2021 Honda City Quick Drive Review: Up for the challenge

Updated Mar 10, 2021

Editor's: 4.0/5
Ready to go head-to-head with its rivals.
2021 Honda City Quick Drive Review: Up for the challenge

In this review...

  1. Overview
  2. Exterior
  3. Interior
  4. Engine & Performance
  5. Initial Verdict

2021 Honda City: Here’s everything we know

The subcompact sedan segment is one of the popular vehicle categories in the Philippines due to its attractive pricing. As such, car brands are launching its respective challengers in the said segment.

One of which is the City, which is the second best-selling Honda vehicle in the country last year with more than 3,000 units sold. It sits behind the Brio in terms of total 2020 sales. 

2021 Honda City RS front profile

2021 Honda City RS

The City can be considered as one of the important models of Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI). The sales momentum it had in 2020 was further pushed forth by the launch of the all-new Honda City last October.

With that in mind, can the all-new 2021 Honda City sustain the sales momentum it had last year? Can its stylish and sporty exterior be enough to yield unit sales and further increase HCPI’s market share? To know the answers to that, HCPI invited us to take part in the media test drive for the all-new Honda City.

The drive started in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) all the way to the winding roads of Tanay, Rizal then back to Antipolo City. As such, here’s Philkotse’s 2021 Honda City Quick Drive review.

2021 Honda City Quick Drive Review: More than just good looks

4.0 /5

Honda City 2021 Review

How we do our reviews
  • aesthetics
    4.5/5

    Overall exterior & Interior design, build quality, form vs function

  • Safety & Technology
    4.0/5

    Number of safety & tech features, consistency during usage

  • Performance
    3.5/5

    Power delivery, acceleration, transmission, suspension, handling

  • Comfort & Practicality
    4.0/5

    Overall Ride Comfort, Space, Storage Areas

  • Value for Money
    4.0/5

    Sticker price vs overall package

2021 Honda City Quick Drive: Exterior Review

The 2021 Honda City comes with a sporty exterior design across all four variants: S MT, S CVT, V CVT, and RS CVT. All of the City variants are sporty-looking on their own but, the sleekest and the most distinctive among the bunch is the top-spec RS trim.  

2021 Honda City RS front profile

2021 Honda City RS comes with sharp-looking headlights

The 2021 Honda City RS is fitted with sharp-looking LED headlights along with a mesh grille that’s integrated with a glossy black trim. Moreover, the City RS comes with a different style for its turn signal.

Honda equipped the 2021 City RS with a strip of LED turn signal that’s integrated into the headlight housing. The distinctive design features of the City RS continue to be seen through its LED fog lamps that are coupled with a prominent trim, giving the vehicle an aggressive look. 

Overall, the front fascia of the 2021 Honda City is way better as compared to the older model. Aside from having a sporty look, the top-spec City RS has the closest resemblance to its bigger sibling, the Honda Civic.      

Turning at the side, the 2021 Honda City RS features sharp character lines that extend all the way to the back. This allows the City to have a bolder look when viewed from the side. Honda’s subcompact sedan is also fitted with a set of 16-inch alloy wheels that gives extra style points to the overall look of the vehicle.

2021 Honda City RS rear

Look at the taillights

The thing that I like most about the City’s rear design is the LED taillights. The taillights now look better than ever as compared to one fitted in the older Citys.

They now look sharper and more aggressive, giving the City a surefooted appeal when you view it from the rear. Moreover, the taillights set the tone for the overall look of the rear that includes an angular bumper, which adds accent to the car.

To top it all of, the 2021 Honda City RS is integrated with a lip spoiler and a diffuser.

>>> Related: 2021 Honda City Old vs New: Spot the differences

2021 Honda City V front profile shot

2021 Honda City V variant

Indeed, it’s hard not to like the City’s all-new look. The RS trim has a striking exterior that could appeal to individuals who are searching for a sporty-looking car.

On the other hand, the mid and the entry-level trim of the all-new City can cater to individuals who are leaning more on the conservative side. Whichever you prefer, the all-new City comes with a well-thought exterior design that could even be considered the best in its class.

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2021 Honda City Quick Drive: Interior Review

Inside, the 2021 Honda City RS comes with a black interior theme along with red stitching. On the other hand, the City V variant has a two-tone interior of black and white. Aside from that, the revamped interior layout is pretty much similar across all variants of the 2021 Honda City.

2021 Honda City V interior

Interior of the Honda City V

The 2021 City features a straightforward dashboard layout that looks simple yet it makes the cabin more premium looking. The arrangement of buttons on the center console is nice, and it won’t confuse you even if it’s your first time sitting inside the car.

