Jay Chou music, check. Initial D T-Shirt, check. 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack, check. It's time for the Honda City VTEC on the road test !!
I've taken delivery of the Honda City VTEC for just under a week; I resisted the temptation to write a review about the car earlier because it's so easy to just fall in love with a new car and gloss over everything else. But now that I've had it for just under a week, I thought it was time to stretch the car's legs a bit, take it for a spin with a friend who knows his cars and can tell nuts apart from bolts, and a hard suspension from a bumpy road.
I took Sean for a drive from Puchong - Damansara Perdana - Putrajaya and back home - the entire loop planned with all sorts of conditions and traffic in mind - a good blend of some congestion (near 1 Utama), some urban highway driving (along the LDP) and then some highway driving (to Putrajaya and back).
Result? Fabulous. If you time the Initial D soundtrack to start just as you are driving on the LDP, you'd find that you are really in the right mind for overtaking, and some piu yi (drifting) - not that I can do any drifting - but I felt like doing it anyways. Anyone can teach me how to drift ah? Looks so darn cool man ...
How this car looks
The car itself is gorgeous IMHO. While people do have some comments about the City's curves, sorry folks, as a driver, I spend all my time in the car, behind the wheels. Can't really be bothered how it looks (and it actually looks really good). And you call it aerodynamic anyways. The 2005 MMC (facelift) City, which I got, had a more tapered look up front, and softer lines at the boot. I guess that's Honda on reaction on the feedback with regards to the look.
Don't you just find this sexy? Don't you just want to date the driver? (only straight females should apply .. watch for application form later .. ;-P)
To some, this is the ugliest view of the car. But would you just look at the muscular lines, and the chrome exhaust pipe ...
What the car has
2 Airbags, ABS, EBD, Electronic Power Steering, Leather Gear Knob, Parking Brake handle and Steering Wheel, CD Player (w/ MP3 and WMA support). It's got a 1.5 litre SOHC Honda VTEC L15 engine, producing 110 PS of horsepower with a maximum torque of 14.6 at 4,800 rpm (don't ask me to explain the last part ... impressive as it sounds, I think all it's really meant to mean is that it's got POW-AH). The VTEC has 15 inch alloy rims and a lower profile tyre.
What it feels like inside
Comfortable. If you have to choose between this car and the Vios for any drive longer than an hour, and you're of average height or taller, get this car. I'm not a tall guy, I'm around 1.7m. At my height, I can sit at the back seat with another 4-6 inches of clearance between me knees and the front seat. And there's so much headroom, I can seriously consider dating Marge Simpson again.
The noise, vibration and harshness ratings are good, and I agree with the raters. It's really quiet in the car, and only the noisiest lorries, mat motor and modified/beng-ified Mitshubitshi Evos break the silence.
The bumpy back suspension I reported earlier was nothing more than too much air pressure at the back tyres - once the right pressure was put in, the ride was smoother. Still, probably due to the height of the car, there's a bit more lateral roll than I'd like. I'll ask the Honda service guys to look into this when I send it for the 1000km servicing.
The 3 dial dashboard is compact, and informative. Takes a bit of getting used to the fact that its always lit up, unlike most cars.
What the driver feels
I feel like I own the road. Really - CVT technology means this thing don't have gears - thus you'll never feel the 'jerk' associated with some auto transmission cars. The steermatic thingy - where you can use buttons on the steering wheel to shift your gear, was a little hard to master, but once I got the hang on it, it took the driving experience up another notch. I'll drive up Genting using the steermatic instead of the normal D mode, since I have more control over the car using steermatic.
Acceleration is good, a little noisy when the RPM goes near the red zone, but I expect that anyways. Overtaking is now simple - you decide the car ahead is too slow, you make up your mind to overtake, step on the accelerator, and you've zoomed past the slow car. No more "What if I don't have the power .. ?"
Handling at corners is also good - I can hold the line even at speeds that would have flipped the old Wira. I won't do this often - it's a test after all, but it's good to know I can take corners at high speed.
And I often hit speeds of 160 without inducing any noticable strain on the car - the engine hardly complained - as long as I accelerated smoothly. You tekan minyak like your dad owns Petronas then of course the noise will come la ... I don't normally do anything over 160, so I didn't find it necessary to push it any higher.
You don't buy a car because of the sound system, really. But any self respectin' Ah Beng would at least need something respectable in the package. The car comes with Kenwood 1 din single disc CD Player, with MP3 and WMA support. Of course have FM/AM radio la. The VTEC has 2 front speakers located at the front door, and 2 rear speakers positioned just behind the rear headrest. It's decent.
