Honda has revised its strategy for India. The Japanese automaker is no longer concentrating on bigger segments and thus the next generation Civic, CR-V and Accord have all been delayed. The company has now turned its attention to the volume segments and will launch more products to cater to a larger audience. Honda’s aggressive plans of bringing in compact SUV and MUVs are already known. The company will launch the Brio sedan in March 2013 and will also bring in a diesel version of its popular City next year.
While the Brio Amaze is an extremely important vehicle for Honda, the diesel City is almost as important. The Honda City has a big history in the Indian market and was launched way back in 1998. For several years, the City remained at the top of the ladder, with no one coming even close to unsettle it as the undisputed leader in the segment. However in 2007, the shift towards diesel cars started to take place and the City was left with a petrol only heart, resulting in decrease in sales. Now Honda is all set to snatch back the numero uno position in the C-segment.
The diesel-powered Honda City will use the same 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine which will power the Brio Amaze, Jazz, Brio hatchback, Brio-based 7-seater MPV and Jazz based compact SUV. This motor might not be the best in terms of NVH levels but produces a healthy 100 BHP of power and 210 Nm of torque. Performance is very good and city driveability is where this Honda diesel engine excels. Mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, the City diesel is expected to be very frugal, returning an ARAI certified mileage of around 20 km/l. The City diesel should be priced at a premium of Rs. 1 lakh over its petrol counterpart.
Honda will manufacture diesel engines in India at its Tapukara facility. This engine will be high on local content, giving Honda a cost advantage. When Toyota can sell the Corolla with a 1.4-litre diesel engine, we don’t understand why Honda can’t sell the Civic with the upcoming 1.5-litre diesel engine. Clearly this one diesel engine has a lot riding on it for Honda’s future in India.