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Honda City vs. Toyota Yaris vs. Changan Alsvin — Is New Really Better?

The landscape of Pakistan’s compact sedan segment shifted slightly with the debut of the 6th Generation Honda City yesterday.

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While several other markets have the 7th generation Honda City, the Pakistani market has once again been presented with a ‘new model’ that is a generation old. It is, in fact, a fair improvement, particularly in terms of modern amenities over the 5th generation City.

The subcompact segment sedans are supposed to appeal to a mid-tier socio-economic segment of car buyers. The Toyota Yaris is currently the most popular sedan in this segment, while the Changan Alsvin is also high in demand due to its relatively affordable price tag.

This begs the question of whether the ‘new’ City has what it takes to help Honda Atlas Cars Limited (HACL) grab a larger market share in an industry that is gradually filling up with competitors.

Let us go through the attributes of each of these vehicles and find out.

Design

Honda City

Stylistically, the 6th generation of the Honda City is not strikingly different from the previous generation. Its body is compact and has a sharp outline, with a few cosmetic changes overall.

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The front fascia features a pair of new double-barrel halogen headlights that are wrapped around halfway by the LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), a front grille similar to that of the new Honda Civic, a refreshed bumper design, and a slightly revised bonnet design.

The side displays a marginally refreshed front fender design and a few pronounced lines that span from the taillights to the front passenger doors. The alloy rim design (in the Aspire trim-level only) is also relatively sharper than the previous model, and the chrome door handles add a fine finish to the side of the vehicle.

The rear end has a refreshed rear bumper, taillights (Non-LED for Pakistan), a chrome strip between the taillights, and a black garnish strip at the bottom of the bumper.

Although the 6th generation Honda City has a somewhat busy design, it seems to be put together more harmoniously than the Toyota Yaris. The sleek silhouette, sharp lines, and an apt wheelbase allow the City to look both striking and familiar, which is a positive attribute.


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Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris is an odd-looking car. The headlights, front grille, and the huge bumper grille down below give the front the appearance of ‘the Joker’s smile’.

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The offbeat design continues on the side, as the bulky side profile, accentuated ride height, and small tire size also seem to be in conflict with each other.

The rear has a completely different and subtle look as compared to the noisy front. The marginally longer and straightened-out tail, the elongated taillights, and the smooth bumper design make the rear end of the Yaris look like a baby Corolla.

The person or the team that designed this vehicle seemed to have had severe internal clashes that resulted in its disproportionate look.

Changan Alsvin

Changan evidently played it safe while designing the Alsvin Sedan, which has resulted in a positive outcome. The Alsvin is a decent-looking vehicle with an aggressive and stylish front fascia, thanks to a large and imposing front grille, a sharp pair of headlights, cutting-edge LED DRLs, and a smooth front design.

The side profile is similar to that of any other compact family sedan with a few sharp lines that span across the length of the vehicle, an average-looking set of 15-inch alloy wheels, and body-colored door handles that add to a clean look.

The subdued design theme continues at the back, as the Alsvin features a simple pair of taillights, a bumper, and reflectors. Note that while the rear design looks reasonable, it also looks a generation old.

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Overall, the Alsvin is a fairly handsome-looking family sedan, especially in the metallic blue and the new space grey paint jobs.

Interior

Honda City

A similarity to the previous model can be observed inside the new City as it mostly consists of the same general design and layout as the 5th generation Honda City.

The interior has a similar-looking steering wheel with the exception of multifunction control buttons mounted on the sides and a slightly refreshed dash design that includes infotainment and climate control switches. Like the previous generation, the dash seems to be made entirely of black and grey plastic trim pieces that make the car feel ‘less premium’.

The headliner, door panels, and seat fabric are cream-colored and slightly brighten the cabin while adding to the roomy and airy feel.

The cabin space seems plentiful to seat a family of five but tall people might struggle sitting in the back for long periods because of the limited headroom. There is, however, the added comfort of rear air vents for air conditioning in the Aspire trim of the new City.

Toyota Yaris

Although clean and nicely laid out, Yaris’ interior has a lot of scratchy plastics. However, the silver trim pieces around the vents and the center control stack, and on the steering wheel allow the interior to appear a bit dignified.

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The seats are covered in soft cotton fabric and the cabin is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate either a young family of five (two adults and three children) or four adults, but people over six feet tall are likely to struggle in the backseat because of the legroom.


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Changan Alsvin

The Alsvin has been given a more futuristic approach in terms of the layout of its interior. The design is cutting edge while being on the better side of simple interiors with a modern cockpit and a pleasant ivory-beige interior that complements the black dashboard and door panels. The interior also has several bits of hard plastic, including the dash and the door panels.

In terms of room (based on reviews in the international market and the fact that it is a subcompact sedan), the Alsvin can comfortably seat either a family of five or four adults. However, like its competitors, people taller than six feet are likely to struggle in the backseat during long rides.

Dimensions and Weight

The following are the proportions and measurements of all three cars:

Measurements Honda City Toyota Yaris Changan Alsvin
Wheel Base 2,600 mm 2,250 mm 2,610 mm
 Overall Width 1,694 mm 1,730 mm 1,745 mm
Overall Length 4,442 mm 4,425 mm 4,390 mm
Overall Height 1,498 mm 1,475 mm 1,468 mm
Kerb Weight (Top Trim Level) 1,165 kg 1,100 kg 1,240 kg
Ground Clearance 172 mm 175 mm 151 mm
Trunk Capacity 510 Ltr 476 Ltr 390 Ltr

Performance

Honda City

The 6th generation of the Honda City in Pakistan has two engine options. One is a 1.2 liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 89 hp and 110 Nm of torque, which is less power output than the previous 1.3-liter engine in the base variant but allows for enhanced fuel efficiency. The second option is a 1.5 liter, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 118 hp and 145 Nm of torque.

