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A coming of age ‘luxury’ car

Honda City was the car that launched a company in India. In the process, it became almost synonymous with the company that makes it.

autos Updated: Jun 02, 2010 22:17 IST
Sumant Banerji

Honda City was the car that launched a company in India. In the process, it became almost synonymous with the company that makes it.

It is only the second car in India to be identified so closely with its maker – Maruti 800 is the other.

The City, as it is commonly called, tops the HT-MaRS Satisfaction Survey.

But its USP could be one that surveys don’t capture — in a society like ours, the car symbolises one’s coming of age.

“I was looking for a car that made me feel good. It was a luxury car without quite being one (it’s a mid-size car – one notch below the Civic). It gives fantastic fuel efficiency, is very comfortable, and gives me an image without bankrupting me,” says Shweta Bhadekar, former deputy country head, IAVI, and consultant, WHO.

That could be the secret behind its longevity and continued popularity. It has been on the roads for more than a decade now and it has been subject to two model changes already, but the country’s fascination with the car refuses to ebb.

“The City is a tried and trusted car across the world and has a huge brand equity in India,” says Shikhar Malhotra, owner of the Ace Honda, a large Honda car dealership and service centre in Noida.

“The car has been the face of affordable luxury in the country for more than a decade and it is an indication that the owner has arrived,” he adds.

There are many factors behind City’s success. The Honda brand ensures top of the line quality, something that has neither been compromised nor bettered by the competition. The company made radical design changes to the car every five years even when the existing car was doing well and each time, the numbers have only gone up.

“I upgraded to the City from a Swift and initially, I was inclined to go for a second-hand one because even a second-hand City is worth the money,” said Rahul Jain, a chartered accountant who bought a new City last year. “But when I heard about the new City, I waited and bought it.”

At a price of more than Rs 8 lakh, the car does not come cheap but many people in middle management positions consider it affordable.

What’s great about the car: Just about everything.

What’s not: A tad expensive, lack of top of the line features