5th generation Honda City: gasoline versus diesel versus hybrid. Which engine to buy?

Both gasoline and hybrid powertrains come with a CVT gearbox, however, the diesel engine lacks the transmission option.

Honda Cars India launched the 5th generation City sedan in the Indian market in July 2020. The 5th generation iteration of the midsize sedan comes in three variants: V, VX and ZX all offered with a choice of petrol and diesel engine options. All three petrol versions also come with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, while the diesel comes standard with a manual gearbox.

Fast forward to May 2022, Honda introduced the e:HEV (hybrid) version of the City to the Indian market. The new Honda City Hybrid is offered exclusively in the top version and has two electric motors, coupled to the gasoline engine. The hybrid powertrain is offered with the standard CVT automatic transmission.

So if you were to buy the Honda City, which engine option would you choose and why?

Starting with the gasoline, Honda offers the City sedan with a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter unit. It produces 119 BHP at 6,600 rpm and 145 Nm at 4,300 rpm and is mated to a 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Here are GTO’s observations after driving the Honda City 1.5L petrol, “Gorgeous, FANTASTIC, delicious 1.5L petrol engine. This is India’s BENCHMARK naturally aspirated petrol, regardless of engine size .You’ll enjoy spinning it.Owners will need God’s will not to redline at ~7000rpm every chance they get.In particular, you’ll love the shooting experience from 5000 to 7,000 rpm in “full Vtec mode” up to 7,000 rpm. Read GTO’s full observations – here.

The hybrid powertrain is the latest offering from Honda on the City. It is powered by the same 1.5-litre NA petrol engine but is paired with two electric motors, delivering a combined output of 124 BHP and 253 Nm. The powertrain is mated to a CVT as standard and offers three drive modes : EV, hybrid and petrol.

At low speeds in town, the City Hybrid drives effortlessly. It tries to stay in EV mode as much as possible and sometimes you will feel the motor IC lightly come on to charge the battery and then turn off again after a while. If you push the throttle a little further to close a gap, the internal combustion engine kicks in and provides the required thrust. On the highway, the City Hybrid responds to throttle inputs more linearly. At around 80 km/h you can see a small light symbol on the power flow meter indicating that the clutch has engaged the engine directly. Shifts are more linear with throttle inputs, and you can effortlessly cruise through triple-digit speeds. Read the full official Honda City Hybrid review – here.

Switching to diesel, the Honda City sedan is powered by a 1.5-litre unit, which produces 98 BHP at 3,600 rpm and 200 Nm at 1,750 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission as standard.

Here is what GTO should say about it:

My pick for the Honda City would be the 1.5L CVT. A smooth automatic transmission, one of the best naturally aspirated gasoline engines in the country and a truly versatile sedan. Sucks that the Diesel doesn’t get the CVT like the Amaze and the Hybrid is overpriced.

Here is what BHPian Shreyans_Jain should say about it:

The CVT-mated 1.5 iVTEC gets my whole vote. Proven durable powertrains that are refined, efficient and energetic enough. I’ve had the diesel for over 175,000 km. Other than good fuel efficiency and reliability, there’s nothing to like about this engine. It is coarse, noisy and has average performance that begins to diminish over years and miles. Nothing good here. As for the hybrid, it’s hilariously overpriced for the economic advantage it offers, especially considering the loss of trunk space. I also have concerns about the long-term reliability of this complicated powertrain in harsh Indian conditions.

Here is what BHPian Shome should say about it:

Voted for Hybrid, subjective to my use case.

I wouldn’t consider the City an enthusiast’s car, its high-speed dynamics are nothing out of the ordinary and its stability at 120 km/h is poor. If I were to buy a C2 sedan, with all the new highways coming, I’d go for better highway dynamics. The chassis just doesn’t do justice to the gem of an engine, NA’s, that is

Also, in subways, where and when will we experience the engine running, maybe 20% of the car’s lifetime or ownership time? The city is therefore a place for people to travel, for family receptions, going to the office during peak periods, perhaps to the market, etc.

The hybrid, although a little expensive, is perfectly suited to this use. Will take care of my pocket in terms of consumption in stop-go traffic over the long haul, while giving me 90% of NA performance if and when I need it

PS: I will not consider the city at all, the above is just for engine preference.

Here is what BHPian avira_tk should say about it:

We got a ZX CVT to replace our decade-old Fiesta (a great car by the way). The City diesel is not an upgrade from the TDCI on the Ford, the decade-old engine is smoother than the Honda diesel.

The hybrid compromises on boot space, absolutely not when it’s the main car. Diesel has no auto and even if it did, the price would make petrol a good value. The 1.5 Vtec is probably the oldest engine brand in India, happy to finally experience it.

Check out BHPian’s comments for more ideas and information.

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