Honda Brio short drive and initial impressions
Honda has been in India from many years now. They are successful in the “C” and “C+” segments by offering cars like the “City” and the “Civic”. They had big plans for the premium hatch segment with the “Jazz”, but somehow that was not much of a success due to the overpricing. As typical Indian thinks, why pay 8+ Lakhs for a hatch, why not a sedan!?
The Jazz is a very good car but somehow was left behind in the hatchback scenario. So in 2011, Honda showcased the Brio concept in Thailand. They promised a Honda for less than 5 Lakhs INR. So comes the Brio in scene. A small cute looking hatch ready to compete its rivals with a Badge which has a big brand value in India. The car is powered by a 1.2 i-Vtec engine producing 88Ps of power and 109Nm of torque. Lets see how the small little hatch is against its competitors. The Brio starts off with an 80% level of localisation, the ECU being one of the major parts that is imported.
Looks & Design-
The Japanese car makers are known for making good looking cars like the Jazz, City, Civic, Accord and so on. The Brio on the other hand has looks, which is very subjective. Many people love the way it looks and some lothe it. The small little car is very off glass areas.
Infact, instead of a bootlid, it gets a glass type opening just like the first generation Maruti Suzuki 800, which looks pretty good. This helped Honda to keep the costs down, but the main drawback of this design is everything that is stored in the boot is visible to everyone.
The car is very small is length and is just of 3610mm. Just to give an idea of the length of the car, we take up the length of one of its rivals, the Maruti Suzuki Ritz which is 3715mm. The car is smallest in its segment but offers good comfort and space.
Coming onto the nose, the car looks very sharp. The grill is wide, and the fog lamps are embedded into them. The grill for instance is very small in size but has thick chrome on it. The Honda badge is also placed in it and looks quite good. The headlamps, are quiet good looking, with use of black material inside them. The hood has creases, which gives a definition to the non-contemporary design.
The side profile of the car is has very sharp character. The design here is almost like the Fluidic design of the Hyundai’s. A sharp line runs through from the front fender to the rear door of the car where it blends into the car. The car features, Spider web type alloy wheels, which look very sporty as well as elegant.
Coming to the rear portion of the car, here is where the real story begins. The looks in this part of the car is very subjective. The Tail-lamps look like the aftermarket units available for Suzuki Swift and many others. The glass lid, carries the Honda badging, as well the Model name and Variant. There are few features that are missing from this car are rear wash-wipe, rear defogger, driver’s seat height adjustment etc. There are 3 different trim levels in this car, E (Base Version),S(Middle version), S with option(Middle version with goodies), and the V(Top end version). The Brio is offered in 6 different colours.
The car is powered by the same 1.2L motor found on its elder sibling the “Jazz”. The 1.2L i-Vtec motor is a typical Honda unit. It very smooth and the power delivery is decent. Just as other Honda units, this also loves to be revved. The peak power is up at 6000Rpm which is very refined unlike the other engines of its class.
The engine has grunt which can be heard as soon as it reached 5000Rpm. The engine lacks torque though. You’ll have to continuously keep working on the gear to move in heavy traffic. The engine just like any other petrol, has to be kept in the vital revv range to get the max out of it. Now comparing it to its competitor, say, the Chevy beat, Brio has already given it a run for its money. The Honda feels much more aggressive and sharp to drive. The response of the throttle is good when it is kept in the powerband. When you crank up the motor, in idle state you’ll hardly hear it running. Example of Honda refinement. The car is silky smooth throughout the revv range and if even revved hard, the passengers will hardly complain about it.
The Pro’s of the car-
1) Honda badging( Honda has one of the brand values in India)
2) Silky Smooth 1.2L iVtec motor
3) Being a small car, has astonishing amount of knee room for both front and back seat
4) Decent Material on any part of the car, doesn’t feel cheap at all
5) Small little hatch very nimble and effortless to drive around in the city
6) Good safety features, SRS airbags and ABS with BA
1) Lack of small little features.
2) Feels very light on the road, very less steering feedback. (It has an electronic unit).
3) Rear hatch not present, instead glass door with a hydraulic lift. (exposes the things kept in the boot).
4) Engine has less torque, will thrive around the ghats with full load.
The car does 0-100kmph- 12.46secs
The car’s pricing has been kept very attractive. Starting from 4.52L to 5.74L, this car seems to be a very VFM car in its segment.
The ARAI tested efficiency of this car is 18.4Kmpl in standard test conditions.
0-100Kmph Timings- 12.46secs
20-80kmph @ 3rd timings- 14.27secs
40-100kmph @ 4th timings- 22.09secs
The expected top speed is about 145kmph.
The car is small in size, but does that mean it has less space inside? Lets find out.
The Brio looks small in size but that not the story ends. The car has acres of room inside. The is no question in Honda engineering and this time again they have proved it. Open the door, and you’ll notice there’s hardly any weight in it as compared to its German competitors.
The dashboard is a combination of beige and Black and in the centre is the used of dark chocolate colour. The Fit and finish of the car is pretty good and everything used feels top notch quality. The door handles are comfortable to hold and the power window switches are joy to use. The only sore part is the place where the metal part of the door can be seen from the inside. Cost cutting??
The air vents of the dash are of high quality and do not feel cheap at any cost which means they are made to last. The Airbags are housed into the dashboard neatly without any fuss that can be seen. The center console is decent looking but the rotary knobs feel little outdated at times. They feel little built to a cost. The Music system on the other hand doesn’t have a CD player which is a very common feature in the other cars, instead Honda has provided USB port which can be connected to the i-Pod’s and other such media players of devices.
The seats are supportive and look fantastic. The quality of the material used on the seats are very good but there’s a limitation to it. The seats are cream coloured, which will be very difficult to maintain. The seats do not have adjustable neck support, they are fixed. Cost cutting again??
Coming to the back seat, you’ll notice there’s no lack of space hear even after the front seat is pushed back. The Front seats are contoured and shaped in such a way that, more space can be carved out from inside.
The gearbox of this car is one of the best gearbox in this segment. It is perfect and slots the correct gear every time without any fuss. The gearshift is slick and gearknob itself has a good feel to it. The golf ball design of the gear knob feels very class as well as modern. The gearing though on this car is a little annoying sometimes. When you want to move in heavy traffic in higher gear, it just resists moving because of the tall gear ratio’s. You’ll have to constantly keep working with gear to move ahead. Though in the highway it’ll not be a problem because the Brio is a good cruiser.
The Suspension and Handling-
The car rides on 175/65/R14 wheels. The car is very light as said before and not meant to chuck it around the corners. Same as any Honda present in India, doesn’t like to go around the corners. It is no Suzuki Swift nor The Fiat Grande Punto. The ride quality of the car is decent and filters all the small bumps and potholes present of the road.
The larger undulations gives it a little problem as the car is light and feels little wobbly on these kind of roads. The low speed ride is decent and people won’t be complaining about it. The high speed ride quality is the one when t show that is it a small car and should be driven carefully with steady hands and pair of eyes.
Overall the car is pretty good commuter and value for money.
Overall Ratings- 7.5/10
- Safety- 8/10
- Build Quality & Strength- 6/10
- Ride Quality- 7/10
- Value- 8/10
- Design- 9/10
- Performance- 7.5/10
- Refinement- 8/10