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A City out of the city


Up the twisties of Tanay aboard the Honda City RS

WHEN WAS the last time you were at Pinto Art Museum, the contemporary and most-visited museum in Antipolo, Rizal featuring the art collection of Filipino neurologist and patron of the arts, Dr. Joven Cuanang?

If it’s been a while, now is a good time to revisit, as they’ve only very recently opened Gallery #7 — an impressively large additional space with lots of new, modern art pieces (paintings, sculptures, art installations — you name it) to add to their collection.

Now is also a pretty convenient season to go, as any possible traffic heading there is significantly reduced, thanks to the dawn of online classes and work-from-home arrangements. Moreover, the museum is large and airy, and is definitely not one of those crowded, high-risk areas. For a sum of P250 as an entrance fee per person, I find that it is a pleasurable and worthwhile experience for any art enthusiast or individual who would like to grow his or her knowledge in the arts.

As the art space is nestled in Antipolo, getting to Pinto Museum involves some long, curvy, uphill driving. It was therefore a brilliant idea for Honda Philippines to mark this as a destination drive to test one of their best-selling products in the country — the practical and super comfortable Honda City.

Now, Honda takes its product review opportunities quite seriously. So, in order to offer a more well-rounded test drive experience for the City, the company designed us a special drive route that had us depart from the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig, drive through C5 into Marikina, and eventually uphill to Antipolo. We didn’t immediately drive straight to the destination though, and instead took a little detour — up the long, winding and hilly roads of Marilaque Highway in Tanay. These were mostly paved but also had small sections of rough road. This enabled us to better experience the performance, drive comfort, and fuel efficiency of the Honda City over a long, three-hour drive. Normally, the journey to Pinto Art Museum from BGC would only take about an hour or even less.

The latest-gen Honda City has always been one of my personal favorites in its market segment. It has always impressed me with its clever spaciousness combined with the ergonomics and drive quality ever present in a Honda. I have always argued that these qualities combined with a good engine had always justified that little extra you’d have to shell out to acquire a Honda. And well, the City is one of the brand’s most practical and affordable products in its lineup.

This time was more special for me though, because I got to drive the Honda City RS. I absolutely know what it feels like to be a college student or young professional who seeks that little extra excitement in a first car. And the Honda City RS is now here to serve this market and bring them some delight.

The sporty 1.5-liter RS CVT variant carries cool, exterior upgrades such as a glossy black front bumper and grille with, of course, the RS emblem displayed. It carries LED headlights and fog lights, and is also already equipped with daytime running lights. Sixteen-inch, specially designed alloy wheels make the RS immediately recognizable; while a glossy black trunk spoiler — also garnished with the RS emblem — decorates its rear.

If you drive a Honda, you can expect with no doubt that you’ll be controlling a well-engineered engine with great responsiveness combined with that extra perk of fuel efficiency. As usual, the RS also carries that classic Eco button you could use, should you wish to be mindful of your fuel consumption or simply concerned about your carbon emissions.

A quality in the RS that stood out for me was its very impressive handling — how it had not much body roll even during fast, downhill corners. Output of 121ps and 145Nm made the uphill climbs and overtaking maneuvers nowhere near a struggle. It was indeed an enjoyable journey driving up and down Tanay — and it actually reminded me how much I had missed the fun of this type of spirited driving since the onset of the pandemic.

As one can expect, the interior of the RS exuded an aura of sportiness — with its seats that combined leather and suede, black and red “racing style” stitching, its sport pedals, and a multi-information display with sporty red illumination.

All variants of the new City are now equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen display that supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and Weblink connectivity. The RS variant flaunts a keyless entry system with a push-button start. Furthermore, the RS is now also capable of a remote engine start, which is the first time this feature is being offered in any Honda City.

For a price tag of P1.058 million, the Honda City 1.5 RS CVT offers a first-time car buyer some extra excitement and more. You can never really go wrong with Honda’s driving dynamics and cabin comfort — and should you wish, you can even go greener (thanks to its i-VTEC engine) while you’re at it.