Friday, May 29, 2009

A true buddy...

Honda City ZX- The first word that comes into my mind is boring. Not a very impressive start eh? But read on to know why I respect the car so much.


Allow me to justify the 'b' word. For starters (literally) this car is way too silent. First timers are known to give the starter crank even though the engine is running. Take it up to 5000rpm in a busy street and the engine sound will easily drown in the surrounding traffic. There are times when you want to scare off some mortals off the road by revving up your engine, you miss that opportunity here. However the engine sound fails to effect my adrenaline levels.


With all that said, it surprises many (including myself) that it commands the highest degree of respect amongst the sedans of India. For that money, the kind of quality and 'Honda engineering' you get is unbeatable. Perhaps Verna comes close when I say value for money. You expect issues to start popping up with age. This car defies that very arrogantly. The engine sounds just as smooth as it was on day 1. With this car, you can dare to just pick it up and head for any road trip. Plans, preparations, service schedules can wait. Only a Honda motor inspires that kind of confidence. Though the power band is not very exciting, you would give anything for that kind of assurance. I agree, this comes with time. You may read quite a few articles where the young blood journo's rubbish this car for the lack of performance. But as I have come to understand, it takes a certain level of maturity to understand the car. It took me years to comprehend the good things the seasoned critics stated. Numbers (bhp, torque, top speed, 0-100kmph time) come later. First you need to understand the feel, the purpose and the meaning of a car.


There have been instances when I walk towards the car at 12 am or when I turn the key to stop at remote places on our raod trips. At such times, I thank my stars that I have this car's dedicated reliability on my side. Though I crave for more powerful motors, in times of need- I know this is the one I can depend on.


The power band is majestic for- as the name suggests- City driving. The torque is spread to lower RPM's mean you can easily glide, overtake and do almost everything from 1700-2500rpm. Sounds boring again?? Wait. This also means a superb mileage and eliminating the need of shifting gears (Indica people- listening?? Nyaaah nyaah na nyaah nyaah..). I can certify for a highway mileage of 19 KM/litre on our road trip to Rajasthan. Driving in the city is comfortable. You can give the clutch and your left foot rest as even the higher gears can pull it through lower speeds.

As for looks, the exterior is quite graceful. But the interiors leave no stone unturned. The dual tone dash and the beige seats (on the GXi variant) are very inviting. The plastic quality is very much acceptable and the cockpit gives a superb look at night. The cabin has loads of space. All of it- headroom, legroom and shoulderroom. One feature I miss is access to the boot from the rear seats through split seats. The boot is enough to hold everything you need (and possibly more) for those road trips.


Now lets touch the issues with this car. The most striking (and annoying for me) thing is that you can't see the hood. I have tried jumping, leaning and everything short of standing on the steering. Yet, I have failed time and again. The steep hood enables you to get a full view of the road. I found this pretty irritating initially in traffic jams.

With the main focus on achieving that mileage and efficiency target, Honda has done away with a lot of weight. It's good to be lean but then you miss out on a very important word- 'Substance'. It's quite embarrassing when someone (even a chhotu Esteem) touches your car from the back and your bumper falls off. Though Honda claims it is one of the safest cars built by them with impact bars placed smartly, I still don't like the idea of being too touch me not. The lack of weight added with the high ground clearance means a lot of body roll. The G- forces like scaring you at turns here.

Turning- now that rings another bell. How can I forget the stupid 'A' pillar!! Though I said many nice things about the cockpit, I forgot to warn you that the 'A' pillars (the ones holding the windshield) are a major hazard. It has the potential to blind you at every turn. You need to crane your neck everytime you negotiate a tough right turn.


The driving position otherwise is quite comfortable and the steering is very light- again pointing out to its name. The height takes time to be comfortable with but is a boon on Indian roads. Bye bye to those scary crunches or hits to the under-carriage on potholes and hindustaani speed-breakers.


Though I started with the word 'boring', I would conclude by saying that this is the most 'complete' car available in the market. Hats off to the "H" on the radiator grill..

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