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First Drive: All-New 2009 Honda City Grade E with Modulo

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the grateful arrangement by USJ Car Express for the Test unit for us to cover the First Drive of the Honda City 2009 for edvinteo.com.

Honda City is one of the hot favourite passenger cars in the Asian Automobile market and is commonly popular and economical to run. As Honda City have the balance of styling, economical, and performance at its class. I'm glad that Honda launched this model which have impressed in many ways. Some even say that this Honda City looks like a Mini-Honda Accord but to me, of course is not...

This replacement model has a major change comparing to the previous model from exterior to the inner. Further, this Honda City no longer shares the same interior design as Honda Jazz as well. However, they both have the same 1.5 i-VTEC engine loaded. Honda also simplify things by offering same type of engine for both grade of City, hence there is no story of i-DSI or VTEC no more. 

There also rumors from the internet, saying that the Honda City in China market will be getting the R18A engine. The R18A engine is similar to our Honda Civic 1.8 (FD1) in Malaysia. Guess that will be loads of fun with a 140ps 1.8 engine on a City, however it won't be surprise that the handling of the car will be awful due to the heavier engine on the front on a sub-compact car.

For our First Drive, the 2009 Honda City Grade E with Modulo Body kit is ready for edvinteo.com for exclusive review.


The new City is larger than the previous model to 4395mm in length, 1715mm in width, and 1470mm in height. This makes the City the largest car in the 1.5 liter sub-compact car class. Since Honda is very clever on considering on storage and room space, the car still remain having Rear Foldable Seats with 60:40 split and Rear Reclining Seats, under seat tray (for placing umbrella?) in this Grade E model. Besides, this Honda City has a large trunk with 506 liter capacity.


For this excitement city driving machine, the turning radius of this Honda City is still amazingly great as the previous one. It has the turning radius of 5.0m which is good for making U-turns and parking the car.


As part of more space & comfort for small passenger car, the Honda City is designed with wide door angle which is easy for passenger to access into the car and transporting goods (maybe a PC computer?). However, remember not to open it too big and hit people's car at the car park, alright?


Very sleek designed rear trunk and lamp comparing to the previous model as well as the current Toyota Vios which completely mess up. I believe, the Toyota market share for 1.5 liter sub-compact car will be affected by this introduction of Honda City.


This 16 inches Honda Modulo wheels is optional and similar to the current Honda Jazz. Potential Honda City owner can decide on for this set of Modulo wheels at extra of approximately RM2.5k. Personally, I think this set of Honda Modulo wheels suits this car well comparing to other aftermarket wheels.


The interior of the car doesn't have any fancy digital or stylish climate control (like Honda Jazz which looks like Microwave oven control/switches). But the steering wheel has leather trim with stitch on the Grade E, integrated Audio system and standard meter console. If you want something sporty, go for the Honda City Grade E as it comes with 'Paddle Shift' gearshift control on the steering wheel which you can find it at the higher range model of Honda (Civic 2.0 or Accord 2.4).


According to Honda, the new engine on the Honda City and Jazz will be more powerful, advanced and more economical then ever before. It delivers 120ps at 6600rpm and 145Nm torque at 4800rpm. You will not find CVT transmission in this Honda City anymore. I bet the Honda's engineer does their home work with their lesson learned that the traditional automatic transmission is still a better option in terms of reliability rather than the 'rubber band' technology transmission (CVT).


The engine characteristic is very similar to the Honda Civic 1.8 (FD1) which is also Drive-by-Wire (DBW). Whenever this car at low-load condition (at average 2500rpm with light throttle), the car is rather quiet and smooth. This is part of the key achievement of this i-VTEC engine on Fuel Economy, Performance and Quiet Operation. Whenever you feel for something extra, you will find this engine roar sweetly until the maximum power of 120ps @ 6600rpm with little more torque than the previous City with L15A VTEC.

As part of our first drive session, we conducted the 0-100km/h test as well. This is due to most factory claim are not very accurate in real drive condition. We manage to get a reasonable 11.5 seconds in 2 run with 2 passengers on-board in this 1.5 SOHC i-VTEC engine with 5-speed Auto Transmission.


There is a little space for placing coins or probably keys by the front passenger at the door panel.


The glove box is rather small but it is good enough to place the booklet and other necessity stuff like notepad, pen and torch light.


Triple Meter Cluster is nothing fancy for this car.


Vehicle Information Display which helps drivers to increase awareness in fuel efficient and consumption. The display show useful data on current & average fuel efficiency and estimated travel distance before refueling which you can normally find at high-end vehicle like Toyota Harrier.


When engine is idling, it will displays will indicate idle as well on the consumption.


Integrated Head unit is a tread for most of the production cars. As it is part of security which preventing theft on the Head unit since it only fits into the same type of car. The audio system come standards with USB Port & AUX Terminal. Since USB and AUX are common interfaces, hence it allows connecting a wide range of devices such as iPod, MP3 players, Mobile HDDs and USB Flash Disk.


As part of 6 channels speakers, the front tweeter is mounting on the side mirror cover which looks neat. Some people even say that this position for tweeter will have better sound effect too.


Reasonable head room for regular sized Asian with average height of 170cm.


Water Repellent Seats which is standard for VTEC model on the previous Honda City. However, we can get it as standard for both Grade S and Grade E model now.


Honda Malaysia offers the car with 5 colours option - (1) Deep Lapis Blue Metallic (which you can find in my previous post), (2) Crystal Black Pearl (which you find in this current post), (3) Polished Metal Metallic, (4) Alabaster Silver Metallic (that is similar to Civic FD), and (5) Bold Beige Metallic.

In conclusion, this Honda City is much improve from the previous model from exterior, interior, engine and transmission. The introduction of this car does create competition and impact to other car manufacturer like Toyota. I believe, this car will be awarded for Car of the Year in Sub-compact Car Category for at least 2-continuous year. If you considering a reliable and affordable car for daily use with the budget of RM80k to RM90k, I will recommend this for sure at this point of time!

Relevant Posts:
First View: All-New 2009 Honda City in Malaysia - 20 Dec 2008
2009 Hondy City Modulo - 16 Sept 2008
2009 Honda City officially launched in Thailand - 11 Sept 2008