Honda City Hybrid test drive impressions: Positive & negative takeaways

While impressed with the City Hybrid, I am willing to wait & test drive the Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder & Maruti Grand Vitara as well.

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This week I could get done with the office a little earlier than usual and thought of checking out the new Honda City Hybrid. At home, we have the Jeep Compass (2017 model, diesel manual) and the Maruti Baleno (2019 model, petrol manual). I’m considering adding another car to be used predominately for city runabouts. With the hype around the Toyota Hyryder gaining pace, I thought of discovering what the hybrid technology has to present and whether it can serve as the stop-gate-arrangement until we fully transition to EVs.

Key positive points:

Key negatives points:

The driving feel

I took a 45-minute test drive in Delhi and came away rather impressed. The car drives very smoothly and as it automatically keeps shifting between the EV mode and engine mode, the car picks up from the low end very comfortingly. When you press the accelerator hard, the engine most often cranks up and you will get a gentle linear pull while the motor is making sounds as if it’s changing gears. The overall drive is not as electrifying – as, say, in the Nexon EV or MG ZS, but given that you will not have any range anxiety with this hybrid, IMO, this hybrid is actually the more practical solution. And I now think Toyota and Maruti’s approach towards strong hybrid products rather than EV offerings might actually make more sense. Overall, the car felt sprightly but not overall urgent in its power delivery, and this can be considered livable, in fact, enjoyable, in a day-to-day driving scenario.

Other important bits

The boot size is compromised due to the batteries, which is not acceptable when you consider the overall outlay of moolah which will take place if one decides to buy this car. The audio system has an unacceptable display and the sound output was average and nothing to write home about. Overall, despite its shortcomings, I was smitten with this car considering that it is futuristic. I do have concerns regarding the overall maintenance of the car, while I would want to trust the ‘Honda’ badge in this regard, considering that the service staff is yet unaware of this overly complex hybrid system, I may not get the best help to sort out any issues which may come up. Also, the benefit of easy maintenance generally associated with EVs does not get attached to a hybrid car as it actually might require more care.

The future

Right now, I’m waiting for the Hyryder and Vitara siblings to fully break cover and be available for test drives. Also, I would want to wait at least a year to see that there are no initial niggles with these products – the worrisome stories of the Skoda Kushaq owners have taught me well. The pricing of these two upcoming cars also plays an important role, and I’m hoping they will be able to justify their price tags (which are expected to be at the premium end).

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