The Honda brand is often seen as the step-up car manufacturer for most of the Malaysian public, especially for those who are either looking for their first car or even their first family car. And that’s actually rather true because if you look at a brand with a large following, Honda is definitely a local favorite after the likes of Perodua and Proton. However, the usual fan favorite has always been a small and practical hatch called the Honda Jazz.But surprisingly for 2022, Honda has decided to axe the Jazz completely from this region in favor for another variant of the sedan counterpart, otherwise known as the Honda City. While some may think it’s odd for Honda to stop the sales of one of their most successful models, the Jazz has always just been the hatch version of the City anyways. They’re based on the same platform, they share the same engine and even the interior is identical. It’s just that the Jazz has been more focused to the youth while the City was more inclined to people with a small family.So, cue in the all-new Honda City Hatchback. All the fun with a little bit more convenience in the back. Honda actually made the roomy cabin a selling point for the City Hatchback, just as they did with the previous generation Jazz. With cycling and glamping being some of the few activities that people actually like, the City Hatchback is fittingly targeted to the active lifestyles of the youth.
The RS and The Rest
Let’s make it clear that everything on the City Hatchback is exactly similar to the sedan variant. And just like the Sedan, Honda brought over the four specs that were offered on the City. First of, is the entry level ‘S’ variant, the low-middle ‘E’, the upper-middle ‘V’ and also the range-topping ‘RS’ variant with the e:HEV. However, for now, Honda Malaysia is selling the ‘S’, ‘E’ and ‘V’ while the ‘RS’ will be sold at a later date.Let’s gloss through the specs, shall we?S - “Essence Gratified” as Honda describes. With this spec, you receive the 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC mated to a CVT gearbox. Projector halogen headlamps with LED DRLs. The rear tail lamps are also made of LEDs. Apart from that, the signals on the sides are integrated into the door mirrors. And even on the ‘S’, the ULTRA seats are standard as well as 4 airbags.E - “Value Perfected”, this trim is fitted with all the amenities from the ‘S’ however with the addition of remote engine start, an 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reverse camera, automatic air-conditioning, paddle shift and cruise control.V - “Premium Redefined”, the ‘V’ is further improved with automatic LED headlights, LED front fog lights, 16” alloy wheels and 6 airbags. The V is also the trim to receive Honda’s LaneWatch, which assists with the blindspot on the left side of the car. There is a camera mounted underneath the left side mirror which projects the image on your infotainment screen.RS - “Performance Elevated”, this is Honda’s only trim for the City Hatchback that is fitted with the 1.5-litre i-MMD with their e-CVT gearbox. Dubbed as the e:HEV RS, this is also the only variant to receive Honda Sensing ADAS as well as Honda Connect. The interior too is different from the other variants as the RS receives a bespoke interior with a blend of black/red leather and suede. On the exterior, Honda gives the RS a few sporty credentials such as a gloss black front grill and fog lamp garnish, gloss black side mirror as well as a rear diffuser. The wheels on the RS are also variant-specific as they are a set of dual-tone 16-inch alloys. The rear passengers of the RS too get their own air-conditioning vents, which is a pretty nice touch, Honda.
Addressing The Elephant Not In The Room
Well technically that is not true but Honda does flex with their ability to fit large objects in a tiny car ever since the outgoing Jazz. Now, they’ve carried forward the similar trait for the City Hatchback with their ULTRA seats which is actually a brilliant piece of kit. The rear seats can be adjusted in four different ways to suit the items that you intend on carrying, no matter how big or small.The ‘Utility’ mode flattens the rear seats to accommodate big items such as bicycles, so you can fit them vertically in the car. ‘Long’ mode moves the front passenger seat to fit long items such as a golf bag. ‘Tall’ mode can place items standing upright like plants or even a barbecue pit. ‘Refresh mode’ can turn the interior into a lounge-like setting with the front seats fully down, uh, how can I put this? It’s something millennials would call ‘Netflix and chill’, I presume. Honda might as well include Careless Whisper in the mix, don’t you think?
