The 5th gen Honda City was launched back on the 31st of January 2009, and today it has completed 12 years in our country and has stepped into its 13th year of production– the longest for any locally assembled Honda model.
Keeping up to its heritage, this generation of City was launched hardly 4 months after it made its debut in Thailand. Before that every generation of Honda City since January 1997 was introduced almost parallel to other countries, in fact till 2009 Pakistan was one of the first markets to receive a new Honda model or facelift ever since Honda Atlas began its operations in Pakistan in 1994.
From 1997 to 2009, Honda City in Pakistan received major upgrades either in form of new model or facelift every 3 years. The first City SX8 was introduced in January 1997 and received a thorough facelift exactly after 3 years in January 2000. Then again after three years Honda launched the 4th gen City (iDSI) in August 2003, which received its facelift again after 3 years in 2006. And three years later maintaining the concurrence, the 5th gen City was introduced in January 2009.
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One of the main reasons for Honda Atlas to drag this model of City is the absence of competition. Honda City has been in competition with a Suzuki rival ever since it was first introduced in 1997, however the 5th gen Honda City never saw a real competitor. As Suzuki Liana was out of the race by 2010, the City remained the only choice in the entry level sedan segment. It’s obvious that since there was no competition in the segment, Honda was never interested in updating to a newer 6th generation City (which was introduced in 2014 elsewhere & replaced by 7th gen City in November 2019) and is happy to continue selling the current model, which has now entered its 13th year of production in Pakistan.
Honda Pakistan is being heavily criticized for dragging this model for ages, that too with outrageous price revisions without any significant improvement whatsoever. The public annoyance has been evident on social media where the City– once known as a quality sedan has now become a meme template. You can see endless posts making mockery of its age, lack of features and futile add-ons such as the infamous ‘shark fin antenna’.
The flagship Honda City Aspire in Pakistan
Today the City remains one of the most under-equipped cars in Pakistan that doesn’t even come equipped with a single airbag, plus there is no climate control, no multi-function steering, no sunroof, no parking sensors, no bonnet insulation & no trunk insulation even in the top-spec Aspire version that cost PKR 2.9 million.
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After the introduction of Toyota Yaris sales of Honda City are being dented quite badly. Yaris alone sells more than the combined number of City & Civic in Pakistan, not to mention Honda since 2014 is shy enough to disclose individual sales of City and Civic due to depressing sales. And things are fast slipping from the hands of Honda Atlas with the arrival of Changan Alsvin as well as more upcoming options including the Proton Saga and BAIC D20 sedans.
There are unconfirmed reports regarding the replacement of the 5th gen City in Pakistan this year, but whether it’s going to be the latest 7th gen model that debuted in Thailand in late 2019 is yet to be seen. According to unofficial sources Honda is also considering the introduction of 6th gen City which is technically not that far away from the 5th gen model we have here, and the company might also deploy the same set of engines in the replacement model. However since Honda is already selling an obsolete car in such a high price, it will be very difficult for them to introduce a new & better equipped model in the same price bracket, even if it’s the globally discontinued 6th gen model.
City was known as Honda’s prime way to earn bread & butter in Pakistan but with Civic sales taking a hit from recently introduced lot of quality crossover SUVs, BR-V yet to exceed the average of 300 units a month & Yaris already killing the City in numbers, things doesn’t seem to be going too well for Honda Atlas.
And with the presence of newcomers like Changan Alsvin & upcoming Proton Saga and BAIC D20 sedans together with already established Toyota Yaris, the Honda City seems to going out of the race unless serious measures are taken by the company with a new & better equipped model against a competitive price tag coming to the rescue.