Both engines can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a CVT transmission depending on the variant.

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The car consists of a McPherson strut suspension up front and a Torsion Bar Coil-Spring suspension in the back. It also has ventilated disc brakes with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) in the front and conventional drum brakes in the back.

Based on the results of the road tests done by the international car magazines, the 1.2 variants are known to provide a fuel average of 13 to 16 km/liter while the 1.5 variants manage about 10 to 14 km/liter.

Toyota Yaris

The Yaris is also offered with two engine options — the base 1.3-liter, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that produces 98 hp, and 123 Nm of torque, and a bigger 1.5 liter, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes a non-remarkable 106 hp, and 14o Nm of torque. Depending on the variant, both engines can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission.

The car’s suspension setup consists of McPherson struts in the front and a Torsion Bar Coil-Spring suspension at the back. It also has ventilated disc brakes with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) in the front and conventional drum brakes in the back.

Although Toyota claims that both the powertrains manage 14 to 16 km/liter, the actual figures may differ.

Changan Alsvin

The Alsvin is also available with two powertrain options. The base trim has a 1.3 liter, naturally aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 95 hp and 135 Nm of torque, and is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The mid and top trim levels both have a 1.5 liter, naturally aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine that also makes a rather weak 105 hp but a good 145 Nm of torque, that is mated to a 5-speed DCT automatic gearbox.

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For the suspension setup, the Alsvin has McPherson Struts in the front and a torsion bar coil-spring setup at the back. It also has ventilated disc brakes in the front with ABS Technology and conventional drum brakes at the back.

Although there are still no verified local figures for the fuel economy available, owners’ reviews suggest that the vehicle provides a fuel average of upwards of 13 km/liter and below 16 km/liter.


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Safety and Convenience Features

The following comparison is between top variants only to determine the complete range of features that they offer. These are their specs and features:

Specs and Features Honda City 1.5 Aspire CVT Toyota Yaris 1.5 ATIV X CVT Changan Alsvin 1.5 Lumiere DCT
Safety 
Central Power Door Locks Yes Yes Yes
Immobilizer System and Burglar Alarm Yes Yes Yes
Parking Sensors No No Yes 
Backup Camera Yes Yes Yes
Fog Lights Yes Yes No
Daytime Running Lights Yes Yes Yes
ABS Brakes Yes Yes Yes
Hill-start Assist No Yes No
Traction + Vehicle Stability Control No Yes No
Cruise Control Yes No Yes
Airbags 2 2 2
Convenience 
Infotainment System Yes Yes Yes
Advanced Gauge Cluster with a Digital Screen Yes Yes Yes
12 Volt Socket Yes Yes Yes
USB Connectivity Yes Yes Yes
Automatic Climate Control Yes Yes Yes
Rear A.C. Vents Yes No No
Outside Rear View Mirror Electric Folding Yes No Yes
Keyless Entry and Push Start Yes Yes Yes
Sunroof No No Yes
Steering Wheel Multimedia-Control Switches Yes Yes Yes
Adjustable Steering Wheel Yes Yes Yes
ISO Fix Child Seat Anchors Yes Yes Yes

Price

Although the new City finally has basic modern features, it is likely to struggle against its competitors in terms of price. Here are the prices of all the trim levels of the three cars:

  • Honda City
    • 1.2 Manual: Rs. 2,599,000
    • 1.2 CVT: Rs. 2,799,000
    • 1.5 CVT: Rs. 2,899,000
    • 1.5 Aspire Manual: Rs. 3,019,000
    • 1.5 Aspire CVT: Rs. 3,174,000
  • Toyota Yaris
    • 1.3 GLI Manual: Rs. 2,409,000
    • 1.3 GLI CVT: Rs. 2,589,000
    • 1.3 ATIV Manual: Rs. 2,519,000
    • 1.3 ATIV CVT: Rs. 2,669,000
    • 1.5 ATIV X Manual: Rs. 2,719,000
    • 1.5 ATIV X CVT: Rs. 2,899,000
  • Changan Alsvin
    • 1.3 Comfort Manual: Rs. 2,149,000
    • 1.5 Comfort DCT: Rs. 2,399,000
    • 1.5 Lumiere DCT: Rs. 2,589,000

Conclusion

It is time to answer the question of whether ‘new’ really is better.

The answer is twofold. Firstly, new would actually be better if the City that launched in Pakistan was truly ‘new’ to begin with. Countries such as India, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines are enjoying the 7th generation City while Pakistan has been given yet another generation old vehicle for the next five to ten years.

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Secondly, HACL appears to be relying too much on its brand loyalty as it has priced the vehicle much higher than its competitors. It is common knowledge that the majority of Pakistani car buyers are from the mid-tier socio-economic class, for whom the subcompact sedans are intended in the first place. Such buyers are attracted to reasonably priced and ‘good value for money’ products.

While it is obvious that the 6th generation City is definitely not the former, the question of whether it can fulfill the latter criteria remains.

As stated in the launch article, the new City now has an uphill battle ahead of it to prove its worth to a tough crowd of car buyers. Additionally, with two fierce competitors in its way, grabbing a mammoth share in the car market is likely to be a challenge of epic proportions.

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