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Tech Talk: A Brief Overview Of How The Honda City Hybrid’s Powertrain Works

The Honda City hybrid will be the first of its kind in the segment with a proper strong hybrid powertrain. We explain its functioning

The Honda City hybrid is the first ‘strong hybrid’ offering in its segment. It pairs a 109PS/253Nm electric motor with a 98PS 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC petrol engine, driving the front wheels. Combined output stands at 126PS/253Nm, around 5PS more than the standard City petrol but way more torquier, more than 100Nm to be specific. Like a typical self-charging hybrid, the City allows you to drive in pure EV mode or a mix of both. 

But what happens when we let the car do its thing, i.e, not fiddling with the drive modes and letting the computer take care of the business. Well, that’s what we are going to talk about today.  

A strong hybrid car primarily drives in pure EV mode most of the time in the city, with the petrol engine assisting it when extra power is required. This principle applies to the Honda City as well. But the Japanese carmaker was more than happy enough to share a few more details (image attached below), which would not only be useful for our viewers, but potential buyers.  

  • Until 40kmph with light throttle, the City drives primarily on electric power, with the petrol engine assisting in only when you need that extra shot of power. So for parking, ambling in town, bumper-to-bumper traffic and other minor applications, the City hybrid gets the job done emissions-free most of the time depending on the battery’s charge level. 
  • Between 40kmph and 80kmph, the electric motor takes care of the job for the majority of the time, with the petrol engine coming into play whenever required. And when you need that sudden boost of power, say to overtake, both the motor and engine work in sync. 
  • It’s the opposite when you are on the highway, cruising between 80kmph and 120kmph. So most of the time, the petrol engine is in action, while the electric motor comes into assistance whenever required for additional boost. It will switch to pure EV mode while coasting or steady cruising.
  • From 120kmph and onwards, both the petrol engine and electric motor will work in full force till you max it out at 176kmph.  

A thing to note here the Jazz hybrid, which uses the same powertrain, gets an e-CVT instead of a conventional automatic transmission. The thing here is that there is no gearbox at all. Rather, a clutch is present between the generator and propulsion motor, which comes into play when the car enters into full hybrid mode. A detailed explanation about its functioning can be seen in this video:

As expected from a hybrid offering, the City gets regenerative braking with four adjustable settings via paddle shifters. So while decelerating or braking, the energy that is recovered while slowing down is restored into the battery pack. Plus, whenever required, the engine also steps in to charge the battery pack. The cycle keeps on repeating again, and that’s how the City hybrid works. 

Advantages? Well, that’s mainly in the ‘Kitna Deti Hai?’ department. The City has a claimed average fuel efficiency of 26.5kmpl, around 6.5kmpl more than the Ciaz automatic, one of the most fuel efficient models in its segment. Also, hybrids generally tend to be more efficient than their claimed numbers in urban conditions as they tend to be in electric mode for most of the time. So you can expect it to deliver closer to 30kmpl in town. And most importantly, the City hybrid emits less emissions as well compared to any car in its segment. 

The new Honda City hybrid will go on sale in May at an expected price of around Rs 18 lakh (ex-showroom). At this price point, the sedan will lock horns with the 1.5-litre TSI variants of the Skoda Slavia and upcoming Volkswagen Virtus.

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