The subcompact sedan segment of the Pakistani automobile market has long been something of a problem child. The Honda City is perhaps the longest mainstay of this particular segment while others have come and gone sporadically.
For as long as the Corolla XLI and GLI were in the market, they remained the first choices of purchase for most buyers, owing particularly to their reliability and amazing resale value. Since their departure, the segment once again seems to be missing a ‘good value for money’ proposition. The Honda City is a decade-old, bare-bones car with only a few upgrades that can be bought from an aftermarket accessories shop, while the Yaris, albeit fresh, is arguably too expensive for a subcompact sedan.
However, with the recent entry of a third contender in the segment – the Changan Alsvin – the subcompact sedan segment could have a significant paradigm shift.
The Alsvin was launched on 11 December 2020 to somewhat appreciative potential car buyers because of its design and features. This positive response was sustained when Changan revealed the prices of all of the Alsvin variants (to be discussed later in the article).
Here’s a look at how all three of these cars compare with each other:
The fifth-generation Honda City is relatively famous mostly because it has been in Pakistan for over ten years. Despite its outdated looks today, it had been one of the better-looking cars when it had been debuted for the first time in Pakistan.
Back when every automaker had been opting for a smooth and rounded-off design, the City had razor-sharp lines, an aggressive front facia, and Honda’s trademark hunkered-down stance that made it look sporty with a sleek profile.
While the front of the car looks sharp and aggressive, its rear is tame in comparison. This is not to say that the rear end is ugly. In fact, the similar sharp lines at the back, the slightly controversial pentagonal taillights, and a unique rear bumper design complement the overall silhouette of the car and add to its understated beauty.
The Toyota Yaris debuted in Pakistan last year to a mixed reception from the public, mostly due to its controversial design.
At the front, the Yaris has a rounded-off look that clashes slightly with the sharp highlight design that covers a rather large portion of the front. The tiny grille between the headlights, the huge bumper grille below, and the unconventional height of the hood make the front look slightly asymmetrical.
The same characteristics can be observed on the side as the bulky side profile and small tyre size also seem to be in conflict with each other.
The rear of the car seems to have been designed by a different person altogether. Interestingly, the slightly longer and straightened-out tail of the vehicle along with the elongated taillights and the smooth lines makes the back look like a baby Corolla.
Additionally, the short and noisy front facia versus a smooth and rather subdued rear makes the overall design of the Yaris look slightly disproportionate.
As the saying goes, ‘newer is better’, the Alsvin sedan also draws advantages from the fact that it looks different from the rest of the latest cars in the local compact sedan segment.
The Alsvin is a decent-looking car with an aggressive and stylish front fascia. It also has a large and imposing front grille, a sharp pair of headlights, cutting-edge LED DRLs, and a smooth front design.
The side profile resembles that of any other compact family sedan with a few sharp lines, an average-looking set of 15-inch alloy wheels, and body-colored door handles that give the car a cleaner look.
While the Alsvin’s theme of simplicity continues at the rear, the design of the taillights, bumper, and reflectors makes the back resemble that of the fifth-generation Hyundai Accent.
Overall, the Alsvin is a good-looking family sedan, especially in the metallic blue tone that is shown in the photos.
The Honda City being sold in Pakistan has a reasonably well-laid-out interior regardless of the fact that it is two generations old. Although its dashboard has a clean look, the quality leaves a little to be desired as it is made almost completely out of hard plastics.
The seats are lined with soft cotton fabric and the front ones provide for good posture and ample space. The rear seats also have a decent amount of legroom and headroom, although a person over 6 feet tall might struggle in the back during a long journey.
Additionally, the boot space is 506 liters, which is enough to carry two large suitcases or three small suitcases.
The interior of the Yaris somewhat resembles that of the City. Although it is clean and nicely laid out, it is also composed of scratchy plastics. The silver trim-pieces around the vents and the center control stack, and on the steering help the interior appear slightly more stylish.
The seats are also lined with soft cotton fabric but their sitting position is slightly higher than that of the City. The cabin is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate either a young family of five (two adults and three children), or four adults, but people over six feet tall are likely to struggle in the backseat.
The boot space is 476 liters (smaller than that of the Honda City) and can easily fit a full-size and a medium-size suitcase.
The Alsvin has taken a modest approach once again in terms of the interior look. Although the design is not too cutting edge, it is on the better side of simple interiors with a modern cockpit and a cheerful ivory-beige interior that complements the black dashboard and door panels.
It also has a sporty-looking, flat-bottomed, steering wheel with control switches, a 7-inch touch-sensitive infotainment screen, dual airbags, leather seats, and numerous other features that will also be discussed.
In terms of room, based on the reviews of the car in the international market and considering that it is a subcompact sedan, the Alsvin can comfortably seat either a family of five or four adults. However, like its competitors, people taller than 6 feet may struggle in the backseat during long rides.
