The little guys of the country’s A-Segment have been joined by a probable game changer.
Launched last April and printed on the cover of our May 2019 issue, the all-new Honda Brio stands as the Japanese manufacturer’s smallest and most affordable car in the Philippines. But this hatchback isn’t like others in the class it’s classified in. After a full day of driving to La Union, I’m quite confident in saying that the Brio will make a promising impact thanks to its impressive drivability, upscale aesthetics, and outstanding interior package – all in a segment that’s long been labeled as boring, cheap, and just plain practical.
To sum up observations from the group media test drive, here are five noteworthy details and features on the 2019 Honda Brio.
Capable engine and outstanding drivability for a car in this segment
The 1.3-liter engine of the old model was replaced with a new 1.2-liter, 4-cylinder SOHC engine that’s mated with either a 5-speed manual transmission or an Earth Dreams Technology CVT. Now, we can’t ignore the fact that the lower displacement resulted to lower power figures on the Brio. But it certainly did not feel lacking during our drive from BGC to La Union. Power delivery was predictable and impressive for its size. Drivability at high speeds along with handling in winding roads were outstanding and unexpected for such small package. By the end of the drive, the Brio was able to register 14.9 km/L in combined city and highway roads.
Sporty and aggressive appeal
Never mind the huge aesthetic improvements from its predecessor– the Brio now claims the crown as the most upscale-looking car in the segment. Sure, it still sits on the same platform as the previous model, but the car has been completely restyled with a more mature look. Gone is the cutesy character from the old one. Changes are highlighted by new headlights and a front grille similar to that of the current Mobilio. The Brio RS dons a gloss black grille, while standard variants get it in chrome. The wide, muscular front bumper completes the new aggressive front design. Standard in all variants are LED light guides on the headlights. It was also relieving to find that the Brio’s tailgate now opens like a normal hatchback – ditching the awkward glass-only opening.
Remarkable legroom and cargo space
There’s a lot to like about the new Brio. But it was legroom and cargo space that really swayed me during our trip. When it was Nics’ (who’s quite tall) turn to sit at the back, and I was the front passenger, he asked me to adjust my seat all the way back. We were both surprised that he was able to manage an hour in this arrangement. He even forgot that I had my legs comfortably stretched at the front. Honda was clever enough to design the back of the front seats in such a way that it’s pushed inward from top to bottom in order to add significant legroom for the rear passengers. Although the rear can fit three adults, it can only comfortably sit two – but realistic individuals shouldn’t really expect much here in the first place. With a total cargo space of 258 liters, the Brio was able to carry two large bags from each of the three occupants, a cooler, and additional camera gear. Even with this amount of luggage, I still had a clear view of the rear-view mirror as the driver.
Interior materials and construction
The 1.2 V CVT we drove is well-packaged for a mid-trim and at the price point. The audio system is a 7-inch touchscreen audio with Bluetooth, audio streaming, and USB connectivity. Media is channeled through the four speakers integrated on the lower portion of each door. It may not boast the biggest or fanciest touchscreen, but it’s surely more responsive than some systems installed in more expensive cars. Dominating the cabin is a black theme. What I especially found effective in promoting the premium feel of the Brio are the black pillars and ceiling. But this interior really then separates itself from others in its segment with the solidly installed buttons on the air-conditioning system, infotainment system, and the firmly placed air vents. NVH levels are even lower than what I expected from a small car like Brio.
Superior to its class
Most of the details and features I pointed out speak of how the well-engineered the Honda Brio is – a significant and well-planned jump from its predecessor. While maintaining a competitive price, the Brio rises above the competition thanks to all-around improvements. The Honda Brio is an ideal city drive, but it also proved that it’s more than capable of challenging what people perceive its common purpose to be.
|Cylinder Head||Aluminum, SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder|
|Fuel Injector||Programmed Fuel Injection|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||89 bhp @ 6000 rpm|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||81 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm|
|Transmission||Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||14.9 km/L Combined|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||PhP 646,000|
|What's Great||Impressive interior, surprising handling even at high speeds and winding roads, exterior looks great|
|What's Not So||Smaller displacement, lower power figures|
|C! Editors Rating||9/10|