Honda's subcompact offering suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, as its maker has a habit of giving in different names for different markets. In South Africa, the car is sold as the "Honda Ballade", while in Japan, it used to be sold as the "Honda Grace". The rest of the world know it as the Honda City, a cheerful city focus car that sits right under the Civic in Honda's Sedan lineup.
In Bangladesh, the City is offered in two trims, SV and RS. RS is the sportier of the bunch, featuring an aggressive front bumper, rear diffuser, and a spoiler finished in a carbon fibre-like texture. Being petrolheads, we took the RS out for a spin to see what it's like.
The new look
The seventh-generation City somewhat resembles a shrunken down version of the outgoing FK Civic, strengthening its identity as the Civic's little brother. The sharp body lines of the previous generation have been smoothed out, giving the new car a much more mature, graceful look.
Lifting the entire car 160mm off the ground is a set of new 16-inch alloy wheels that sort of looks like the last-gen OEM rims with all the curves taken out.
The RS-specific front bumper has a large red "RS" badge on the left side of the Honda badge, both flanked by a pair of LED headlamps with integrated DRL featuring an intriguing feather-like "Inline Shell" reflector pattern. Underneath those headlights are a pair of enlarged faux intakes that serve as the mounting point of the car's LED foglamps.
The rear tail lamps are also LED, with another large "RS" badge being placed prominently on the right of the trunk lid, very close to the carbon fibre-like spoiler. The lower bumper features a pair of recessed reflectors and a diffuser, which while questionable in a car with around 120Hp, does look good on the eye.
Inside the cabin
The RS-specific interior of the City uses a nice mixture of suede, fabric, and synthetic leather, all finished in vibrant red stitching. Soft padding has been added on all the routinely touched places while the driver gets the added nicety of a real leather-wrapped steering wheel.
A 7-inch infotainment screen dominates the centre column, which supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Connected to which is a really nice 8 speaker system that fills up the small cabin with music. Controls of the automatic climate control can be found under the screen, underneath which is a 12-volt outlet and a pair of USB ports for device charging needs.
The rear passengers get their own AC vents, as well as two dedicated 12-volt outlets. These, combined with the cupholder in the rear armrest, makes the rear seats a cosy place to be.
Moving to the trunk, the redesigned trunk lid of the new City makes for easier cargo loading and provides 519 litres of boot space.
Behind the wheels
Despite lacking the turbo of its bigger brother, the City feels quite lively to drive. The 1.5 litres "Earth Dreams" i-VTEC engine can take the car to triple-digit in 11 seconds, with the engine sounding cheerful throughout the entire process. The MacPherson strut with stabilised Bar/Torsion beam suspension is stiff enough to smooth out any body rolls on most spirited corners, while being also well-tuned to smooth out most bumps and ditches at reasonable speeds. The gearbox tries its best to hide its CVT identity, but you do hear it if you pay attention. The steering has the typical Honda responsiveness, meaning you can have fun when you want to.
The Honda City has all the tech you want for your everyday city driving, as well as the build quality expected from a Japanese brand. Attention to rear passenger comfort is commendable, while driving is still a fun experience regardless of its naturally aspirated engine. If you are looking for a brand new, well-equipped Japanese family car and still retain enough taste to not go for an SUV, grab this.