Honda's Sixth Sense
Honda Sensing is nothing new to Honda, especially for the models in the overseas market. However, it has never been offered on a model at this price point. To those who are unfamiliar with Honda Sensing, essentially it is an Advanced Driver’s Assistance System (ADAS). Among the features that Honda Sensing includes is Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Auto High Beam as well as Adaptive Cruise Control. That being said, Honda Sensing is currently only offered on the RS e:HEV.While the RS does get a lot of the goodies, that doesn’t mean the rest of the bunch are left empty handed. Some of the features in the other trims include Honda’s LaneWatch, multi-angle rear camera, Hill Start Assist (HSA), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Auto Brake Hold (ABH) and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA).
During the launch of the City Hatchback, Honda mentioned the ‘Deceleration Selector Paddles’. While it looks like paddle shifters, it doesn’t actually control the shifts of the CVT gearbox on the RS e:HEV. The paddles adjust the sensitivity of the regenerative braking on the hybrid. So, the ‘+’ symbol increases the rate of regenerative braking, hence minimizing the use of your brake pedal while the ‘-’ symbol works the other way around.I personally find it rather fascinating that a car at this price point offers something that is barely seen elsewhere. Not that it’s a bad thing but usually it’s just a button to turn off the regenerative braking if you’re not a fan of how it works but Honda managed to turn it into something that can be engaging for the driver. Depending on how well it functions, we have yet to give a comment regarding the matter.
Will the City Hatchback Replace The Jazz?
The Jazz has always gotten the “youngest sibling” vibe while the Civic was the “most popular sibling”. People adored the Jazz over the three generations that Malaysia got, with it probably being the most versatile car in the market back then. Some even swapped in the K20 engine from their Type R siblings.However, I’m actually more curious about what the new City Hatchback can bring to the local automotive scene. Because apart from the Perodua Myvi, the Jazz has always been the go-to car whether you’re into the street scene or a track junkie.As a staple of Malaysia’s automotive culture, people are still modding them up as they are frequently seen in races like Malaysia Championship Series, Malaysia Speed Festival and Sepang 1000km even after Honda axing the Jazz from our region completelyThere was even a team that competed in Sepang 1000km recently with the new City and Thailand now has a City Hatchback one-make race, just like what Toyota does with their Vios for Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Challenge. So, will Honda Malaysia restart their racing programme? Only time will tell.
The City Hatchback comes with two engines depending on the trim. The ‘S’,’E’ and ‘V’ are powered by the same inline-four 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC mated to a CVT gearbox while the ‘RS e:HEV’ is also powered by an inline-four 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC with the addition of an Atkinson Cycle for the hybrid motor and mated to an e-CVT gearbox. Another addition on the RS e:HEV is an electric parking brake.In terms of performance, the non-hybrid engine delivers 121hp at 6,600rpm with 145Nm of torque at 4,300rpm. However, the hybrid RS e:HEV delivers 98hp with the addition of 109hp from the electric motor. You also get 253Nm of torque from 0-3000rpm before the engine kicks in to deliver 127Nm from 4,500rpm. The non-hybrid will get around 5.6L/100km while the hybrid can offer as low as 3.6L/100km.
Even before the launch, Honda Malaysia already has 2000 bookings for the new City Hatchback. For now the on-the-road prices without insurance for the ‘S’ is RM75,670.00, ‘E’ is RM83,080.00 and the ‘V’ is RM87,860.00. These prices are inclusive of the Sales Tax Exemption and the cars will be on the road as soon as January 2022.Despite Honda Malaysia showcasing and launching the RS e:HEV, they have yet to announce the price for the variant. However, they did mention that the trim will be available in early 2022 with the price to be announced closer to the delivery period. It is expected to be priced somewhere in the estimated RM105,000-RM108,000 range.Honda currently offers a 5-Year Warranty with unlimited mileage and also free labour service up to 5 times within 100,000km or 5 years. And if you’re getting yourself the hybrid, there is an 8-year hybrid battery warranty with unlimited mileage.Written by | Danial Malek