The Faults in Our Cars: Honda City Aspire

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Remember the last time I carved out an article? Yes, it’s been a while, but I’ll try to make some sense today.

Everyone wanted the next episode, well; here I am today, writing it down for you. The next installment of The Faults In Our Cars Series. It took this long because I had a transfer. I’m not back yet but my respected manager sahib allowed me the liberty to do anything I wanted to with the keyboard, just for today.

RELATED: The Faults in Our Cars: Suzuki Cultus

Coming to the point, the car I’ve chosen to discuss today is the Honda City. The latest version which is offered in 4 variants, all based on the same stiff and uncomfortable suspension, which are made further inconvenient to ride in by being fitted with hard seats. I wonder what is wrong with the automakers. Soft seats are a sin for us to be provided with?

Launched in 2008, the 5th generation Honda City was a completely revamped unit and now had a very sleek, stylish and a modern look. Well, talking about modern, the only locally manufactured car in Pakistan which comes with projector headlamps is the Honda Civic, which too has halogens in it, so, back in 2008 it was modern enough for Pakistan. Placed in the mid-sized sedan category, the City became a popular car among doctors (I don’t know where this thought came from). Initially, the City came in just 2 trims, 1.3l iVtec with an option of 5-manual or 4-automatic. Later, a 1.5l Aspire variant was introduced which came with leather seats (HAHA), multimedia NAV system, 15” alloys and side-mirror integrated turn indicator lights. Moreover, the automatic versions of the City had a new gearbox, a Prosmatec from the earlier and current Civic.

I got an Aspire 1.5 Prosmatec because I wanted a car which looked reasonable, performed well, doesn’t tire me in the friendly traffic of the beautiful Lahore and be economical. I realized just after 2 weeks of owning it that the fuel economy is just a myth here in Pakistan. Legends say the faithful Honda City in Thailand returns up to 20 km/l to their loving owners. It’s partly because of their efficiently engineered engines and partly because they run on a CVT gearbox, which is lighter and far more efficient than the current ‘Prosmatec’ gearbox.

My Aspire has been driven 10k kilometers to date, with more than 20k bad feelings in my heart for it. The so called Multimedia NAV unit remains stuck if a DVD is accidently inserted into it, connecting your cellphone via Bluetooth would take ages, the navigation would surely confuse you if you try to consult it. If you finally go through the mess of connecting your phone, you play the music and the sound quality would literally make your tears fall, and yes, this was just the multimedia/NAV unit which distinguishes your Aspire from a normal City.

The build quality of the car from the inside is also not up to mark. I frequently hear minor rattles from the dash and the rear plastic trims. On the outside, the rubber seals that are fitted on the front screen from the outside have been seen flying vigorously with increasing speed and the technicians at ‘Honda Fort’ Lahore suggested me not to get it repaired as it would involve dismantling the wipers and surrounding assemblies, so I had to paste a bit of clear tape to it to keep the seal from dancing.

I cannot believe I’m writing this about my own car.

Now, the most important part, the suspension. Honda decided give the City such a firm suspension that they brought down the comfort level to that of a Suzuki Mehran. Stiff suspension, made even worse by the wood-hard seating. I wonder what I was thinking while buying the Aspire.

Lastly, coming to the high-end performance of the Aspire. I’ve driven a manual version, it’s pretty much fine but not up to expectations. The engine lacks low end response. Now take that sluggish low-end torque and mate it to a Prosmatec gearbox (which I guess itself weighs more than the car) you get jerky gearshifts, it’ll disappoint your hopes of smoking less powerful manuals from a halt and it would successfully return you 9-10 km/l max in the urban.

Above, I have listed the problems that you can face after spending 1.8 million rupees of your hard earned money. From the baseline to the top-of-the-line variant, these problems can change their nature or intensity. I’m sure you can overcome the fuel consumption blessings if you opt for a manual but I don’t see the point of spending more and getting less than expected..

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  1. Alpha Bravo says

    City is a popular car among doctors.. this statement is very much true

  2. ChondaFTW says

    Not to mention if hail decides to hit your car, you will get polka dot dents all over the hood, roof, side fenders and boot. Happened to my car, will buy Honda again just because Toyotas arent any better but I wish we get imported cars brand new here.