Weight and Dimensions
Here is what is known about the proportions of all three cars:
|Measurements||Honda City||Toyota Yaris||Changan Alsvin|
|Wheel Base||2,550 mm||2,250 mm||2,610 mm|
|Overall Width||1,695 mm||1,730 mm||1,745 mm|
|Overall Length||4,395 mm||4,425 mm||4,390 mm|
|Overall Height||1,480 mm||1,475 mm||1,468 mm|
|Kerb Weight (Top Trim Level)||1,155 kg||1,100 kg||1,240 kg|
The current generation of the Honda City in Pakistan has two engine options. One is a 1.3 litre, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 100 hp and 128 Nm of torque. The second one is a 1.5 litre, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 120 hp and 145 Nm of torque. Both engines can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission, depending on the variant.
The car’s suspension setup consists of a MacPherson Strut in the front and a Torsion Bar Coil-Spring suspension at the back. The car is also has ventilated disc brakes with an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) technology in the front and conventional drum-brakes in the back. However, many owners have reported that the vehicle has a ride that is a bit too firm.
The 1.3 variants are known to provide a fuel average of 13 to 16 km/litre while the 1.5 variants return about 10 to 14 km/litre.
The Yaris also comes with two engine options – the base 1.3 litre, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 98 hp, and 123 Nm of torque, and a bigger 1.5 litre, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes a non-remarkable 106 hp, and 14o Nm of torque. depending on the variant. Both engines can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed CVT automatic transmission
The car’s suspension setup consists of MacPherson Struts in the front and a Torsion Bar Coil-Spring suspension at the back. The car is also has ventilated disc brakes with an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) technology in the front and conventional drum-brakes in the back.
Although Toyota claims that both the powertrains return a fuel average of 14 to 16 kilometres to the litre, the actual figures may differ.
The Alsvin is also available with two powertrain options. The base trim has a 1.37-litre, 4-cylinder Blue Core engine with Dual-Variable Valve Timing Technology (DVVT ) that delivers 95 hp and 135 Nm of torque, and is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The mid and the top trim levels both have a 1.5 litre, 4-cylinder Blue Core engine with DVVT that makes a weak 105 hp, but a good 145 Nm of torque, and is mated to a 5-speed DCT automatic gearbox each.
For the suspension setup, the Alsvin has MacPherson Struts in the front and a torsion bar coil-spring setup at the back. The car also has ventilated disc brakes in the front with ABS Technology and conventional drum brakes at the back.
Although there are no local figures for the fuel economy available yet, the data from the international market suggests that the vehicle provides a fuel average upwards of 13.7 km/litre.
Specs and Features
This comparison is between top variants only to determine the complete range of features that they offer. The following are the specs and features of all three cars:
|Specs and Features||Honda City 1.5 Aspire A/T||Toyota Yaris 1.5 ATIV X CVT||Changan Alsvin 1.5 Lumiere|
|Central Power Door Locks||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Immobilizer System and Burglar Alarm||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No||No||Yes (rear only)|
|Daytime Running Lights||No||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced Gauge Cluster with a Digital Screen||No||Yes||Yes|
|12 Volt Socket||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Outside Rear View Mirror Electric Folding||No||No||Yes + Heated|
|Keyless Entry and Push Start||Key Entry only||Yes||Yes|
|Steering Wheel Multimedia-Control Switches||No||Yes||Yes|
|Adjustable Steering Wheel||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ISO Fix Child Seat Anchors||No||Yes||Yes|
This is where the new player in the market cements itself as a credible threat to the competition. Following are the prices of all the trim-levels of the three cars:
- Honda City
- 1.3 i-VTEC M/T: PKR 2,449,000
- 1.5 i-VTEC M/T: PKR 2,529,000
- 1.3 i-VTEC Prosmatec: PKR 2,639,000
- 1.5 i-VTEC Prosmatec: PKR 2,699,000
- 1.5 Aspire M/T: PKR 2,699,000
- 1.5 Aspire Prosmatec: PKR 2,859,000
- Toyota Yaris
- 1.3 GLI M/T: PKR 2,509,000
- 1.3 GLI CVT: PKR 2,689,000
- 1.3 ATIV M/T: PKR 2,619,000
- 1.3 ATIV CVT: PKR 2,769,000
- 1.5 ATIV X M/T: PKR 2,829,000
- 1.5 ATIV X CVT: PKR 2,999,000
- Changan Alsvin
- 1.37 Comfort M/T: PKR 2,199,000
- 1.5 Comfort DCT: PKR 2,399,000
- 1.5 Lumiere DCT: PKR 2,549,000
As can be seen from the details above, the City loses a lot of points for not having many modern convenience and safety features, while the Yaris loses points for having a controversial design and for being the most expensive option in the segment.
This implies that, on paper, the Alsvin is currently the best ‘value for money’ car in the local subcompact sedan segment. However, its actual worth will be determined by the ownership experience of the buyers.
The experience entails the Alsvin’s ride quality, reliability, maintainability, and resale value in a market that is dominated by Japanese automakers. Whether these factors will be enough for it to stack up to the veterans remains to be seen.