to get you safely to your destination at a maximum speed of 80km/h, until you get your tyre professionally repaired or replaced.
While the worry of a puncture comes with the territory of car ownership, Honda assures that the battery isn’t something owners should be concerned about. Since selling the Fit (a.k.a. Jazz) Hybrid in Japan in 2013, Honda has only had to replace 0.1% of the IPU in those models!
Even with this interesting observance on the table, Honda has taken an extra step to boost confidence in buyers. The IPU in the City Hybrid, like the Jazz Hybrid, comes with a remarkable eight-year/unlimited mileage warranty. Sail pass this period and find yourself needing a new battery? Fret not, as a replacement unit costs a relatively economical RM5,513.
Fresh yet familiar
Remove the Hybrid badges on the fenders and boot lid, and you’d be hard-pressed to tell this car apart from a regular City. Visually at least, the Hybrid blends in pretty well with its pack, as most of the difference expectedly lies under the skin. Step inside and it’s mainly the unique gear lever which betrays the notion that you are in an ordinary City.
This is because the Hybrid comes with the features present in the E and V variants of the City, with some standard equipment from the lower spec and others from the higher one (E Spec headlamps and interior; V Spec LED tail lamps and 16-inch wheels, for instance). However, there is enough on the specifications table to keep most buyers happy.
Cruise control, 3D Illuminated Meter Cluster, 6.8-inch touchscreen head unit, touch-panel climate control, stability control, hill-start assist, emergency stop signal, four airbags and the like come courtesy of the E and V Spec parts bin, but specific to the Hybrid are nifty features such as the energy utilisation graphics, automatic parking gear selection and low-speed sound alerts to warn nearby pedestrians when the car is in its silent electric mode.
Thanks to Malaysian hybrid tax breaks, the City Hybrid, like the Jazz Hybrid, has had a significant chunk shaved off its pricing. Instead of a six-figure sum, the two models retail for under RM90,000 without insurance – RM89,200 in the case of the sedan, which is about a RM50 note shy of what the range-topping V Spec goes for.
This new City, which is incidentally the fifth Honda model to be introduced in the Malaysian market this year – and like the Jazz Hybrid, is the first of its kind in the Asian market outside of Japan – comes in three colours: Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic and White Orchid Pearl.
The warranty period echoes that of the other City variants; 5 years with unlimited mileage at 10,000 km service intervals. As previously mentioned, the Lithium-Ion battery comes with its own 8-year warranty.