  3. Shahab Nasir says

    Yes it isnt a top class car, the NAV is crap, suspension is hard, definitely a trade off with better handling in a budget car but I wonder what is so funny about the leather interior. It is actually worth every penny spent. And did i read that right the 1.5 manual is sluggish? What more do u want from a car titled “city”. Your expectations are supposed to be relative. call 316i sluggish and that makes sense. The fortuner is annoyingly lazy that too makes perfect sense. A3 is quick but cramped in the back. Yes true. U expect a little too much. Haan dil tau bacha hai!
    But please CVTs are annoying. They dont even qualify as a gearbox

  4. monis says

    Very well said about CVT

  5. monis says

    What option do u have instead! You do have right to write what u think of your car but do it on a neutral basis apperntly i found this article very biased because i have 1 too but manual offcourse but about the prosmatec i would like to add i have civic prosmatec by which i can surely tell that prosmetec is really great technonolgy and i get 10 to 12 depends on situation (AC is always on) over my 18l civic prosmatec so buddy u got some issue with your paddling ! Returning to the topic i would like to autocorrect u CVT is diffrent technonlogy so that is what makes it more fuel efficient but to add something with CVT it really suck when u have to speed up car (based on personal experiance) prosmatec on the other hand dont let me feel diffrence between manual car’s accelration in contrast with prosmatec that could be because of 1.8l engine but still i compared with 1.8 manual! Now coming back to city well mine is 1.3 and i obviously dont have nav (Thank god if it is such a mess i didn’t paid money for that) but about performance and efficiency man u do have to get your car checked up because i get 16km/l one average of 130 km/h on motorway in cities it is reduced to 14 (AC is always on) and yeah on responce i would like to add one thing i got my car at 200 it wasnt as stable but a 1.3l engine at 200km/h is something impressive with fuel efficieny of 7km/l and it took only 3 to 4 minutes to touch 200 due to road conditions on motorway but city always show great power only because its very light weight dash make noise when stuffed with altu faltu ka chota mota saman never got any seal issue! Susspension is hard but that gives more comfort when u cross 120km/h well in cities it could be a problem on roads of lahore here in islamabad i find it normal (well i drove in lahore as well roads arent that bad unless u enter baghban pura or dhobbi ghat / mughal pura / purana lahore) still car is way better than options availible when it comes to performance and efficieny!

  6. Asad Khaliq says

    I like the hard seats of city. They are comfortable enough. And also the 5 speed prosmatec AT and have been owner of one city AT. Both 1.5 & 1.3 auto versions are fuel efficient enough and the transmissions butter smooth. The review is right about suspension and body / panel noises.

  7. WikiFacts says

    This man is totally out of his mind.

  8. Salim Ul Haque says

    I m using city aspire 1.3 automatic from mid march 2015. Previously i used to have city manual and city automatic as well. till the time i drove within Lahore , it gave me around 10.5 km/l. last month i went to Islamabad and returned through GT Road, it gave me above 16km/l. yesterday i went to Gujrat ith mostly AC on, it gave me over 17km/h. Honda people say that once it is driven over 5000 km it will go beyond 18-19km/l. whatelse u require from an automatic 1.3. even Mehran doesnot match its fuel economy. Its arch rival Toyota even fails to touch 12.5 km/l on highway.

    regarding hard suspension, this needs to be improved, either by bolting imported tyres or soft seats etc. Regarding navigation, if you have basic know how to handle such featured filled system you can enjoy it to its maximum. till date i have tried and used its every feature narrated on its manual. Too me performance and quality of this system is flawless.

  9. sajid ali says

    well said

  10. Haseeb Ehsan says

    don’t be rude 🙂 not all minds r alike 😉

  11. DS says

    “connecting your cellphone via Bluetooth would take ages”

    Dafuq are you on about? my note 4 doesn’t take more than a couple seconds

  12. Obaid says

    Pretty Biased.
    The Multimedia unit is much better than other locally assembled ones. Specially compare its sound with other on stock speakers.

    Bluetooth connects in less than 3 seconds. Navigation is pretty accurate and easy to use. Yes it is not as good as newer Android systems.

    Seats + suspension is hard but that’s why its fun to drive. But it is actually harder than what it should be coz its meant for City drive.

    Power is superb..