The buttons and vehicle functions on the center console are well-arranged, which gives you a clutter-free interior that helps in giving you good forward visibility when you’re on the road.      

2021 Honda City RS steering wheel

The City RS comes with red stitching

The steering wheel also has a good grip, and it now looks more stylish. The materials used for the integrated controls on the steering wheel don’t look cheap.

However, the buttons for volume controls are quite stiff, and it doesn’t have a hold function in case you want to increase or decrease the in-cabin audio. You need to press it repeatedly until you set your desired in-cabin audio volume.

The crown of the cabin is an 8-inch touchscreen that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With that, you can have connectivity on the go, with seamless access to apps such as Waze and Spotify. In addition, all variants of the 2021 Honda City come with a push start button.  

Of note, the V and RS variants of the 2021 Honda City have a cruise control, which can make your drives along expressways more comfortable and relaxed.

But, it is only the City RS that comes with paddle shifters that can give you better control over the vehicle especially when you’re driving on winding roads similar to the one in Tanay.  

2021 Honda City V rear seats

2021 Honda City V rear seats

The rear passenger area, on the other hand, offers good leg- and head-room. It can comfortably accommodate 2 to 3 individuals.

But, for you to fully maximize and enjoy the rear passenger area, it’s better if there are only two individuals seated at the back. The V and RS variants also come with rear aircon vents that help in cooling down the cabin more efficiently.

>>> Related: 2021 Honda City debuts: Sleek design, more tech toys, initial pricing

2021 Honda City Quick Drive: Engine & Performance

During the media test drive, I was assigned to get onboard the V variant of the 2021 Honda City. Similar to all other variants, the City V is powered by 1.5-liter gasoline engine that delivers 119 hp and 145 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The first thing I noticed while driving the 2021 City is it has good acceleration from a standstill. The 1.5-liter gasoline engine also delivers adequate power especially when the City is driven along the roads of BGC.

The transmission is smooth, which is expected since the vehicle comes with a CVT. The suspension feels alright, and it can absorb road impacts within reason giving you a comfortable driving experience. 

On the other hand, the City has a light steering feel, which is beneficial when you’re driving on urban roads. It also responds well even to minimal inputs.

Another thing I like to note is the City comes with good forward visibility as well as nice sound insulation (or NVH), reducing outside road noise to a minimum. 

2021 Honda City media drive

The 2021 Honda City is a well-capable car but driving through uphill roads can be a bit of a challenge. It takes a couple of seconds before the City’s gear ratio (or speed ratio) adjusts but not to the point of compromising the overall driving experience.

Good thing, the 2021 Honda City V variant comes with a Sport mode, which gives you better acceleration and throttle response that allows you to drive through uphill roads easier. 

With that said, I wish the City V variant also comes with the RS-exclusive paddle shifters. 

2021 Honda City media drive

When driven on Tanay’s winding roads, the City has a tolerable body roll giving you confidence in taking corners. It also has a stable ride that makes the overall drive more comfortable.

In terms of fuel economy, I got a combined rating of 10.5 km/l throughout the duration of the drive from BGC to Tanay, Rizal, and to Antipolo City. Expect a more comprehensive fuel economy rating once we fully reviewed the 2021 Honda City.

>>> Related: Sib Duel: 2020 Honda City vs Honda Civic Specs Comparison

2021 Honda City Quick Drive: Initial Verdict

Overall, the 2021 Honda City is a well-designed car inside and out. The exterior is sporty-looking across all its four variants. The revamped interior is better than the outgoing model as it gives the cabin a more premium look.

The City’s 1.5-liter gasoline engine also delivers adequate power. Plus, the 2021 Honda City has a five-star safety rating from the New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN NCAP).

2021 Honda City RS

The 2021 Honda City is up for the challenge

Considering all the points mentioned, the all-new Honda City can definitely sustain HCPI’s  momentum and is up for the challenge in helping the company bounce back this 2021.

Martin Aguilar

Martin Aguilar

Author

Martin is the Content Editor of Philkotse. His love for cars first started when he got a remote-controlled toy as a birthday present. Then, Martin’s interest in cars was further developed through his family’s humble collection of Japanese cars.

Martin started his writing career as an editorial assistant and writer for various magazines under ABS-CBN Publishing. Before joining Philkotse, Martin was a writer for Autoindustriya then shifted gears in 2017 to become the editor for AutoDeal.

Aside from his interest in cars, Martin loves to read crime-thriller novels, play basketball in the virtual world, eat tapsilog, and go for random road trip adventures.

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