August 14, 2014 By Andrew Rodriguez

Honda’s Hundred-Horse Micros

Honda Philippines organized a preview testdrive of the Brio hatchback and its counterpart sedan, the Amaze, giving media the chance to put the 100hp microcars through their paces.

Manila, 13Aug14—Honda Philippines today organized a preview testdrive of the Brio hatchback and its counterpart sedan, the Amaze, giving media the chance to put the 100hp microcars through their paces.  Held on roads ideal for hill racing in nearby Tagaytay, the preview drive put the cars in conditions measurably tougher than what these would encounter in typical city commutes—a setting well chosen for experiencing the cars’ distinguishing powertrain and dynamics.  Positioned under the Jazz and the City, the Brio and Amaze are meant to compete with everything smaller than Honda’s popular hatchback and sedan sub-compacts.  Clearly though, Honda has set its sights on the top end of the smallest car class.

Tested at the preview drive with 5-speed automatic transmissions, both the Brio and Amaze will also be offered with 5-speed manual transmissions, and both transmission types will certainly be put to task by the cars’ powerful engine.  For the Philippines, both the Brio and its Amaze sibling are to have the 1.3+ litre (1,339cc) L13B i-VTEC producing 100hp at 6,200RPM and 94lb-ft of torque at 4,300RPM.  (The same powerplant was offered in the sub-compact Honda Jazz before that model’s newest generation up-sized its smallest engine option to the 1.5litre i-VTEC.)

A significant move by Honda, the carmaker chose to introduce Philippine base models with an engine reserved for its RS or rally sport performance variants in Indonesia where the Brio and Amaze were first outfitted with the larger 1.3litre engine in 2012.  When first introduced in Thailand and then later in India in 2011, the Brio line had featured the 1.2litre L12B i-VTEC that delivers 89hp at 6,200RPM. The bigger 1.3 i-VTEC engine on the Philippine and Indonesian versions delivers 12% more power on the same light 920kg chassis, resulting in a weight-to-power ratio of just 9.4Kg of load per unit of horsepower on the lighter hatchback Brio—a ratio that’s even better than the 9.9Kg per unit of horsepower on the Jazz with its 109hp engine, and an advantage the Brio sustains even with the weight overhead of five passengers at a typical 80kg for each person.

The Honda micros put exceptionally high width-to-wheelbase ratios—72% on the Brio hatchback, 70% on the Amaze sedan—on a well balanced independent-strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension system.  One could describe the Brio platform as a faithfully scaled down version of the Jazz that got even better with its smaller, down-sized dimensions.  The Brio and even the slightly longer Amaze frankly steer in the direction you point them, with no hesitation or over-steering as long as you manage your speed while keeping off the brakes—this, even on stock 175/65 R14 tyres in wheel wells that readily accept wider 185s.

Prices are yet to be announced but with the public launch set for the upcoming Philippine International Motor Show next month, the Brio and Amaze price points will soon be made known. If not for anything else, Honda’s record sales last month of 1,353 units (up by 7% from July 2013) shows it having a winning strategy for hitting the right balance between asking price and perceived value.  And, though its competition will be the wide local selection of microcars which include the already popular Toyota Wigo and Mitsubishi Mirage with prices starting at the mid-PhP400k and mid-PhP500k marks, respectively, Honda could still dance to its own tune with the class-defying power and handling dynamics of the Brio and Amaze.  For its new Brio and Amaze micros, Honda could set prices anywhere under the mid-PhP700k starting prices of its own Jazz

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