The History of Honda City | Part-1

Read this post to know in detail about the first three generations of the Civic's unsung sibling- City

2y ago

In 1981, Honda launched one of their best city cars which took the concept too seriously and got named ‘City’. It was primarily designed for Japan, Australia and Latin America but after the first generation, it got to see the shores of the Asian developing countries like India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.

First-Generation (AA/VF/FA) [1981-1986):

It was first released in November 1981 with the innovative ‘tall boy’ design which despite its short 3.4 m height, allowed even tall passengers to sit relatively comfortably. Probably the most innovative of all was the small scooter you’d get complimentary with this car which was manufactured while keeping in mind the narrow Japanese urban streets for which the City was originally manufactured. This is literally eminent from the car’s name. It didn’t comply with the Japanese kei car norms and hence was made available with a 1,231 cc turbocharged Honda ER 14 engine. At the time of introduction, it was the smallest car in Honda’s line-up- being longer than the discontinued Honda N360 and shorter than the Honda Civic. It was also available in a cabriolet body-style which utilized a naturally aspirated engine. A high-roof “R Manhattan Roof” version was also introduced with a 10 mm higher roof while the ‘Pro-series’ van with either 2 or 4 seats was introduced. It was exported to Europe with the ‘Jazz’ name while Australia received only the 2 seater van and New Zealand got it locally assembled.

Second-Generation (GA1/GA2) [1986-1994]:

Replacing the previous generation, the GA1 City came sneaking in modern looks and yet another lightweight body weighing only 680 kg for GA1 and 780 kg for the GA2 update, released in 1989. GA1 was sold with the slogan “City of talent” owing to its small size and practicality in congested cities. It was sold in the Honda Clio dealerships- usually used for selling the luxurious offerings like Honda Accord, Honda Concerto and Honda Legend. The engine used here was a carbureted 1.2-litre SOHC straight-four producing 75 bhp and 98 Nm. It was mated to a 5-speed MT or a 4-speed AT. In 1988, a newer engine was introduced while the older ones were also available in other variants. The new engine was an MPFI 1.3-litre inline-4 SOHC producing a respectable 98.6 bhp and 113.8 N⋅m.

Third-Generation (3A2/3A3) [1996-2003]:

Arguably the most beautiful generation of the Honda City, this was the first generation available in a sedan body style. In fact, City has been available in no other body styles since. A lot of my personal feelings may interfere with this generation as it’s one of my dream project cars. The car as stated above was available in two platforms with them being equipped with a 1.3 litre and 1.5 litre engine respectively. Both of them were based upon the Honda Civic EF platform. The 1.3 City was sold with the slogan “Smart for the new generation” while 1.5 was sold as “Top-in-class smart”. Marking Honda’s entrance into India, City was a car that became a status symbol for the upper-middle class families who were rich but not enough to buy Mercedes-Benz’s. City was the dream car of many a child in back in the day! The City, especially since this generation became the car for developing countries. Most of the intended countries have much larger sales of City than Civic and hence, Civic- launched in 2005 was discontinued in 2011 (and relaunched in 2019) but the City still remains the best-seller C-Segment sedan in India! In 2000, City got itself equipped with the VTEC engine for the first time and along with it, it also got facelifted- further improving its fabulous looks. It was equipped with a 1.3 litre VTEC which at its best could produce 95 bhp and the 1.5 litre VTEC producing a higher 128 bhp.

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