  13. Usman Haider Sheikh says

    cvt is better than prosematic in every way except durability but honda’s prosmatics aren’t durable either, accords have serious auto transmission failure issues, just to change the transmission oil filter u have to rip the transmission apart(which would be fine in countries where the transmission fluid is supposed to last almost the life of the car, the car to be replaced after 3 years and mechanics are good enough to put it back together correctly). prosmatic feels faster because it jerks between every gear shift while cvt doesn’t let u feel the difference. heck they banned cvt from f1 because it’d make cars too fast. saying cvt is faster than prosematic is like saying cg125 is faster than inazuma because it has more vibration on full throttle. and in my personal experience i found auto city to be inefficient, sluggish and uncomfortable. the quality of all plastic, mechanical components was fine but i found the sheet the car’s made with too light. being light should be and advantage but i’ve heard that its toughness isn’t good enough, also the rear frame of the car isn’t designed well enough, some structural elements behind the rear bumper supposed to keep the chassis straight are missing so it isn’t possible to repair to acceptable condition if rear ended.

  14. Habib says

    Things is World over Honda city are being equipped with CVT , while we downgraded our gear technology to Prosmatec, just becoz CVT doesnt go along well with CNG. if you guys getting better average on ur city prosmatec then you would get even better avg then ur current average if ur city was CVT equipped!

    Stopped being ignorant and defend prosmatec gear it out-dated gear shifting technology…

  15. Max Central says

    Mr Fahad please install 195/65/R15 tyres of soft rubber. I am using Michelin. Good Year and Continental are the best in the world. Then see the difference in drive. Actually this car was meant to be driven with 195 size tyres but companies are focusing more on fuel consumption here rather than comfort because of ppl psyche. Mileage only drop by 0.5 to 1 km max per litre, not more than that. Plus it will reduce the noise, improve car performance on high speed especially turning and add comfort.

  16. WikiFacts says

    Yeah. I agree. I am sorry.

  17. Umar says

    Very True about rubber seals flying in high Speed. Happened quite a lot of time on Motorway.
    Very true about rattling which is very common in City. It started squeaking just after 7,000 km
    Very True about sound Quality, its annoying with default speakers if u r a music freak.
    Seats are not that uncomfortable but suspension is really hard.

    cant comment on sluggishness of Auto as i have manual which is quite responsive
    Dont know about nav as i dont own aspire variant

  18. Sam Khan says

    Lol, thats how people talk about Pakistan Manufactured cars, and I own a 1996 Model Honda CIVIC Ferio with Multimatic CVT, an awesome car (those who have ever driven a Civic Ferio Multimatic).
    The sad part is, Japan has been giving CVT even before 1996 for sedans (Civic is not classified as any extraordinary sedan) yet Pakistani Civics do not possess it. WTH? And we are still buying Pakistani cars.
    My money hasn’t grown on trees so I avoid Pakistani cars, no matter if its an older model but not atleast Pakistani.
    Sadqe jaun, mera sohnra Pakistan!

  19. Sam Khan says

    Plus, it is far more economical than any other Pakistan car. Yeah, 14-15Km/L in urban while at least 18Km/L on highways regardless of the way/speed you drive it. This is Civic Ferio vi-RS (the famous EK3 Engine)

  20. Shahid Mehmood says

    u r using some supernatural petrol . author is right about the fuel economy

  21. Shahid Mehmood says

    i have mostly seen doctors with Cultus in small cars and Corolla GLi on sedans, i have seen Honda City with bankers rather docs

  22. Shahab Nasir says

    Oh dear. People on this forum are now quoting CVT as a much superior, state of the art technology. In other words all the Germans are a let down. :/ ever wondered why US accord is deprived of CVT. Its a superior honda, right? CVT = boring, cheap, may be more economical. Please stop trying to sell it to motor enthusiasts

  23. Abbas says

    195/60/15 is the closest match else the diameter of the new vs stock tyres very too much and is not recommended

  24. Salim Ul Haque says

    please recheck your mileage after filling car’s tank from some good petrol station. if it doesnot work, take some time and have checked your vehicle from Honda people,

  25. Fahad Mehmood says

    You’d be out of your mind too after spending 2.0 Million Rupees on a car that has been awarded the ‘Most Economical Car’ and it would return you dreadful mileage.

  26. Fahad Mehmood says

    “sluggish low-end torque” is the terminology I have used in the article. Please try to understand everything before you make any comment.

