This time our long-termer garage gets a B-segment car for a while. Not just any b-segment car but Honda ’s mid-size hatchback-the Brio . The Brio we have is the top of the line Brio V that comes with all the bells and whistles and mainly the automatic transmission option.
Odometer reading: 3651km
Current reading: 4110km
Kilometers driven: 459
Fuel costs: Rs.4000/-
We drove this car around the city as much as we could in all conditions possible after we got our hands on it.
From the open early morning roads to the crowded, traffic-jammed highways of weekday evenings, all the avenues were explored.
The first thing that strikes us more than anything is the space on the inside. The Brio looks small and compact from the outside but on the inside it comfortably seats 4 full-grown adults. Honda has reduced the exterior space by cutting down on the size of the engine bay and the trunk, which immediately increases the space on the inside. The cabin is a well-balanced combination of comfort and style. The interior plastics are not tacky and spell quality. The next striking feature is the ease of drive. Honda’s 5-speed automatic transmission coupled with the decently powered 1.2-litre engine works well to deliver the right amount of power required to commute through the busy city.
The auto-box shifts smoothly around 1800rpm on a light throttle. If more power is needed, keep your foot on the throttle and let off at the desired rpm for the car to shift into the next gear.
The downside is that the engine can get a bit too noisy at rpms above 3000 and it does sound like the engine is being strained even though it may not be.
Since the car is light the pick-up and acceleration is quick but not instant. That’s the case in most urban automatics nowadays. They are built for easy driving and simple commutes.
The steering is mildly heavy and it feels like you are driving a car. It responds well but is not dead and light like a few in the market. Hondas are famous for their ride quality.
Smooth and clean. Bumps felt don’t jolt the body too much nor is there any kind of wallowing in the body that makes the car feel as if it is floating.
It’s the perfect combination of stiff and soft. Corners are handled precisely and the car cruises smoothly at all desired speeds on the highway.
A feature that’s pretty neat with the Brio is the ECO light on the dash. It behaves like a reward function, turning on every time you are at the right rpm in the correct gear, signifying that you are getting a good reading for fuel consumption.
Although the automatic transmission does give a slightly lower fuel consumption average than the manual, it’s not too rough on the wallet as a daily driver. The trunk is slightly on the smaller side but sufficient enough for a weekend trip away from the city. If really required then the rear seats can be folded down and the Brio can be turned into a massive storage unit on wheels.
The single glass trunk-lid makes the car look very sleek and at the same time cuts down a lot of unnecessary weight. The A/C works exceptionally well and cools very quickly. The Brio doesn’t have electronic climate control but to be honest its not required.
The car is sophisticated enough to handle a manually controllable A/C. the main drawback is the noise the fan makes on the highest setting. It is quite loud and can cause quite the drone.
The sound system is great and easy to use. The top models of the Brio comes with a USB plug and play port that is very quick to respond once plugged in. The controls for the stereo are also located on the left had side of the steering wheel. These controls are integrated well with the system and ergonomically feel appropriate.
Unfortunately, Honda being on a budget did not backlight the steering mounted controls.
They have similarly not backlit the window controls of the mirror adjustment switches either. That does get slightly annoying once in a while.
We enjoy the Brio. It is easy and relaxed to drive and has enough and more space required going around town or on a weekend getaway close to the city. It performs exceptionally well in the city environment and the automatic-box really eases the driving style, eliminating the clutch-break action required in heavy traffic.
Odometer reading: 3651km
Current reading: 4650km
Kilometers driven: 999
Fuel costs: Rs.11,200/-
For driving around in the city, short drives from home to work and errands around town the Brio is an ideal vehicle. Considering that it is does come with an automatic variant the ease of drive is just fabulous. One does not have to worry about clutch release in heavy traffic nor does one need to bother with the changing of gears when on the move. The Brio’s automatic transmission handles all that.
We took the Brio around Mumbai extensively. Be it in peak traffic hours or early morning and late night drives, the car performed well every time. Yes the shifts had a lag but the power was nowhere close to disappointing. In the right gear at the correct RPM the Brio can easily hit speeds of 140kmph and then continue to keep climbing. No doubt it is not really built for constant driving at these speeds and the fuel consumption drops drastically but the point here is that, if you want to get up and go, the Brio does not disappoint. It may take a bit to get up there but it does and the thrill is great.
