Honda Brio 1.2 V Roadtest - A Level Up
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Honda Siel Cars India Ltd or HSCI has been around in the Indian car market since a long time now and has tasted success to highest levels till off late its sales dipped to an all time low. There was a spot of worry, Honda in India had the Jazz as its smallest offering but many thought it was overpriced till recently that it got a major price cut and now sells at Rs. 5.50 Lakhs making it one of the best value for money Petrol hatch in its segment. Honda was not going to settle with this, they had another car model smaller than the Honda Jazz up their sleeves. Honda had the Protype of this small car meant for the Asian markets, this prototype christened Honda Brio, pronounced as Bri-ee-oo would be the smallest offering from Honda for the Indian market too. Honda Brio launched in the Thailand market a few months back and is now ready for its Indian debut.
We drove Honda's latest and smallest offering for India, Honda Brio across some wonderful and scenic roads of the port city Vizag to find out if the very important model from Honda for India really lives up to the expectations. Read on to know all on the Honda Brio.
The Honda Brio when seen at first glance is an instant head turner, its got all the right curves and just the right shape to grab your attention. In short the Honda Brio is the best looker currently in the hatch back segment. The Honda Brio has an overall length of 3610mm, a breadth of 1680mm and an overall height of 1500mm. The face of the Honda Brio looks cute and futuristic. The cat eye headlamps with integrated turn lights in them look in shape and chubby. The front bumper of the Honda Brio is low slung with a lot of curves on it. The air dam is an all black affair with integrated oval fog lamps placed on them. The front bumper runs high and mates with the front grill that has an thick chromed typical Honda V strip grill with a large Honda H logo on it . The bonnet on the Honda Brio is rounded with a pair of crease lines that run down and mate with the V grill on its nose. Honda Brio gets a nice heavy look thanks to the thick V Grill and the rounded bumper up front. The front wind shield is placed at an angle to enhance the overall aerodynamic feel and appeal. Honda Brio has a very large glass house, large windows and a huge front and rear windshield add a lot of grace to the Brio.
Honda Brio has a lot to offer when viewed sideways, a short and thick fender with bulged out design on them keep up with the rounded bonnet. The Honda Brio runs on MRF ZVTV tyres that have a rating of 175/65 R14 mounted on a very trendy looking five double spoked alloy wheels. There is a very sharp crease that runs upwards starting from the middle of the front fender and running across the front door and ending just near the rear window. There also is a second softer crease that runs lower on the sides just above the running board. The front and the rear fenders have a rounded shape on them with a sharp crease that defines their shape and also have small crystal turn lights. The door handles are placed at an angle coinciding with the up swept side crease on the doors. The roof line also gets the upswept effect starting from the angled front wind shield then going upwards and finally mating with the boot lid. The rear window get a black out covering instead of an quarter glass and there is a nice aerodynamic design on the The tail lamps are placed and shaped in such a way that they are very visible from the sides too. Honda Brio gets nice large wing mirrors that are electrically adjustable. The Honda Brio gets a manual retractable radio antenna.
The rear section is the best profile on the Honda Brio, things here look space age and the design it unseen on any car on Indian roads. The back of the Honda Brio is almost full glass, in fact the rear tailgate is frame-less and made up fully of toughened one piece glass. This all glass tail gate goes all the way down to the rear bumper. There is a black banding on the lower part of the tail gate and that’s where the rear monograms in all chrome are placed. HONDA on the left corner and BRIO iVtec on the right look very catchy along with a huge Honda H logo placed in the center. There also is an integrated rear spoiler that also has a wide rear brake lamp. The rear of the Honda Brio is mostly taken by the very catch glass lid. The tail lamps are triangular in shape and have an crystal LED look on them, The rear stop lamp are rounded with neat integrated turn and reverse lamps all housed in the chunky triangular tail light. The rear bumper is low slung with the rear number plate housing placed far lower than a conventional height. Just below the Honda logo at the rear is a small plastic handle that is to be used to lift the tail gate while opening it. Two things sorely missed on the Honda Brio is the rear washer – defogger and a fixed radio antenna.
Overall the Honda Brio has a very sporty and trendy styling on the outside; the looks are very unconventional and futuristic. There is no cost cutting evident as on other small cars, the fit and finish is excellent and so is the paint job. The design element is bold and different especially on the sides and the rear with a very good mix of rounded and angular body panels. The Honda Brio easily qualifies as the best looking car currently on the Indian roads in its segment.
Interiors – Cabin
Get inside this cutie hatchback Honda Brio and you get a very bright and fresh feel thanks to the large glass area all around and partly due to the light beige upholstery. The dash is in dual color, with the top in black and the lower half in light beige shade. Plastic quality on the dash feels good and upmarket. The Honda Brio gets a rounded three-pod instrument cluster with the RPM on the left in semi circle housing, the speedo in the center in full round housing and the warning lights on the right side again in a semi circle housing. The fuel meter is a LCD display along with the Trip meters and odometer. Instrumentation on the cluster is large and clear with the markings in bright orange on silver band and the needle in bright orange. There also is a ECO indicator that helps in fuel efficiency, more on the ECO mode and its functionality later in the drive section.
