Honda has unveiled their new baby called “Brio”. Brio means vigor, vivacity – full of life. True to its name, Brio has an infectious appeal and character that let you fall in love with it and also as the Honda tag line goes “Brio Loves You Back”, definitely the car has a life in it that would love you back. Do I sound smitten by love? I am and you will know why, read ahead.
In India, Honda has always been identified with premium cars with their lineup of Jazz, City, Civic, Accord and CR-V. While City was a run-away hit and market leader in its segment, Jazz was a promising car but Honda bungled in its pricing. Recently Honda dropped prices to began an aggressive retailing phase for the company in the Indian market and the company pins a lot of hopes on its new model, Brio which could add the numbers and the bottom line profits.
Honda has done lot of homework into the making of Brio (pronounced: Br-ee-oo) considering the fact that the car is designed from scratch especially for India and Thailand market to begin with. The entry level hatchback segment is over-crowded with well established models plus new entrants rolling in. This is also a segment where one successful model means a huge volume for the company but the problem is cracking the segment which is demanding as well as price-sensitive. So what Honda did? It patiently went about doing surveys and collecting facts, understand the customer demands and mindset and then collaborated with European designers along side taking inputs and involving the engineers from the targeted segment countries and arrived at what Honda calls double triangle form for Brio. The below picture explains it. (For more interesting aspects on Honda’s design talk, read HERE)
So finally Honda Brio is here. Brio has a large-cylinder-design halogen headlights, a front grille that spells character and class of Honda’s styling. The bumper is flanked with wide lip like lines that give a wide stance. The two bold lines that draws up the front grille gives a strong presence and masculine nature to the car. Am I impressed by the front stance? Definitely yes.
A bold front…
The rear is interesting and Honda has taken a risk with the large glass hatch. You might like it or hate it or some of you might be slightly paranoid over the naked glass hatch. But trust Honda, the glass are really sturdy and fits very well. Its a hard reinforced glass hatch door and it isn’t definitely fragile at all, you can slam it shut as hard as a normal one. Personally, I liked this and it keeps the Brio stand apart from the rest since not many uses this design form factor these days.
The rear lights are interesting as well. Large, round red eye of the tail lamp and stop lights at the edges of the body accentuates the wider stance and protrudes and wraps up neatly to the sides and neatly slices the glass hatch diagonally.
In short, Brio has a pointy leaping forward wide stance, bold lines on the side that sprints upwards to the rear and a well sliced hatch with large glass and a curious tail lights all put together gives a contemporary, stable look to the car which is aerodynamic as well as boasts a terrific individual character and a strong presence.
Sit inside the car and you will smile at the tagline. Yes, Brio loves you back with one of the best in class interior quality. Inspite of the obvious pressure to keep the costs minimal, Honda has surprised as with a rich interior in the form of high quality plastic, fit and good upholstery. The dual tone beige upholstery brightens up the interiors as well as very comfortable and gives a uber cool rich feel to the car.
The dashboard is not as steep as in Jazz inspite of the forward design. A dual tone dashboard that nests the instrument console and other controls. Not overly glamorous, functional, pleasant and decent.
The 3 spoke design steering with a dash of smoky silver finish is compact and wonderful to hold and soft on your hands. Except for the start variant, all the other variants has steering mounted audio controls. The three pod analog 3D meter cluster with a soft orange illumination sits pretty. The MID display is basic and indicates trip distance info and average fuel consumption. The good part is the amber illumination stays even during the day light and is easy on eyes and to read. There is an Eco lamp function, when it is glowing green, it indicates you are driving economically. A green thought indeed!
Curiously, the music system controls are positioned slightly away from the driver but then the audio console is part of all the variants except for the basic variant. And one sore note, the audio console does not have a CD support. So you got to do with the USB sticks and other aux-in. Understood, a 4 GB USB costs very little now and can transport music in a pocket but then we still have a large population that are comfortable on CDs even now.
A long view from the rear…
The front door with side pockets. Note the blue color? well, its the lining pocket and strangely Honda decides to leave it bare showing the metal color of the car and not lining it with fabric. Yes, it adds a color but then I feel a fabric lining would have been a better idea.
The front sports a very comfortable riding stance with good legroom and headroom. The rear is decent enough not exceptionally roomy but average size to fit in easily the average Indian sizes.
The 175 liter boot space is well, small. The rear seats can be folded but no split folding. Don’t fret over the large glass hatch that might make your baggage visible in case you are paranoid about it, you might want the glass tinted dark or better grab a parcel tray. Personally, I found the glass hatch pretty and would not complain about it.
The heart, ride and performance of Brio:
The Brio is powered by the same 1.2 Liter SOHC i-VTEC petrol engine that is tucked inside the bigger sibling, Jazz. Though it is tuned marginally lower. The 4 cylinder engine delivers 88 BHP @ 6000 rpm and 109 Nm @ 4600 rpm.
Inspite of sharing the same engine as Jazz, being a lighter sibling Brio’s power to weight ratio is superior providing a peppier drive. City driving is a delight on Brio and feels very agile and willing. Handling is surefooted and reassuring in city traffic. It corners amazingly well thanks to a very responsive electric power steering. Drive it into highway, the car is more delight to ride, thanks to the characteristic refined engine of Honda staple.
ARAI certifies a 18.4 Km/litre fuel efficiency. Even if it is couple of notches below on realistic note, it is still a good score. Since it is Honda, it is only petrol engine as of now but Honda is believed to be working on a diesel engine but then it might take couple of years more for them to actually bring it to production level.
There are in total 4 variants of Brio and the top two variants come with front driver i-SRS and passenger SRS Airbags and also sports ABS with EBD. All the variants sports electric power steering and air conditioner with heater and also front power windows and central locking. The rear power windows is in all models except the starter one. Except the basic variant, all the variants also has keyless entry.
Brio comes in 6 colors – Energetic blue, Rallye Red, Urban Titanium, Alabaster Silver, Taffeta white and Crystal Black pearl.
Now, this is where Honda has got it all right, learning their bitter lesson from their Jazz experience. The base variant starts @ Rs. 3,95,000 and the top variants has a sticker price of Rs. 5,10,000.
(Prices Ex-showroom, New Delhi)
It is quiet a competitive and aggressive pricing considering the styling, performance , quality and goodies that come along with the car.
A compact car that carries the Honda’s engineering and quality mantra. At a very aggressive sticker price, it is definitely a value for money and a owner’s pride. Brio definitely loves you back. Fall in love, well I have. Brio has in it to be the car of the year in its segment.