Year 2019 is about to begin and with that the 5th generation Honda City in Pakistan will enter its tenth year of production in the country. Launched back in January 2009 the fifth gen City has the longest production span for any locally assembled Honda model.
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One of the core reasons behind a stretchy period of the 5th gen City is the absence of competition. Ever since the City arrived in our market, it was up against some sort of competition in different times, be it Margalla, Baleno or the Liana. However after 2009, since the Liana was already out of the competition & was selling around just a dozen units a month, hence there was no real threat for the 5th gen Honda City.
Around the world it was replaced with the 6th generation in 2013. This sixth gen City after completing 4 years of its life was updated with a facelift in 2017. The 6th gen City was already a huge improvement over the older 5th gen that we still get here in terms of styling, suspension, ride quality, improved NVH levels, value features, and fuel economy.
However after the introduction of 6th gen facelift, the City has become even better than before. It receives new LED headlamps with bolder LED DRLs, redesigned chrome grille, a new bumper design with 3-part intake and fog lamps, new 16-inch alloy rims and a re-profiled rear bumper. On equipment, the new City gets a new 7-inch touch-screen system with navigation, browser and phone link, sunroof, and six airbags etc.
On the other hand Honda Atlas is busy minting money from their decade old cash cow by introducing cheap cosmetic add-ons ever so often. Once there used to be a time when a Honda City models in Pakistan used to get updated in every 3 years and the improvements were drastic too.
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Take the 3rd gen City SX8 as an example which was launched in 1997 and received a thorough facelift in year 2000. This included revised front end with new headlamps, new bumpers and slightly redesigned hood, whereas it received a different set of tail lights, different bumpers and a redesigned trunk. Furthermore the interior received major improvements including updated door cards and upholstery, updated power window housing, updated dashboard with new instrument cluster and a 4-spoked steering wheel. Not to mention the carburetor engines were replaced with a fuel injected unit.
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Similarly the 4th gen city iDSI that was launched in 2003 received a major facelift in 2006. Again it included new headlamps and redesigned bumpers up front while at the rear it got new tail lights with completely different design treatment. Compared to this, the changes what Honda is busy introducing these days are more akin to that of Suzuki Mehran or Cultus, you just take your 10 year old car to a parts shop, replace the grille and lights which are a bolt-on fit off course– and bingo! You just converted a 10 year old City into the latest model within 15 minutes..
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The 5th gen City has received the most number of updates than any City in Pakistan before. In 2017 alone, Honda introduced 2 facelifts and is perhaps about to introduce another, to keep it ‘fresh’. As per the official Honda Atlas Facebook page, the list of ‘new’ will include a new shark fin antenna, new chrome door handles and new door protection moldings. More importantly, according to Honda, it will create a ‘Lasting Impression’.
As per reports the next generation City might make its debut somewhere towards the end of 2019 and will probably start to reach global markets from 2020 onwards. It obviously doesn’t make any sense for Honda Atlas to launch the 6th gen here at this stage when its already about to get a farewell in international markets. Which means there are still a couple of years more for Honda Atlas to keep changing the shark fin antenna and a few stickers here n there on their 5th gen City.
From the looks of it, the City has no real problems as far as the competition is concerned. And with zero investment Honda can still sell a 10 year old car in volumes. Since there is no other option among entry level sedans for car buyers to opt for, the 5th gen City will continue to be sold in numbers, perhaps as long as people are happy to imprint a lasting impression with a new shark fin antenna!