The Honda Brio gets a multifunction 3 spoke steering wheel with controls for the MP3/FM player mounted on the left side. The steering has a manual height adjust. Now moving to the center console, a standard double Din MP3/FM system does its duty on the Brio, there is also a USB connectivity port in here where you can simply connect a iPod etc and control it from this player or the steering. Audio quality on this double din player is very audible via the 4 speakers mounted in the doors. Under the music player are the manual controls for the AC unit. You get a four speed AC blower that cools the Honda Brio's cabin quickly and efficiently. The rounded AC vents have a silver lining around them and can be adjusted or closed individually. The gear shifter resembles a golf ball and looks and feels the same as the one on the Honda Jazz. There is also a chrome strip on the mount of the geat stalk. The seats are in dual tone fabric in light beige and a touch of brown.
Front seats get integrated head rests. The front seats get manual adjust for reach but height adjust is not available. The driver seating position if near about perfect and typically Honda. Front seats are nicely contoured with good amount of padding and support offered to the back and under thigh. We would have appreciated an height adjust head rest at least on the top end Honda Brio variant. There is ample head room and shoulder room on the front seats. The seating posture is excellent and the driver always has a good overall view of the road and surroundings thanks to the large glass area all around. The rear seats has good under thigh support and the backrest is at a good angle. The rear seats also have integrated head rests. Leg room is decent with good amount of head room and comfort levels are pretty high in here. There is a dash of brown plastic material on the dashboard and door puddings along with the black and beige on the Brio's interiors.
The Honda Brio comes with front driver and passenger airbags. All in all the cabin area in the Honda Brio gives a up market feel and is very sound proof. Plastics, switches, knobs and other materials used is of good quality and the comfort level is good inside the Honda Brio.
Engine – Drive – Suspension
The Honda Brio is powered by the same 1.2liter i-Vtec petrol engine that powers the Honda Jazz. This 1198cc 16 valves engine makes 88PS of power @ 6000rpm and has 109 Nm of torque @ 4600rpm. Honda claims a fuel efficiency of 18.4kmpl on the Brio. This 1.2 i-VTEC engine is mated to an 5 speed manual gearbox that’s same as the one on the Jazz but the one on the Brio has revised gear ratios to suit the car.
Honda has always been the kings of Petrol engines, right from the initial years cars from Honda are known for their performance and refinement. The 1.2 i-VTEC engine on Hondsa Brio though same as the one on the Jazz feels a lot more peppy thanks to the lesser over all weight of the Honda Brio as compared to the Jazz. The power to weight ratio on the Honda Brio is also much better and helps in a big way in getting more performance out of the i-VTEC.
Start the engine and it is very difficult to notice the engine noise, the highly smooth engine is free revving. Gear shift is precise on the Honda Brio. The Brio takes off quickly in the first gear, shift to the second and the i-VTEC shows its next level of power, performance and refinement. The speed builds up quickly but sanely, the power delivery is linear and in control. The Honda Brio has a very strong mid end; this is when the Honda Brio can keep cruising till intended. We managed to touch the 150kmph speed mark and are sure that this engine is capable of still more speeds. The EPS steering wheel has a nice lively crisp feel to it and is equally weighted.
The Honda Brio performs well at low city crawling speeds when we took it around Vizags dock area. The i-VTEC shows its true colors on open highways when we zipped it at 150kmph, the car behaved well and drove like a gem. Honda Brio gets MacPherson Strut in the front and H-shape torsion beam at the rear, Honda has taken great care in retuning the suspension of the Honda Brio for Indian conditions. The ground clearance is also increased to 165mm especially for India. Honda Brio handles the bad roads and the good roads with an equal amount of comfort and confidence. There is a very Honda drive feel to the overall drive package. There are the needed things like ABS and EBD available on the Honda Brio to make things much safer for that reassuring braking. The 4.5 meter turn radius on the Honda Brio makes parking and turning a breeze.
ECO Mode On The Honda Brio.
Getting the best fuel efficiency is what every car owner wants and to help you squeeze out the best mileage the Honda Brio has a special ECO Lamp on the instrument panel. This ECO lamp glows keeping in tandem with the RPM, speed, throttle response and the gear the car is driving in.
With the City Honda had shown its domination in the 8-10lakh sedan segment and it still is a very strong product, the pricing of the Jazz was a miss but Honda realized it and now the Jazz is the hot favorite in the segment. Honda Brio is a very strong product from Honda, its got the looks, the grace and the up market feel in and out. Honda Brio has the best rear profile design seen on a hatch on Indian roads. Honda Brio is a very good package overall combined with the ever reliable 1.2liter i-VTEC engine that’s refined, robust and efficient. With Honda's engineering strongly behind the Honda Brio not much can go wrong for Honda India with this product. As with all car models pricing holds the key and if Honda gets the Brio priced intelligently nothing can stop it from going on to be a big seller in the Rs. 4 to 5lakh segment where we expect the Honda Brio to be priced when it’s launched very soon in September.