  27. Fahad Mehmood says

    Sir, I respect your view but the reason I don’t like the multimedia/NAV of the City is not just the issues I have mentioned. The radio would come up uselessly, it gets stuck on DVD option, choosing song foldes from an MP3 is not possible, you have to manually skip through every song. The GPS would lose its signals without any obvious reason.This would’ve been pretty normal if the unit was stock, but you pay an extra 65k for the multimedia/NAV unit, in that 65k, you can get an outstanding SQ setup for your vehicle.

    I have driven a 1.3 MT for quite a while, I’m impressed by its fuel economy but the 1.5 PT is a failure.

  28. Fahad Mehmood says

    A suggestion, please remove all the useless stickers and keep it as much stock as possible. I’m a pretty big fan of the EK, what you have there is a GEM.

  29. Fahad Mehmood says

    You cannot ask for a DCT or a steptronic here in Pakistan, so the most viable tranny you can ask for here is the CVT.

  30. soooper says

    It seems this man is die hard fan of Mehran that too he runs on rental n doesn’t have any kind of know how about upper cars.
    Suni sunai batein.

  31. Haseeb zeb says

    my honda fit aria gives me 20.5 km/l as shown… it is thailand imported.

  32. Haseeb zeb says

    and it is CVT..

  33. Fahad Mehmood says


  34. Fahad says

    Me also got 10 km/l in traffic sometimes even less than 10

  35. Ali says

    a very sasta article. your manager sb should have not given you liberty.

  36. Muhammad Ali says

    sir City is no match to Corolla in terms of Luxury or Economy….

    I own a Corolla — the baseline version and till last week i was considering switching over to a city due to high theft rate of a corolla, but fortunately enough of my colleagues purchased a city aspire 1.5 manual and offered me to take a test drive….

    Believe me my remarks after a 5 minutes drive on the constitution avenue Islamabad were

    “اب سمجھ آیٰ کے سٹی کو شور بھی نھیں اٹھاتے”
    “now i understand why even thieves don’t steal a city, because its scrap!”

    Corolla is far more superior in terms of softness, drive, size, space and looks

  37. Muhammad Ali says

    sir City is no match to Corolla in terms of Luxury or Economy….

    own a Corolla — the baseline version and till last week i was
    considering switching over to a city due to high theft rate of a
    corolla, but fortunately enough, one of my colleagues purchased a city aspire
    1.5 manual and offered me to take a test drive….

    Believe me my remarks after a 5 minutes drive on the constitution avenue Islamabad were

    “اب سمجھ آیٰ کے سٹی کو چور بھی نھیں اٹھاتے”

    “now i understand why even thieves don’t steal a city, because its scrap!”

    Corolla is far more superior in terms of softness, drive, size, space and looks

  38. Khurram says

    My cousin owns a Corolla Xli and he says that it’s mileage is around 14 kmph in city, though admittedly he goes to Layari from Garden. While on highways it gives him around 18 kmph, if driven at 100 km/hr.

  39. WikiFacts says

    Comparing to which car? Don’t think like that. The price is 2 million in our country where there is no value of Rupee in the world. Also mileage cannot be achieved in abrupt traffic system of Pakistan where you stuck in traffic jams or where there is a traffic signal after every other mile. I drive 1.3 iVtec and it gives me minimum 12.5km/l in city and 16km/l on motorway which is not bad.

  40. Zulfiqar Ali Soomro says

    looking at the comments of the people in this section, sadly I have to say that these people deserve this crap that is assembled in Pakistan. Absolutely no fucking idea about what a good car is like for that kind of money. This is the reason why other manufacturers don’t enter the Pakistani market because they know people here are so dumb that they don’t appreciate any car outside Corolla/City/Cultus and because of the monopoly of the three ‘giants’ in Pak, the taxes are so high that one can not import a good car with better features for the same amount without thinking multiple times!
    Nice job with the article, Honda City is crap. I made the mistake of driving it once for a whole day almost and there was not a part of my body that didn’t ache.
    Ab Corolla ki baari?

