The first generation Honda City was a subcompact car manufactured by the Japanese manufacturer Honda from 1981. Originally made for the Japanese, European and Australasian markets, the City was retired in 1994 after the second generation.
The nameplate was revived in 1996 for use on a series of compact four-door sedans aimed primarily at developing markets, first mainly sold in Asia outside of Japan but later also in Latin America and Australia. From 2002 to 2008, the City was also sold as the Honda Fit Aria in Japan. It is a subcompact sedan built on Honda's Global Small Car platform, which it shares with the Fit/Jazz (a five-door hatchback), the Airwave/Partner (a wagon/panel van version of the Fit Aria/City), the Mobilio, and the Mobilio Spike—all of which share the location of the fuel tank under the front seats rather than rear seats. By mid-2009, cumulative sales of the City has exceeded 1.2 million units in 45 countries around the world since the nameplate was revived in 1996.
In 2011, the City is also sold as Honda Ballade in South Africa.
The first Honda City (AA for sedans, VF for vans and FA for the wider Turbo II and Cabriolets) was introduced in November 1981 with the innovative "Tallboy" design; of unusual height it enabled four adults to fit comfortably in the very short City (under 3.4 m or 11.2 ft). Produced as a 3-door hatchback in a variety of trim levels, the City was also available together with the Motocompo, a special 50cc 'foldaway' scooter designed to fit in the City's small luggage area. At the time of its introduction, it was Honda's smallest car, while not being in compliance with Japanese Government kei regulations. It was longer than the Honda N360 by 383 millimetres (15.1 in), but shorter than the Honda Civic first generation by 171 millimetres (6.7 in).
The Honda City Turbo was introduced in September 1982. It was powered by a turbocharged version of the 1231 cc Honda ER engine. A Pininfarina designed drop-top Cabriolet utilized the wider fenders and bigger bumpers of the Turbo II "Bulldog", but was only normally available with the naturally aspirated 67 PS (49 kW) engine. There was also a Pro-series of van versions with either two or four seats. A high-roof "R Manhattan Roof" version with a 10 cm taller roof also appeared.
Exports of the City were primarily to Europe (where it was renamed Honda Jazz, due to Opel having trademarked the City name), Australia (in two-seater 'van' form, to circumvent Australian import restrictions on passenger vehicles at the time) and New Zealand (where it was locally assembled). Production ended in late 1986 with the introduction of the GA type City.