Rising fuel prices – one big problem faced by all of us. While automakers are looking at alternate fuel options like electric and CNG, Japanese brands are looking at efficient strong hybrids for the Indian market. Honda is all set to introduce the first mass market strong hybrid car – the new City e:HEV in the Indian market on May 4, 2022.
Based on the hugely popular City sedan, the 2022 Honda City e:HEV or Hybrid has an 1.5L Atkinson cycle engine and two large electric motors and a decently sized battery pack in the trunk. This model is claimed to be 35 or 40 percent more efficient than the petrol-powered City sedan. In fact, the City hybrid is more fuel efficient than many compact hatchbacks on sale in our market.
The new 2022 Honda City e:HEV is claimed to be a perfect family car, offering ample space for 5 adults, fuel efficiency above 26kmpl and advance safety tech. Honda claims that the new City hybrid car run up to 1000km on a single charge, which is fantastic. We got the chance to test drive the new City hybrid on the streets of Bangalore. In this first drive review, we try to find out how good is the new City Hybrid and should customer consider this hybrid car over the ICE or EVs on sale in our market.
City Hybrid Vs City Petrol – Big Changes
The new City hybrid looks largely identical to the regular ICE version, except for the few changes. At the front, it gets a blacked-out mesh patterned grille below the chromed bar, and new blacked-out plastic casing for the fog lamp. The rear profile has a new spoiler and faux carbon black finish on the lower bumper. The Honda logo has blue illumination, which reveals its hybrid nature.
The cabin also looks identical to the regular model. The big change is made on the central tunnel, which has more space to keep mobile phones and other stuff. Instead of handbrake, it gets electronic parking brake. The sedan gets an all-new instrument panel, which shows all the parameters like average fuel economy, car drive modes and other vital information.
The new City Hybrid is around 110kg heavier than the regular City sedan. The boot space has been reduced significantly, as it offers 306-litres luggage space as compared to 506-litres space in the ICE version. Another change is the addition of rear disc brake, which is added to counter the additional torque availability due to hybrid powertrain.
The new Honda City hybrid also gets ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System), which company calls Honda Sensing. The ADAS features include Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control and Auto High Beam. It also gets the Lane Watch Assist System.
Honda City Hybrid Powertrain Explained
The new City Hybrid comes with a completely different powertrain. The engine unit comprising of a 98bhp, 1.5-litre petrol that runs on a more efficient ‘Atkinson cycle’. The engine is also aided by two electric motors – one work as generator and another work as a traction motor. The electric motor puts out a strong 109bhp, which confirms that this is no mild hybrid system. The maximum combined power output of the powertrain is not revealed; however, Honda claims that the maximum usable power is 126bhp. The maximum combined torque stands at 253Nm (engine offering 127Nm & the electric motor offers 253Nm).
What’s interesting is that Honda City hybrid has no gearbox. It has no CVT gearbox and no set of gear wheels. The sedan has a single direct gear for high speed driving. In the hybrid and electric mode, traction motor is responsible to turn the wheels. The sedan mostly runs in hybrid mode, and the engine is only run to charge the battery. It also gets re-generative braking and also saves energy while decelerating – channelling the wasted energy to the battery using an electric generator.
New Honda City Hybrid – Performance
Driving new City Hybrid is completely different experience compared to the regular City. However, settling down behind the steering is easy as this is a City. The engine remains in the switched off mode when you hit the push start button, and the car moves off silently on battery power alone. There is a green logo illuminates on the instrument panel, which suggests that the sedan is going in EV mode. The sedan feels silent, smooth and easy to drive in stop-go traffic.
On gentle acceleration, the new City hybrid runs up to 50-60kmph speed in pure electric mode. On harder throttle input, the battery drains fast and the 1.5L petrol engine comes into working. The City hybrid responds very similar to the CVT equipped City petrol, and this could be the reason behind Honda calling it an E-CVT.
While pushing it gently, the new City hybrid remains largely silent giving comfortable and noise free ride experience. On harder throttle input, the engine noise and road noise starts entering the cabin. The engine gets significantly louder at higher speed and on aggressive throttle input.
The new City hybrid has a very liner power delivery and it doesn’t feel quick initially. What’s interesting is that the new hybrid is claimed to achieve 0-100kmph in under 10 seconds, and is faster than the regular model. Once it enters the hybrid mode, the torque delivery feels much stronger and it starts responding way better on throttle input. The high torque also helps in achieving greater speeds at any point.
The sedan enters the petrol only mode post 120kmph. At this point, the engine powers the front wheels. The powertrain closes the clutch and uses a single gear ratio to power the wheels. The car automatically switches between the combustion motor and pure EV mode when you stop giving throttle input. The switching between different modes are done automatically and it works seamlessly.
There is a ‘B’ mode on the gear lever, which can adjust regeneration levels using the paddles behind the steering wheel. In the B mode, the vehicle runs mostly in ‘one-pedal-mode’. The braking feels progressive in nature, and you need to use harder braking for sharp bit. This is due to regenerative braking system.
What impresses the most is the handling and suspension setup of the new City hybrid. I can say that this is the most exciting car in its category. The suspensions are tuned in a way to handle regular undulations on the Indian roads. The steering feedback is precise and you will enjoy this car during city as well as on highway rides.
The new City hybrid is claimed to return an ARAI certified fuel economy of 26.5kmpl. In our test (High speed, low speeds & City Traffic), we got a mileage closer to 20kmpl. We expect the sedan to easily return close to 22kmpl in city and closer to 24kmpl on highways.
– High fuel efficiency
– Excellent performance
– Spacious Cabin
– Well packaged product, offers high-end features
– Engine gets noisier on hard acceleration
– Interior quality could have been better