Original version Honda City. Going Cheap. More bang for your buck than an atomic bomb. Want one?
It had easily the best engine on sale at the time and would have been up there with the best even today If you ever had dreams of playing boy racer in a street-legal, cheap family car then the first generation of Honda City is perfect for you. It came with the heart and soul of a car whose only aim was to make the driver feel dizzy with adrenaline bursting acceleration that was unheard of in its day and age and could outrun a Lancer or an Astra oh-so-effortlessly... For our used car test, we had to settle for a comparatively older version of the car to fit the Rs 2-lakh budget we had set. And we have to admit it, the example we finally picked still looked clean, with its uncluttered silhouette putting the car back on our 'desirables' list.Initial impressions of our City are of a car that drives better than you expect from one this age. The gearbox slots home effortlessly, the shifts are slick as honeyed Mobil1, and what really gets you is the power delivery possessed by the 67,000 km-old motor. It's easy to forget that this was easily the best engine on sale at the time and - let's face it - would have been up there with the best even today. The mid-range is a snarl, there is a tremendous amount of light, responsive energy behind the sound and the amount of power flowing through to the front wheels only increases as the motor spins closer to its redline, unusually so as power normally tapers off as an engine raises to its peak revs. Then it's 'bang' into the severe limiter, unless you snap-shift into the next gear where the assault on the horizon continues. But the years have taken their toll. There is a snatch/shunt from the transmission when you shift up a gear - probably the engine mountings. The motor sounds a touch more strained and buzzy than a fresh unit and top-end performance is marginally down. Still, you can feel this car's 100 bhp per ton power-to-weight ratio as it rockets forward up the gears, the acceleration relentless. Remember, the City weighed in at 985kg and it's fast even now, with 0-100 kph coming up in 10.68 seconds. The communicative steering is also just the same, with good feedback to the driver's fingertips. There is a mild grating sound audible from behind the steering boss and the wheel doesn't feel as fluid, but this hardly hampers progress. Nor do the over-servoed brakes, once your right foot gets used to the sudden increase in braking power they deliver. The City's grippy front was another feature that delivered great driving pleasure. However older cars, like the one we had picked, came with a soft suspension set-up especially behind, and this makes the City feel a bit un-sporty in handling terms. Today, a used Honda City might look like an overpriced car in the market, but do remember the fact that Honda's resale values are the slowest to erode and you'd be better of buying a City than a Ford Ikon, for instance, if you look at it in these simple terms. Now go get that set of rice-rocket wheels!