India has always been obsessed with fuel economy. Well, adding evidences and reports to this fact is as smart as bait. You and I have always adhered maximizing fuel economy, and if you deny the certainty of it, then you must be lying. The race to electrify the automobile industry has taken momentous attention. However, the Japanese giant bets its destiny on the strong hybrid tech to facilitate sustainable mobility transition. The Honda City, in its hybrid avatar, claims to carry the legacy forward with a respectable ARAI claimed 26.5 km/l of fuel economy. How rewarding is Hybrid tech on the Indian roads? How enriching is the experience with the Honda City e:HEV in the real world? Here is our comprehensive road test report.

2022 Honda City e:HEV : Fuel economy and performance

Honda City e:HEV triumphs the case for itself in terms of fuel efficiency. We have extensively driven it in the city confines, and the Honda City e:HEV delivered a respectable fuel economy of around 20-21kmpl. Even on the highways, with my spirited driving style, City hybrid managed to pull out decent mileage figures of 23 kmpl. I reckon if driven at a leisurely pace, City e:HEV will deliver mileage close to its ARAI claimed figures.

The Honda City e:HEV mostly puts itself in the grind in pure EV mode, especially at low speeds. Moreover, the provision of regenerative braking juices up the battery. Honda has put in a well-engineered strong hybrid tech in the City e:HEV, wherein its 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine alone sends the power to wheels via a differential attached to the axle with a single high-speed gear at speeds above 85-95kmph. As mentioned, City e:HEV drives on a pure EV mode at speeds up to 40-45kmph and at speeds above that, one can notice the hybrid system working in tandem to propel the car. Everything is being showcased on the instrumental screen in which mode the City is driven. Drive enthusiastically, and the hybrid mode gets activated instantaneously to deliver maximum performance. A fact to note: We can not manually select driving mode, and the Power Control Unit activates driving mode automatically according to driving conditions and style. There are two motors, one is a generator motor, and the other is a traction motor . The generator motor is attached to the engine as well as the battery, whereas the traction motor is attached to the lithium-ion battery and sends power to the wheels. During hybrid mode driving, the generator motor also charges the lithium-ion battery.

The 1.5-litre iVTEC engine runs on an efficient Atkinson cycle that produces 98hp and 127 Nm of torque.(Click here, to know about Atkinson cycle). In contrast, the e-motors produce 109hp of power and work in tandem with the engine to deliver a combined power output of 126hp . The power delivery is smooth and linear, and I didn’t find any jerk or lag whatsoever as the shuffling of driving mode is done seamlessly.

2022 Honda City e:HEV: Driving Dynamics

The weight of the City hybrid is up by around 200kgs compared with the standard City. Well, the added weight is due to the battery and other complexities of hybrid technology. However, the added weight and lower center of gravity do not comprise ride quality. The suspension soaks up potholes and speed bumps quite easily, and ride quality feels comfortable. The steering feedback was also pretty confident aspiring on tight curves and corners. However, the NVH levels are not as well insulated as I would have expected from a hybrid powertrain. I was also impressed with the mile-munching capabilities of the City hybrid. It was extremely relaxing, and I didn’t notice any fatigue whatsoever.

Honda City Hybrid gets a dedicated ‘B’ mode, also known as Braking mode, which helps achieve the desired level of regeneration. There are paddles behind the steering wheel, essentially for managing the level of regenerative braking allowing the car to decelerate. However, one can not stop entirely on the regenerative paddle controls. All-in-all, the brakes feel sure-footed. But I wish regenerative paddle braking to be a little more aggressive in level-3.

2022 Honda City e:HEV: Features

Honda has equipped the new City Hybrid with the camera-based Advanced Driver Assistance System known as Honda Sensing. I drove the car in the heavy rains of Mumbai, and I found the working of Honda Sensing a little bit disappointing as it was unable to correct and make me aware of reckless lane changes I took for the test. There is a provision for switching OFF the Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) system as it can be  sometimes annoying. The RDM and Lane Keep Assist work flawlessly on the Expressway where the lines are well marked. And as we are all aware, our city roads are not nicely laid out to amplify the ADAS feature. Well, I admit it is a road test,  but I feared testing the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMB) that the City hybrid comes equipped with. Honda City hybrid is also equipped with ample safety features like six airbags, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), HSA (Hill Start Assist), TPMS ( Tyre Pressure Monitoring System), traction control and an ISOFIX child mounts. There is also a lane watch camera and a multi-angle rearview camera whose quality is not up to the standards, and the view appears pixelated.

Thanks to the battery, which is mounted under the rear seats, the boot space is now lessened to only 306 liters. So, accommodating more than two luggage bags is a task in itself. Well, the rear seat comfort and cabin space remain spacious. Moreover, the smart cabin storage provisions make the cabin feel clutter-free. However, the lower position of the center armrest on the rear seat is a bit uncomfortable for me.

2022 Honda City e:HEV : Verdict

Pricey affair! Shockingly, India does not reward hybrid cars with its taxation regime. The hybrid City costs around 19.80 lakhs(ex-showroom), which is an expensive proposition to transit to something greener and cleaner. On the other hand, its competitor sedan in petrol and diesel guise are relatively much cheaper.Moreover, the diesel Honda City with its ARAI claimed mileage of around 24kmpl is 4-5 lakhs cheaper than the hybrid City. However, the exclusivity and feel-good factor of contributing to the environment with a lesser carbon footprint is something Honda City e:HEV is to cherish for. So justifying the premium to lessen the running cost does’nt convince the financial brain. But, a hybrid City will appeal to the hearts of environment-conscious buyers who wish to have a comparatively less carbon footprint and do not want to rely on the current unviable EV ecosystem. The spacious and neatly laid-out cabin, technologically advanced and efficient powertrain and sophisticated sedan-like looks are trump cards for hybrid City. And with more such hybrid cars looming in the Indian market will strengthen the case for hybrid vehicles in future. Honda has showcased its strengths and promises to transit to a sustainable future with the iconic name, Honda City e:HEV, putting a solid case for itself as a future-proof car.