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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FULL REVIEW: 1997 Honda City 1.5EXI-S(A)

FULL REVIEW: 1997 Honda City 1.5EXI-S(A)

In this blog entry, I'm covering 1997 to 2002 Honda City 1.5EXI-S(A).  The City is 1st on sale in Malaysia in 1996 with a 1.3EXI engine.  9 months later, 1.5EXI-S Manual and Auto were introduced along with a price hike of between RM5,000 to RM7,000.

Here are the used prices of Honda City 1.5EXI-S (Researched by Me):

Price (RM):   18k........20k........23k.......26k (28k)........30k (33k).......34k (37k)

NOTE: 1) (VTI - VTEC LEV) in Bracket, 2) 2000 onwards were face lifted
and known as City TYPE-Z.  See pictures below:

As usual, I don't have a car to test and brag about it.  ALL is NOT LOST...  I dished out a WELL WRITTEN review taken from Highway Malaysia December 1997 issue by Uncle Leeps Lee.  IN ADDITION, I also dished out 3 owner's review from Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka respectively.  ENJOY!



By Leeps

It has been less than a year since the Honda City was launched before a bigger engine model was introduced. This is the City 1.5 EXi-S or 150 'C-Class'. However, there appears to be no let-up in demand as 2,000 Citys 1.5 were sold since its quiet entry in July.

Apparently, the 1.5-litre model was slated to join the City line-up even before this Honda was launched in Thailand. The decision to include the 1.5-litre model was obviously spurred by the then-imminent arrival of the Soluna, Toyota's 1.5-litre 'Asian Family Car'.

As for Malaysia, local Honda distributor Kah Motor Co Sdn Bhd has opted to promote the City 1.5 instead of the 1.3, much to the dismay of some. With a smaller displacement engine, the City 1.3 was affordable to many who wanted a Honda. With the City 1.5, the price was increased by about RM5,000 which led to some cancellation of orders. At prices varying between about RM69,600 and RM72,500 for a standard model with manual/automatic transmission and solid/metallic paintwork, the City still remains a more affordable option to the Civic.

Unlike before, the City 1.5 is a completely different model from the Civic, which is now solely a 1.6-litre model. The closeness in engine displacement is no longer a matter of personal preferences and budgets for a car within the same model range. It has become a matter of looks and tastes.


The engine powering the City 1.5 is still from the Civic line. Compared to the 1.3, the stroke is longer at 84.5 mm (76 mm) while the bore is a constant 75 mm. This has resulted in an undersquare configuration which means better pulling power. The compression ratio is higher at 9.4 (9.0) and there is now 77 kW (105 bhp) at 6500 rpm (69.8 kW/95 bhp at 6400 rpm). Torque is 134 Nm at 4600 rpm (115 Nm/4700 rpm). The City 1.5 is only heavier by 8 kgs and thus enjoys a better weight-to-power ratio of 12.8 kgs/kW (13.9 kgs/kW).

There are also some changes in the 4-speed automatic transmission to accommodate the higher power outputs. Second, third and fourth gears are higher in ratios since there is more torque now. In fact, third gear is an overdrive at 0.972.


As one of our staff has a City 1.3, we had the rare chance to gauge the City 1.5 back-to-back. The better torque has definitely provided for a more relaxed driving ambience. There was no need to prompt the accelerator often to get it down to second gear for that spurt of speed or pull to get going quickly.

The City 1.5 has ample torque to sufficiently quick
pick-up for overtaking on the highway and when going up mild inclines. This feature also helped to give the City higher corner speed through winding stretches, encouraged as well by the proven all-independent suspension with a MacPherson strut at each wheel and the 175/75 SR13 Dunlop LeMans J-Cinq tyres.

With less of a need to kick down and get second gear, there was less of a jerky affair while driving. Although some improvements were made with the automatic transmission, it still didn't perform as good as that in the Civic. It is getting there though.

Our acceleration runs confirmed the City 1.5 as a quicker car. It was clocked at 11.5 seconds for the 100 km/h sprints which the City 1.3 did in 13.2 seconds. On kickdowns, the City 1.5 covered the 50-80 km/h runs in 5.6 seconds, a second faster.

Despite the slight differences in transmission ratios, road speed through the gears were similar–58 km/h (60 in the 1.3) in first, 104 km/h in second and 160 km/h in third. The auto changes occurred between 6100 and 6500 rpm. This was also similar at cruising speeds, with the engine running between 2800 and 3100 rpm (2600 and 3000 rpm) at 100-110 km/h.

