Honda Brio review, test drive

Honda is the largest producer of small capacity petrol engines in the world. It has dominated many a hard-fought segment in India and everyone from bikers to Accord owners has a deep respect for the brand in India. Sure, Honda has the right stuff to make a successful small car for India, absolutely. But just how good is the new Brio? Can it take on Maruti in India at its own game and win?

What’s evident immediately is that Honda has chosen to give plenty of priority to the front seats of this car and rear seat and boot space have been compromised a bit. This Suzuki Swift-like prioritisation is plainly visible, even from the kerb. What’s also evident is the aggressive, tipped-forward stance of the car and Honda’s very tight and modern skinning. The large fighter aircraft-like fake air intakes under the headlights give the design plenty of aggression, and the Brio has gently flared wheel arches as well. What’s also good is that the low window line gives great all-round visibility from the front seats.

Honda’s decision to place a lot of emphasis on how the Brio drives is also clear once you are on the move. The 1198cc four-cylinder engine is the same brilliant motor that powers Honda’s larger Jazz in India, and the 90bhp feels very lively. It would, for this car weighs approximately 70kg less than the larger Jazz and that means the Brio holds a significant advantage as far as the power-to-weight ratio is concerned. Sure, you still do encounter the slightly weak bottom end on occasion, but swapping gears via the light clutch and quick gearbox soon gets rid of this slight problem. The top end, however, feels zingy and effervescent and, as a result, punting this small car around can be quite fun at times. It’s also refined and smooth and you can expect class-leading efficiency from the Honda as well (the Jazz is already the most fuel efficient petrol hatch in India). There is a CVT version on offer in Thailand as well, but it is not clear if Honda will sell this version in India.

The Brio’s electrically adjusted steering is very light and this is ideal for city traffic. You can literally steer the car with just a flick of the wrist, which makes cross-town journeys less stressful. More enthusiastic drivers though are sure to be a little disappointed with the slightly vague feel and the total lack of communication with the road.

Also slightly disappointing is the ride quality. Like many Hondas, it feels a bit lumpy over poor roads and a good majority of road imperfections filter into the cabin. However, the ride quality improves as you go faster and the Brio also feels adequately stable at highway speeds. Despite the light steering, the Brio also possesses good grip in corners and feels easy to control. And the brakes have a good pedal action and stopping power as well. It’s also safe to say that Honda has done a good job of refinement and external noise suppression. The Brio is quite good for a car in this class and this makes the Honda a surprisingly relaxing car to drive. In fact, the Brio drives in a very similar fashion as the Jazz; it’s just that the two cars differ when it comes to the size of their cabins.

Glance at the spec sheet and you’ll note that the Brio has a shorter wheelbase length than the Jazz by 150mm. In spite of that, the Brio can still seat four six-footers in decent comfort and this is down to the car’s clever packaging. Honda has installed seats with thin backrests, the scooped-out glovebox allows the passenger a bit more legroom and the doorpads used are very minimalistic as well, yielding plenty of additional space in the process. Cost cutting however is evident. The seats have no adjustable headrest, only a pane rear glass is used instead of a costly hatch and there is no rear defogger or wiper.

On the positive side, Thai-spec Brios get dual airbags and anti-lock brakes as standard across the range; hopefully, this will be the case in India as well. Despite the general cost savings, however, the Brio’s interiors feel well-made. The chunky steering is nice to hold, the hooded dials look attractive and the plastic quality is better than you expect.

That the Brio is an impressive city car is easy to see. It possesses a reasonable amount of agility, its 1.2 petrol engine delivers positively sprightly performance and its compact dimensions are ideal for city traffic. It’s reasonably comfortable, quite attractive on the outside and will deliver a good ownership experience. The difficult bit for Honda, however, will be pricing it aggressively enough. A starting price of anything above Rs 4.5 lakh is not likely to excite many, and keeping a lid on the price will be Honda’s biggest challenge.


Commercial add

Honda Small Car is christened "Brio"

The Small Car Concept which was unvieled by Honda at the Auto Expo 2010 is going to be christened as Brio. The main reason for Honda to develop Brio was that the sales of Jazz is declining day by day due to its high price. Honda Cars India don't want to repeat the mistakes and it is expected that they are going to price Brio very comptitively around Rs. 4.5-6 lakhs. Honda Jazz's base model is priced at Rs. 7 lakh rupees which is very high in comparison to other B+ segment hatchbacks - Hyundai i20, Ford Figo, Maruti Ritz, Nissan Micra and Chevrolet Beat.

