Sedan market in Pakistan is likely to witness a stiff competition thanks to a handful of new options expected to hit the market in near future. This will make it quite difficult for the 11-years old under-equipped 5th gen Honda City to perform well against the rivals.
The newly launched Toyota Yaris is already here to create problems for the aging Honda, whereas the segment is all set to witness new options including Proton Saga, Changan Alsvin, Kia Cerato as well as the Hyundai Elantra. While the Kia Cerato and Hyundai Elantra will be pricier options and may affect the sales of the City Aspire trim up to some extent, it is the Proton Saga, Changan Alsvin as well as the Toyota Yaris that will take good chunk of buyers away from the Honda City.
Honda has enjoyed an uncontested period of time in the segment due to absence of competition ever since the demise of Suzuki Liana, which is one of the main reasons why the company was least bothered to bring about any significant improvement to the 5th gen City sedan during all these years. However now, it won’t be possible for Honda Atlas to battle out with their impotent warhorse.
The 5th gen City is currently among the very few cars in Pakistan that doesn’t even offer a single airbag in its entire lineup. Even if someone opts for the priciest 1.5L City Aspire trim that cost PKR 27.89 lac, he will still drive away one of the most under-equipped vehicles in the market.
Honda Atlas has been frequently increasing the prices of its products despite observing 104 non-production days during the last fiscal year amid market slowdown, while suffering from a deplorable 63% decline in sales in the fiscal year 2019-20. And the situation doesn’t seem to be improving specially in presence of newer Toyota Yaris which offers a lot more than what 5th gen City has to put forward.
The local 5th gen City has been left 2 generations behind the global Honda City model ever since the 7th gen made its debut in Thailand late last year. The new model has recently been introduced in India whereas it’s currently being teased to be introduced in Malaysia, after which the all new Honda City will reach Oceania and other regional & global markets.
Considering the troubling times the company is currently going through, it looks difficult for Honda Atlas to introduce the all new City in Pakistan. However according to unofficial sources, Honda might introduce the out-gone 6th generation City in Pakistan as a replacement of the aging 5th gen model.
The all new Honda City sits on a completely new platform & uses newer engines and (from the company’s point of view) will require significant amount of investment to introduce the new model here. Plus keeping in view the deteriorating sales in recent times, it will be a lesser risk for the company to bring the 6th generation in, instead of the latest 7th generation City. The 6th gen has a similar platform as that of the 5th gen we have here, plus Honda Atlas can deploy the existing set of engines in the 6th gen, which will greatly save them costs, something which can’t be done if the 7th gen is introduced here.
With the 6th gen now getting discontinued from the rest of the world, Honda Atlas will introduce 1 generation old model here while still celebrate it as a ‘new’ model, since after all what most people want is a ‘new shape’ regardless of how ‘old’ it is, even if it has obsolete tech & engines under the skin.
Nobody knows at this stage what’s cooking at Honda Atlas. The City has been a matter of bread & butter for the company but with sales now reduced by 63% they need to make some bold decisions to get their diminishing market share back to where it was supposed to be. However who knows the company might introduce new grille & a new shark fin antenna to the 5th gen City to keep it alive & kicking, after all Honda Atlas believes it’s ‘More than an Icon’ with some ravishing looks.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com