Honda will soon bring a number of new products to the Indian market. Honda will heavily rely on hybrid technology in the future and the first modern-day hybrid product from the brand is the new City e:HEV. It is the most advanced hybrid technology available in this price segment and it sure raises a lot of questions. We recently drove the new City e:HEV and we can answer a few questions for you.
Is it better to drive?
The Honda City e:HEV uses the complicated hybrid system that can run on pure electric, purely on engine power or in both petrol and electric mode. The power controller constantly scans the driver inputs to decide, which mode is the best for power delivery in the most fuel-efficient way. However, that does not suck out the sheer driving pleasure from the fuel-efficient City Hybrid.
Since there is a traction electric motor that drives the front wheel of the City e:HEV, it acts like an electric. Honda has not revealed the official combined power output of the new City e:HEV but the combined torque output stands at 253 Nm and it is available from zero rpm just like the electric cars.
The acceleration is not comparable with pure electric cars. But it is still very quick. Honda claims that the City e:HEV can hit the 100 km/h mark in 10 seconds. While we could not test the time, it sure feels quick. It can go beyond 180 km/h but the acceleration tapers off after 150 km/h speed. The City petrol, on the other hand, can reach a higher top speed. While Honda has not mentioned the official top speed of the City petrol and the hybrid, many have reported that the City petrol manual can reach 195 km/h! The battery and engine work together to provide ample power in the hybrid mode if you plan to be aggressive on the throttle all the time.
The City Hybrid does not get a conventional gearbox. It is stepped e:CVT but uses a single ratio gear. Honda has artificially created the steps to give you a feel of gear shifts. This means the artificial steps do not lag at all. You cannot control the engine rpm of the Honda City Hybrid as the power control unit takes care of the same. There are paddle shifters but they are only to set the regeneration level.
The Honda City petrol remains one of the best cars to own and drive in this segment for a long time. The 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine produces a maximum power of 120 PS and peak torque of 145 Nm. If you are an enthusiast, the CVT available with the City petrol is not a choice for you. The manual transmission is much better. Since it is a naturally aspirated engine, there is no lag and it is all pure power flowing out just like good old internal combustion engines.
If you like more control over the engine of the car, the City petrol manual is the choice for you. Else, you can live peacefully with the City Hybrid. Honestly, once you get a hold of how to extract the maximum power from the City Hybrid after driving for a few kilometres, it is a hoot of a system.
Which one handles better?
The Honda City is a great handling car. It gets a precise steering set-up and the suspension is tuned in a very balanced way. The City petrol handles well. The body roll is minimal to taking high-speed corners and the steering feedback is excellent.
The Honda City Hybrid is heavier due to the addition of the batteries. But it has gained weight in the right spots. The batteries are mounted in the lower part of the boot. While it adds more than 100 kg of weight, the centre of gravity becomes lower, which means the City Hybrid feels much more stable on the straight lines and even while taking high-speed corners.
We did not drive the cars back to back but we can definitely say that the City Hybrid has an advantage over the City petrol due to the lower centre of gravity. It works well for the car.
Honda City Hybrid looks better?
Not essentially. Even though Honda has changed a few parts to spice up the looks of the new City e:HEV, it is not as attractive as the RS variant. The City Hybrid gets tweaks like claw-shaped foglamps, a new boot spoiler and new blue logos. But that’s about it. You can simply import the RS kit and make your City petrol or hybrid look much better!
Which one for you?
The Honda City petrol manual offers much more than the City hybrid if you’re an enthusiast. Also, if you plan to take the car to a garage and get some tuning done, the City petrol will be a better choice. We are not sure if you can tinkle with the powertrain of the City Hybrid, upgrade the alloy wheels (because of the regeneration system) or install aftermarket performance enhancers like an exhaust system. Also, you have to spend a lot more for a City Hybrid compared to the standard car. But most Indian road surfaces do not allow the driver to unleash the full potential of the vehicle. We do not think any of the variants will be any less fun while taking your commute journeys.