Honda City was considered a lone champion in the entry level sedan league ever since it stepped into our market back in January 1997. In fact it was the car that redefined the segment by offering an affordable power-packed sedan with superior quality & modern tech to the masses.
For over 2 decades, the Honda City was considered a prime choice in the entry-level sedan market in Pakistan. The City was 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) and is happy to continue selling the current model, which is now about to enter its 13th year of production in Pakistan.
Honda Pakistan was already being heavily criticized for dragging this model for ages, that too with outrageous price revisions without any significant improvement offered. 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.
Since 2010 onwards it was an easy going for Honda City, thanks to the absence of competition. However of late, things have started to become not-so-good for the City sedan in the country. 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’.
Year 2020 saw the introduction of Toyota Yaris in Pakistan which comes as a direct competitor to Honda City. And despite its awkward appearance, the Toyota badge has helped Yaris dominate the sales chart so much that the car quickly started to outsell the combined number of Civic & City while becoming the second bestselling car in Pakistan behind Suzuki Alto.
Since Yaris is something ‘new’ that offers loads of features & equipment compared to the bone-stripped Honda City in a similar amount of money, customers are obviously drifting away from the latter. However the recent launch of Changan Alsvin has created even bigger problems for the aging Honda City in Pakistan. Hailing from China, backed by Master Motors in Pakistan, the Alsvin has become the talk of the town due to its catchy price & rich features on offer.
However things won’t just end here as the segment is set to welcome 2 more contenders– the Proton Saga and BAIC D20 sedans which are expected to be introduced in coming months. As per our information both these sedans will be priced considerably lower than City while offering much more than what Honda offers us.
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.
Furthermore Honda is not having a good time in regional markets. As part of its consolidation plans, the Japanese automaker has pulled the plugs off its production operations in Philippines and Russia, and closed one of its two plants in India already. It will be very interesting to see how they handle the situation in Pakistan where they have been presenting the combined number of two of its very different cars– City & Civic since more than 7 years due to poor sales.
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.
The PKR 2.9 million flagship Honda City Aspire
And with the presence of newcomers like Changan Alsvin & upcoming Proton Saga and BAIC D20 sedans together with already established Toyota Yaris, the 23-year reign of Honda City in the entry-level sedan segment in Pakistan seems to have come to an end.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com