Car theft is serious stuff in Malaysia. I've once lost a car before (and the thieves actually returned it too !!), so the fact that this car has Cobra alarms with Immobillizer gives me some peace of mind. The engine is immobilized 4 minutes after its turned off, and can only be restarted using the alarm key. There's another 20 different things I can do with it, but I'm still not done with the manual yet. It's obviously an improvement over my Proton. The Wira of old only really does 2 things - lock and unlock.
Haiyo ... ini kereta ah, cucuk orang boleh la ... orang cucuk ah, takda jadi punya. It might be me, but this car can magically remove slow cars from the fast lane. The old Wira would never have been able to do this. I actually managed to cucuk an Evo !!! Hehehehehe ... :-)
The only car that came close to cucuk-ing me was this BMW 5 series near Putrajaya. If I can beat a Beemer at high speed, straightline driving, I must be dreaming - of course, I gave way and let the Beemer thru.
Ha - this one I'm a little disappointed. At the end of the road test, I clocked nearly 400 kms on 33 litres of petrol, averaging just around 13 kms per litre of petrol. That's good by many people's standard, but I was expecting more of 15 kms per litre. Sean told me it might be because I had been driving around with wrong tyre pressure, and probably the stop-start driving lately due to the rainy season and the fact that I work in the KL. I've topped up the tank, and I'm going to see how it is again at the end of next week.
If you have a girlfriend/wife/mother/mother-in-law whose specialization is shopping, and you don't want to encourage them, please don't buy this car. If you are a pirated DVD peddler who always likes to carry full stock, then this is the car for you. The boot has SPACE. If this car was sold in the 30s, Al Capone would buy it coz the Honda sales guy would have pointed out the fact that you can keep 2 corpses in the trunk with space for the kerosene, a few magazines of bullets and also the stash of money from the other mobsters.
Well, I simply refuse to believe there are any cars that don't have any downsides. I mean, where got perfect one, right? Even your new found girlfriend would have traits you find objectionable, but put up with anyways.
Seriously, this car isn't meant for people who need loose change ... I don't find any convenient places for me to put my coins, so I gabra when I approach toll booths. You'll need to get yourself a Touch'n'Go card. I'm currently investigating if Honda (or it's subsidiaries or holding companies) have any stakes or links with Rangkaian Segar, the folks who sell Touch'n'Go. There must be some evil, top level conspiracy.
Black color car = strong arms muscle. I chose the black VTEC because it has that cool look about it. It screams 'sporty' and it's seriously menacing when going at 110 km/h down the NS highway at night. However, stupid people like me often forget that when you sayang your car, you do stupid things. Me? I keep trying to keep dust and dirt off the car. In vain la, of course - I've noticed muscle mass build-up along the major muscles involved in the car polishing and water wiping motions. Maybe it's not such a downside, after all ;-).
Feels a little 'float'-y. It's the lateral roll. On bumpier roads, such as every road in KL, most major highways in Malaysia and all roads which I think are flat, the ride is a wee bit bumpier than what I would like it to be. It's really not that noticable, but when you're driving around looking for faults, you'd notice little things.
Value for money: At 89K, many will find it expensive, but this car has features you'd probably find in cars 1 class above.
Sayang .... **cuddles VTEC** .... for the 89K I've paid for it, I'll say I feel like I got my money's worth. I'm sure the higher end cars would bring handling and comfort up a couple of notches, but for this Proton-worn butt, this sure feels like ecstacy. Highly Recommended - probably the best car in this price and capacity range.
So, there it is, my own review on the car. Overall, I'm all for it - I'll say that if you want a sporty car with decent interior and comfort, this car has it all. If you don't need to cucuk just about every car on the road, the i-DSI version actually gives you more bang for the buck in terms of fuel economy. Plus, the i-DSI version has ULTRA seats - those seats that can be folded in, like, 829 ways (or something like that) so you have more space. I think you can now transport shitloads of IKEA furniture and save yourself the RM65 delivery charges with this car. 65 bucks of petrol on this car will buy you something like 460 kms of fuel in urban stop-and-go traffic. I call that a real savings.
On the VTEC version, you get glove compartments under the back seats too ... that makes 4 glove compartments in the car (2 in front), 2 under the back seats. Anyone with a glove fetish must seriously consider this as the ideal automobile of choice.
I'd like to hear from anyone who's also driving the City VTEC ... oso feel bumpy ah? Or anyone else, for that matter ..