2009 Honda City - Detailed Preview

Updated : New images added.

The 2009 Honda City is one of the most talked about cars in Asia right now. With high global oil prices, the appeal of small cars is obvious.

Honda City Image

The Honda City looks set to capture a large chunk of the small sedan market in this part of the world, and with just a couple of weeks left before the launch, there is still some mystery about the details of the car.

Let's have a look at what is known, or can be assumed about the new car, and try to fill in the blanks with some educated guesses. Hopefully we'll get close to reality.

All of the information below is based on leaked information and none of it can be assumed to be 100% accurate.

What we think we know:

Launch date

The 2009 Honda City will be in Thai showrooms on 10th September. Thailand will be the first country in the world to get Hondas small sedan, with Thailand being a production and export hub for Honda in the region.

Naturally, Honda Thailand will accept advance bookings on the car, but if you go and ask they will not be able to show you a picture of the car, the will only be able to give you some specification details. The reason for the secrecy is obviously to do with the fact that the car hasn't been introduced anywhere else in the world yet, but I wouldn't be comfortable booking a car when so little is clear about it.

Engine and Transmission - Straight from the Jazz

Ah, yes, this much is for sure. The 2009 Honda City will share the same power unit and transmission as the recently introduced 2nd generation Jazz. And, as with the Jazz, the City will only have the one engine. The previous generation was available with a 1.5 i-DSI or a 1.5 VTEC, producing 88hp and 110hp respectively. The iDSI models were more economical on fuel, and i-DSI models were also cheaper.

The new model will simplify things with just one engine on offer, the 1.5 litre i-VTEC. The 1497cc SOHC (single-over-head-cam), 4 cylinder, 16 valve engine uses Honda's i-VTEC technology to improve efficiency and power. The unit can now deliver 120 hp at 6600 rpm. The engine is E20 capable.

Honda Jazz with Engine Image

According to Honda the new engine is more economical than before, despite the 10 hp power increase, a claim that owners should be able to test thanks to a real-time fuel usage meter being standard equipment on the City.

Perhaps the i-DSI was no longer going to offer a significant improvement in fuel economy compared to the new i-VTEC unit. Another possibility is that the i-DSI could not have been easily adapted for E20.

The base S MT model will have a 5-speed-manual gearbox, while all other models will share the smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic from the Jazz.

Employing "Grade Logic Control" which will hold the gear during climbs and decent, and the "Shift Hold System" to remain in a lower gear for improved control during cornering, the 5-speed box is very driver friendly.

The top model will include a paddle-shift operated manual mode. Obviously this will appeal to those who enjoy a more involving drive. I've tested this out on the Jazz, and it works very nicely, but I could easily live without it.


The ditching of the i-DSI engine and the increase in standard equipment means that the 2009 City will not be able to compete on price with in the sub THB500,000 arena.

In fact, pricing for the new City will kick off above THB550,000. With the Jazz starting at THB560,000, we can be sure that the City will be a little cheaper.

Honda Thailand recently upped the pricing on several models, including the Jazz, by THB10,000. Perhaps in the case of the Jazz this would leave them some room for the City. Remember, we are speculating here, based on assurances from Honda sales people that the City will be cheaper than the Jazz:

  • City S MT - THB559,0000 (approx.)
  • City S AT - THB589,000 (approx.)
  • City V AT - THB620,000 (approx.)
  • City V AT(SRS)- THB640,000 (approx.)
  • City SV AT(SRS) - THB695,000 (approx.)

Larger Size

Car makers always like to make each successive model just that little bit bigger than the previous generation. This is also to be true of the 2009 Honda City, and it is to grow in every way.

The length is rumoured to increase by around 95mm to 4485mm. The current generation is already longer than the 4300mm Toyota Vios.

The increase in overall length is to make way for a 100mm increase in wheelbase, now 2550mm, equalling the Vios, and 50mm longer than the Jazz. This should translate into a big improvement in legroom in both the front and rear. Something that was badly needed. I tried to test drive the current City but was unable to move the drivers seat back sufficiently to comfortably control the car.

The current City is already a tall looking car, and the new model is even taller, with height to increase by 10mm, to 1495mm. This is lower than the 1525mm Jazz, but 35mm extra height over the Toyota Vios.

Width is to increase by 5mm to 1695mm, equalling the Jazz, which is sill 5mm narrower than the Vios.

2009 Honda City Image

This will make the City the largest car in the 1500cc class, and since Honda are very good at packaging we can be sure that all that space will be very well utilised, with clever storage spaces, plenty of room for the occupants, and a large boot.

With a capacity of 506 litres, the City easily beating out the Toyota Vios with its 471-litre-capacity boot.

The City will also get the larger rims and tires just like the Jazz, so 16" alloy rims on the SV, and 15" alloys for V, with only the S models having steel rims.

If trust the images that are circulating at the moment, it looks like the City will get new alloy designs to help differentiate it further from the Jazz.

The look - "Mini Accord"

The current City is hardly a bad looking car, but it doesn't have many fans based on looks. Honda has updated the look of the City several times, and each time it managed to make the City look more like a sedan and less like the Jazz.

2009 Honda City Image

This time the City will be completely different from the Jazz in terms of look. The roof-line and door-frame lines are much more sedan-like, and there is something of the accord to it. Honda sales people I spoke to have described it as looking like a "mini Accord."

One dealer I visited actually showed me this image and told me that it looked very similar to the real thing:

2009 Honda City image

This would add to the credibility of the following image that is circulating at the moment, which looks similar to the artists impression above.

2009 Honda City Image

Obviously it would be good for Honda if they could liken the City to their flagship model. But let's not get carried away here, but the City has taken some design cues from its bigger sibling, and if these spy pictures are at all accurate then I think the look of the car is likely to satisfy virtually anyone looking at a car in this price range.

What we don't know

Interior design

We don't have any spy pictures of the interior yet, but I'm told that it is more up-market than the previous generation, as you would expect. The beige interior finish in the lower spec S and V models is said to be a darker tone than before.

We do know that the interior is different to the Jazz in terms of design, although it will likely share many components with the Jazz as part sharing is more economical. So the steering wheel, and other switch gear will probably be borrowed directly from the Jazz. Perhaps the dash and dials will be entirely new, or just modified to fit into the design of the sedan. I would find it hard to imagine the Jazz dash fitting well in City.

Exact specification

We have to wait and see what the final specification will be like. In order for the City to be priced below the Jazz, it will need to carry a slightly shorter specification list than the Jazz.

The new City is rumoured to include a few new paint options, supposedly to set it apart from the Jazz.

Anything else?

The City is going to sell and in large quantities. Toyota should still manage to maintain a foothold with the Vios, but some argue that the current City already bests the Vios, which is technically a generation ahead of the current City.

This new City should widen the gap to the Vios even further, similarly to the way the Jazz opened the gap with the Yaris.

If you are currently considering buying a small sedan you should definitely wait a few weeks and take a look at the new City. If you want to have something a little exclusive however, you should look elsewhere. This thing will be everywhere in a few months.

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Update - New 2009 Honda City Images Reveal All

The following images have just surfaced and now we have a very clear idea about what's coming. This appears to be a high spec model, as it includes paddle shift, but the SV model in Thailand will have a dark interior, not the beige interior of the car pictured. The Thai specification will probably not get leather rapped steering wheel either.

2009 Honda City Image

2009 Honda City Image

2009 Honda City Image

2009 Honda City Image

2009 Honda City Image

Related : 2009 Honda City First Impressions; Honda Quietly Launches 2009 Honda Civic