Update: Honda Brio's production version unveiled in Thailand

Fast Facts About Honda Brio

- Brio will be the cheapest Honda in India
- Brio will be powered by the same 1192cc petrol engine of Jazz
- The price of Brio is expected to be between Rs. 4.5 to 6 lakhs
- Brio will be available in 4 variants - E, S, V and V AT (Speculation)
- Expected to be launched by Diwali/End 2011 (Update: Launch delayed due to earthquake in Japan)

Engine of Honda Brio

- 1198cc, SOHC, i-VTEC Petrol engine
- Maximum power of 89 Bhp at 6200 rpm
- Maximum torque of 110 Nm at 4800 rpm

Honda Brio will be powered by the same engine which is doing duty under the hood of Honda Jazz. The 1198cc, SOHC, i-VTEC petrol engine develops maximum power of 89 Bhp at 6200 rpm with maximum torque of 110 Nm at 4800 rpm.

Expected Variants of Honda Brio

- Honda Brio E
- Honda Brio S
- Honda Brio V

- Honda Brio V AT (Speculation)

It is expected that Honda Brio will be available in 4 variants: E, S, V and V AT. The top of the line V Variant is expected to feature automatic climate control system, power steering, power windows, remote central locking, rear defogger, rear washer, rear wiper, alloy wheels, body colored door handles, ABS with EBD and Dual SRS Airbags.
Expected Price of Honda Brio
It is expected that Honda India is going to price the Brio very compititively, the base model will be priced around Rs. 4.5 lakhs and top model is expected to be priced around Rs. 6 lakhs. If Honda Cars India is able to launch Brio at this price then it is for sure that it will be a huge success for company. Here are variant wise prices of Honda Brio:

- Honda Brio E - Rs. 450000.00
- Honda Brio S - Rs. 500000.00
- Honda Brio V - Rs. 550000.00
- Honda Brio V AT - Rs. 600000.00

Expected Shades in Honda Brio

It is expected that Honda Brio will be available in 7 shades: White, Black, Green, Red, Blue, Grey and Silver.

Expected Launch Date of Honda Brio

It is expected that Honda Brio will be launched by next diwali or we can say in the last quarter of 2011.  (Update: Launch delayed due to earthquake in Japan)

Fan of autos Report on Honda Brio

Based on a completely new platform, the Brio will be an entry level compact car that will be 3.6 meters long and will be powered by the same 1.2-litre engine powering the Jazz. There will only be one engine option at the time of the launch. There are no plans for the diesel motor so far. Honda is developing an India-specific version of the Brio which will be launched just before Diwali 2011. With the Brio, Honda will leverage the resources it has cultivated through its motorcycle business in India and other Asian countries and utilize local sourcing of parts and materials such as sheet steel.
The Brio will also boast of cutting-edge technology that would help return good fuel economy. Honda is hopeful of producing a car that will be the most economical car in its segment. Interior packaging on the car will be in line with the Jazz, so expect it to be high on comfort and space. 

Press Release - Honda Brio - Unveiled in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand, March 17, 2011 - Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (HATC), Honda's automobile production and sales subsidiary in Thailand, unveiled its highly-anticipated Honda BRIO which makes its world premiere debut. The latest innovation from Honda is expected to raise the bar and set a new standard for eco-cars in terms of design, packaging, cabin comfort and fuel-efficiency in Thailand. The starting price will be 399,900 baht, with an annual sales plan of 40,000 units. (1 baht = approximately 2.7 yen)
Honda BRIO is being developed with Honda’s advanced technologies, while further advancing Honda’s “man maximum, machine minimum” concept*1. Being developed as a commuter car which is easy-to-use even in urban areas, the Honda BRIO adopts an easy-to-handle compact body while ensuring sufficient cabin space achieved through highly efficient packaging. With this vehicle, Honda thoroughly pursued the creation of an advanced exterior form, which is compact while asserting a strong presence.
The BRIO is equipped with Honda’s 1.2-liter 4-cylinder i-VTEC engine delivering 90 horsepower. This i-VTEC engine combines stress-free driving throughout the rpm range with outstanding fuel economy of 5 liters/100km*2. Its fuel economy-enhancing technologies and nimble performance makes the compact car enjoyable and fun to drive. Emissions from the Brio meets the stringent Euro 4 emission standards.
BRIO features Honda’s safety technologies including dual SRS front airbags, disc brakes, Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) which prevents wheel locking and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) which enhances braking performance. (available in all versions).
Incorporating Honda’s G-Force Control (G-CON) technology, the BRIO’s high-performance body features several outstanding elements that enhance its design, driving performance, ride comfort and collision safety performance.  Its high performance body satisfies safety standards for both front and side impacts as specified by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)’s regulations 94 and 95, respectively.
Atsushi Fujimoto, President of Honda Automobile (Thailand), said, “It brings Honda great pride to unveil the first BRIO in the world, manufactured, assembled and marketed here in Thailand. The BRIO will meet the driving and lifestyle needs of people who are looking for a stylish and compact, yet spacious and fuel-efficient car that carries a brand that they can trust for its advanced and safety technologies.”
*1 Honda’s “man maximum, machine minimum” concept is a basic approach to Honda car design calling for maximizing the space available for people and minimizing the space required for mechanical components. *2 Measures with ECE R101 mode


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