The interiors feel genuine and build quality is great. It seems that Honda has not gone cheap with the plastics or the seat upholstery. The dash is large and visible making it easy to use. The inbuilt USB feature is a nice touch. What they could have added was Bluetooth connectivity for phone connections so that calls can be answered while on the move. Most vehicles have that function now days. The A/C cools well but the noise levels of the fan on settings 3 and 4 were quite high. The cabin is insulated quite well. This allows for conversations in the car to go undisturbed by the exterior chaos. The space is great in the car. Four passengers plus one driver can sit easily and it did not seem cramped at all.
With the Brio, Honda has hit the nail on the head when it comes to hatchbacks. Parking should be the main USP of the Brio. It is one easy vehicle to park in the busy city. Small and compact the Brio usually fits into most of the spaces available in the ever full parking situation of this metropolis. The short turning radius allows the Brio to maneuver into the tightest spaces in less time which means holding up traffic and getting constantly honked at does not happen frequently in a city where everyone is on the rush.
Fuel consumption depends on how one drives the automatic. If you happen to have a heavy right foot, expect to pay frequent visits to the gas station to fill up your 40L petrol tank. Conservative driving can yield around 9.8-10.8kmpl in the city, which includes driving around in stop-go peak traffic times. On the highway the Brio is smooth and cruises right along. At a constant speed of about 80-100kmph a good mileage of 15.5kmpl can be achieved.
Up till now with whatever extensive driving we have done in the car, we have enjoyed most of it, the ride, the drivability, the comfortable interiors and the fuel mileage. The automatic is slightly slower on the gearshifts and you can feel when it changes gears, but for metropolitan driving that does not matter. The Brio and the city are a hand in glove pair.
Report 3 - Good Bye and Last road trip
As you must have read in our last report, we drove the Brio Automatic through every nook and cranny of the city. Be it in densely congested areas or the open highway in the early hours of the morning, our verdict was pretty similar. We really enjoyed driving the Brio around town.
This time we decided to take it to Lavasa, close to Pune for a few days. Being an automatic transmission we knew that the shifts would have some lag and that we would be able to feel the changes. The throttle response was great at higher RPMS but not as immediate when it came to the lower ones.
On the expressway, the ride was extremely smooth and with a constant speed of 80kmph with the A/C running and 3 passengers and a full trunk, the mileage we got was 15.1kmpl. On the ghats, one does have to work the accelerator pedal to keep the speed up and at the same time keep the rpms in the ECO zone so as to get good fuel mileage. Where the automatic Brio felt sluggish and impractical was on the inclined hairpin turns leading up to Lavasa. The downshifts took very long and accelerating out of corners was a task for the car. Handling wise the car performed immaculately. There was minimal body roll, at no point did I feel the car wanting to let loose even taking corners as higher than average speeds. The A/C cooled well throughout the whole journey. It was a hot day and the air-conditioning performed its duty well.
One aspect that we didn’t pay much attention to during our city drive that we did notice in the long distance drive was the engine noise of the Brio was quite high. That, being coupled with the A/C blower made it quite a noisy affair. Due to that the music system had to be turned up which added to the decibel levels. Nonetheless the comfort levels in the vehicle for the driver and the passengers were more than enough. If there is one aspect we really appreciate about the Brio, it’s the space. Five adults fit easily in the cabin with not enough luggage room for a 3-day getaway from the city.
On the way back the mileage we got was 16.3kmpl. Partly because the drive consisted of a lot of downhill slopes and the car had only one person. Still that is not bad at all when it comes to a petrol automatic hatch. It effortlessly over-took other vehicles and was comfortable at high speeds of 120kmph-140kmph. Unnoticeable steering vibrations and body vibrations.
All-in-all we have to say that we did enjoy the Brio being part of our Long-termer Garage, but it is now time to bid it adieu. A car that is compact, stylish, priced well, packed with features and an auto-box, this car is a perfect day-to-day commuter amidst city lifestyle and traffic. In the city the mileage does drop down quite extensively but then there is always the option of the exact same car with the manual transmission instead. An option that we highly recommend.