Honda tweak City ZX... slightly

The Honda City, and its hatchback sibling, the Jazz, are running out of steam. Fresher models from Toyota and even Chevrolet are stunting Honda sales in the sub-compact market. With the recent appearance of the brand new Toyota Vios, it is not surprising to see Honda beef up the City ZX in an effort to stay competitive.

But this is the second round of minor changes for the City, and a brand new model should be on the market sometime in 2008. Is this City ZX worth a look?

What's new?

Honda are touting the City's frugal nature as a key selling point for the new City ZX. Upon hearing this you might well be disappointed to learn that this doesn't mean that there is any change to the engine line up. The same 1.5 liter engine options remain, the I-DSI and the more powerful (and slightly thirstier) VTEC units are unchanged. I'd be interested to know how this City is any more fuel-efficient than before.

Exterior changes are subtle as you would expect from a minor change, and the change from City, to City ZX, which would also have been considered a minor change, provided more noticeable physical changes to the car. This time changes include a slightly changed front grille, colour changes to the tail lights, a third brake light mounted in the rear window, and re-designed alloy wheels. Of that lot the most interesting is the high mounted brake light, simply because I was surprised to learn that the previous City ZX didn't include this feature!

The interior also receives some changes, including a two-tone steering wheel, darker colour interior, water repellent seats, power door lock switch, keyless entry, electric retractable side-mirrors, and driver vanity mirror.

city interior

The audio system is also updated to include the ability to play MP3 files, which is a must these days.

Vios or City

Overall the update to the City ZX is minor. Apparently Thailand is the first country to get this update, so you can imagine how envious other markets are right now as they wait their turn.

Seriously though, the City ZX is a good package. The updates, while minor, do enough to make it a competitive option to the Toyota Vios. Actually, the Vios isn't a great deal different to the car it replaced either. Although the Vios could be technically considered to be a generation ahead of the City, in actuality this doesn't play out that way. Engine technology, transmission and even interior space are not improved greatly in the new Vios.

And, although the new Vios is not without its fans, I would rather have the City. First, I'm not a fan of the Vios styling, and I'm not keen on the central placement of the dials. And although the Vios starts cheaper than the Honda, by the time you include the vital safety equipment, pricing is very similar. The Honda has a very impressive CVT, which provides very smooth power delivery and the option of steering mounted gear shifting. Finally a 6' adult can sit in the rear of the City without having his/her head press against the roof. Headroom in the Vios is very poor.

If you're looking for a cheap and cheerful car, you could do worse than have a test drive in a City ZX. But, if you can wait, the all-new City can't be all that far away.