  41. Muhammad Ismaeel Irfan says

    i am having honda city since 2013 diven 14k yet to date
    i never faced such problems mentioned above
    but i have to admit that suspension is not that good for bumpy roads
    otherwise its a power pack with smooth and confortable drive
    i also drive corolla 2015 and 2012
    city is smoother than both and have more power
    i never heard any rattles in car even on bumpy roads
    for the sound system i have installed customized high end system so dont know about navigation bullshit
    i am using sygic navigation on my iphone for free which works even better than any other navigation avialble in our cars
    i guess the ower of the above aspire just baught the faulty piece

  42. Fahad Mehmood says

    Soon. 🙂

  43. Ali Abbas says

    Dear sir, I do not understand why all the people are giving suggestions on installing after market tyres/seats/navigation when the Honda is already charging huge amount for all this stuff. Let just accept the fact that Honda needs to deliver better navigation/suspension/tyres/seats etc only for the reason that they are charging us. Iff we have to alter/change all these things then why should we even go for such a car with high price?

  44. Ali Abbas says

    I agree with the fact you are trying to emphasize on but the fact of the matter is that the manual version is efficient but the prosmatec is pathetic because of frequent jerks in gear shifting and high fuel consumption. Mileage has directly to with with maintenance and driving style, traffic etc but given what is needed the Prosmatec is poor and outdated technology.

  45. shariq ali says

    tou sale kr do na bhai!!! is the most fuel efficient pakistan assembled car and people loved this car and is one of the first car to compete with corolla (civic is behind)!! i havn’t faces such problems that u mention above and suspension is not so bad like u said “mehran walay suspension” !!!

  46. Rana says

    I have bought this car about two to three months ago & driven 5K till now and I am completely agree
    with you, specially about your suspension comment, I was on journey to Punjab with my elder bro (which was come from UK and used to drive Volkswagen Passat car) and every uneven road this car give us pain and literally he was saying abuse on Honda Co. that what they installed in CITY???….

    p.s.I’m talking about our Great Superhighway, not interior areas.

  47. Waqas Bukhari says

    I bought its base model the manual one 4 months back and all the time I used to think that all these problems u have mentioned are in this basic model but now I realize I am not alone aspire users r also in my league 🙂 but all tthes things said r 100% true and it was my first experience with city and its complete disappointment

  48. Omer Siraj says

    So its easier to blame the car without mentioning how it was maintained it and where it was driven.

    City is meant for on road use and its suspension is just right, firm, without body roll and handles so much better than many cars on the road and certainly better than any of the corollas, even the latest.

    By the way Honda City was launched on Jan 31 2009 not 2008.

    It is certainly is the most fuel efficient locally assembled car. Owned one for quite long, don’t hear no rattles anywhere. Have custom audio n enjoy its drive, firm responsive handling, and grt ivtech engine. Kicks in at around 3400 rpms.

    Pls sell the city n buy the Tota Rolla.

  49. Muhammad Saqib says

    lol you took it so personally

  50. Salman says

    god damn right.. some one talking sense…

  51. Fahad says

    Hi I am fahad
    I have city aspire 1.5 auto 2014
    Nice torque
    Front suspension is like mehran
    Nice looks can say beautiful
    18 lacs not a single air bag in 2003 platz got 2 air bags in 6 lacs
    Leather seats very hard like cheap local crap
    Interior designed beautifully nice
    Maximum mileage in city is 8-9 km
    14/15 it’s a lie
    Navigation is crap…. It’s a very long hard way to find a place just blue tooth function is good
    Sound quality is cheap
    Over all I can say in one year I am thinking to sell my city and buy any Japanese car

  52. faheem says

    hell of a bad suspension

  53. Raza says

    I would agree with my learned friends, Its true, the fuel economy of Honda City IVTEC Prosmatic no mater whether its a 1.3 or 1.5 variant is pathetic. I own a prosmatic 1.3 for the past three years and in Karachi city traffic it has hardly given me more than 9-9.5 kmpl. Although the drive pleasure is good with the prosmatic but its fuel economy is simply pathetic. I guess calling it the most fuel efficient car would have been for the manual version. Certainly not for the Prosmatic tranny.

  54. Atif Hussain says

    Totally carp article. The only issue in Honda city is its stiff suspension on bumpy roads that can easily be solved by installing Yokohama Advn Db tyres. I own both Toyota Corolla as well as Honda City MT since 2010. Honda City it is giving 16 to 17 (Sometimes 18) km/liter on local and 23.5 km/l on high ways. With AC it gives 13 to 14 on local, and 17 km/l on Motor way.

  55. Atif Hussain says

    Agreed. It depends upon the driving style…..

  56. mansoor says

    i have option to buy CITY 1.5 manual standard or auto… what should i go with…?

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