As is typical of Honda engines, some mileage is required before optimum performance can enjoyed. That in the test City 1.5 was no different, having covered slightly above 1,000 kms when we borrowed it. Thus the top speed we attained may not be indicative of the true potential of the car in this respect. If it is like the City 1.3, it should do above 170 km/h, if not 180 km/h, with more mileage.

The difference in interior appointments aren't much. The extras come in a central console bin and a door armrest for the front doors. All the windows are electrically-powered (only the front ones for the City 1.3).

"Would you buy the City 1.5?" we asked the staffer who owns a City 1.3. The response (which we also tend to agree with) was this: "Now that I've driven it, I do regret not waiting for the 1.5 to come along. The better pull certainly makes for more comfortable and relaxed driving. But with the gloomy economic scenario, I think I will keep my City 1.3!"



Distributor: Kah Motor Co Sdn Bhd

Manufacturer: Oriental Assemblers Sdn Bhd, Johor

Location : Front, transversely mounted
Capacity : 1493 cc
Bore/stroke : 75.0/84.5 mm
Compression ratio : 9.4:1
Cylinders : 4, in-line
Valve arrangement : SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Cylinder head : Light alloy
Cylinder block : Light alloy
Fuel feed : PGM-FI electronic multi-point fuel injection
Petrol : Unleaded only
Max. power (DIN) : 76.5 kW/6500 rpm
: 104 bhp/6500 rpm
Max. torque : 134 Nm/4600 rpm
Weight/power ratio : 12.8 kgs/kW
kW per litre : 51.2 kW
Ignition system : Electronic

Driving wheels : Front
Gearbox : 4-speed automatic with lock-up torque converter
Ratios : 1st - 2.722
: 2nd - 1.500
: 3rd - 0.972
: 4th - 0.738
: Rev - 1.954
Final drive ratio : 3.937

Bodystyle : 3-box, 4-door saloon
Side impact bars : Yes
Front suspension : Independent, MacPherson struts and coil springs, transverse links, stabiliser bar
Rear suspension : Independent, trapezoidal links, MacPherson strut and coil springs
Steering system : Rack and pinion, power-assisted
Wheels : 5Jx13, steel
Tyres : 175/70 SR13
Front brakes : Ventilated discs
Rear brakes : Drums

Overall length : 4225 mm
Overall width : 1690 mm
Overall height : 1395 mm
Wheelbase : 2500 mm
Front track : 1454 mm
Rear track : 1454 mm
Ground clearance : 168 mm
Kerb weight : 978 kgs
Fuel tank capacity : 45 lits
Turning circle : 9.6 m

Top speed : 160 km/h
0-100 km/h : 11.5 secs
50-80 km/h : 5.6 secs
RPM at 100 km/h in top gear: 2800 rpm

N.B. Performance tests were carried out on a testcar supplied by Kah Motor Co Sdn Bhd with 1,000 kms on it. Actual performance may vary depending on mileage clocked, state of engine tune, atmospheric conditions, etc. Dunlop LeMans J-Cinq tyres with optional alloy rims were fitted on the testcar.

WARRANTY & PRICE (as at December 1997)
Warranty : 24 mths/40,000 kms, whichever comes first
Nett selling price : RM46,032.94
Excise duty/sales tax : RM22,617.03
Retail price : RM71,970.57
Insurance : RM2,073.50
Roadtax : RM218.60
Price includes : Air-conditioner, audio system, central locking, anti-theft system, anti-rust, strut bar. For metallic paint, add RM526.35.

N.B. Price shown for private ownership, is applicable to Peninsular Malaysia only. Nett selling price is the government approved price, excluding excise duty and sales tax. Retail price includes roadtax for one year but no insurance coverage. For East Malaysia, the price will be slightly higher due to shipping charges. Insurance premium is based on recommended value of RM71,000 for a year's comprehensive coverage without deduction for any No Claim Discount (NCD) bonus. Ownership claim fee (applicable for H-P financing) of RM50 is included.

END OF SOURCE: Highway Malaysia December 1997 issue by Uncle Leeps Lee..

That's all folks...  Thanks for having the time and patience to read this blog entry.   


  1. Anonymous1:51 AM

    sir, can u help me?
    my honda city
    year 1997 broke down,need to change to new engine..can honda civic zc 1.6 fit it?
    thank u vry much


  3. Sir, can you tell me what is the item call that is under the air cleaner housing because one of the plug in is broken Honda City auto with 7, speed 2003 model