Honda to revamp 'City' sedan in a bid to revive its fortunes

Honda plans to revamp its City sedan within days of slashing its flagship car's price by up to 66,000 to revive it sagging fortunes in world's fastest growing auto market.
The refreshed car is likely to have top-notch optional features such as sunroof, new multimedia and infotainment additions like Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and a new color combination, an industry executive said.

"The car would carry new colors and design cues like new tail lamps that could get an LED treatment and internal changes in form of some modifications with instrumental panel, new interior trim and a new CD player system," the person said, requesting anonymity.

City, the largest sold Honda model in India, has kept company going in its 13 years of existence. However, in recent months, new entrants such as Volkswagen Vento and the relaunched Hyundai Verna have displaced this decade-old segment leader to a fourth spot in mid-size sedan market.

Honda City sales dropped 43% to 3,370 cars in April-May.

Honda Siel Cars last week cut City prices by up to Rs 66,000 on the back of increasing local content in the car with a team of R&D technicians at its Greater Noida plant.

The face-lifted Honda City will hit the road by the coming festive season. It is expected to have a new set of front and rear bumper, new metal alloys and a slightly a modified grille to improve the aerodynamics.

It will be powered by the same 1.5-litre iVTEC engine and transmission of the current models.

These will be the final changes before the next generation City makes its debut in 2013, when the company is also expected to have a diesel engine to compete directly with SX4, Vento and Verna.

The changes are expected to help the City hold its ground against increasing competition when Ford Fiesta and Skoda Rapid enter the market.

A Honda Siel spokeswoman denied the development. "We do not have any plans to launch the refreshed City as of now. Our current focus is the launch of the Brio (compact car) and we are gearing up for its production and launch," she said.

Component makers and suppliers approached by Honda, however, confirmed working on the changes for the new sedan. "Lights, which play an integral part in the styling and aesthetics of the car, and a new tail lamp with integrated LEDs are sure to be part of the new car that is slated to debut post-festive season," an industry official said.

The buzz in the market is that Honda plans to refurbish its entire platform. Soon after the new refurbished City, the company is expected to drive in the next generation Civic.

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