A breezy experience with Brio
Honda is now in the crowded compact car market, where Brio is gaining acceptance
Honda Siel Cars India, the subsidiary of Honda Motors Japan, has been in the country for more than a decade now.
But despite the phenomenal legacy of Honda quality and brand name, the company is yet to become a force to reckon with in the Indian car market.
The primary reason for the relatively lacklustre performance is that till recently, Honda did not have a small car, the belly of the Indian car market with a 70 per cent share.
Honda has recently addressed this problem by launching its small compact car Brio (pronounced as Br-ee-o, meaning ‘Cheerful’ in Italian) which will join the company’s stable that has well-known car models like Honda Jazz, Honda City, Honda Civic and Honda Accord.
Brio was relaunched at the end of February 2012 after the company was forced to suspend its production soon, following its first launch in India in November 2011 due to massive flooding of Honda’s Thailand plant that supplied all the crucial parts for the car.
Now with the resumption of full-scale production, sales numbers of the Brio indicate that it has become a hit in the small car segment.
Honda recently claimed that the Brio has been very well-received in the market as the company has sold more than 16,500 units since the resumption of production in February 2012 and cumulatively more than 18,500 units from its launch time in October 2011.
Honda is also quite upbeat with the market response to its real mass segment model, hopeful that it will provide the additional volumes and drive growth the current year.
“Brio has been specifically designed for the Indian customers and is a true reflection of Honda’s DNA, combining futuristic design, spacious interiors, peppy performance and safety,” said Honda Siel Senior Vice-President (Marketing & Sales) Jnaneswar Sen.
To get a real feel of the car, I recently took a Brio for a day-long drive outside Bangalore. Frankly speaking, from the word go, I started liking the Brio for its easy-going driveability.
One thing was clear right at the outset that Brio has been developed keeping in mind the driving conditions on Indian city roads, dotted with monstrous road humps and back-breaking pot holes.
The Brio’s soft electronic power steering, small turning radius and good ground clearance certainly make it easy driving on crowded city roads.
The size is also compact as the car is 3610 mm long, 1680 mm wide and 1500 mm tall. With a wheel base of 2345 mm, Brio adopts the wide form to create openness and comfort within a compact body size.
From outside, most people seem to like its look and use attributes like ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’. The company says Brio’s efficient energetic exterior concept features a form conveying vibrant energy from nose to tail, and a sleek look that emphasises its width and advanced styling.
The front design and side views of the car also convey forward motion, thereby giving it a sporty look.
The most important feature of the car is its engine. Here Honda has used its tried and tested small i-Vtec 1.2 litre petrol engine it uses in Jazz.
The four cylinder engine produces maximum power output of 88 PS @ 6000 rpm and torque of 109 Nm (11.2 kgm) at 4000 rpm. Honda claims that under the ARAI-certified figure for fuel economy test, Brio gives 18.4 km a litre, one of the best in its class.
The car is available in 5-speed manual transmission with optimised gear ratios, which offers good low rpm acceleration and smooth high rpm performance needed for good fuel economy. The torquey performance also makes it enjoyable and fun to drive.
Inside the car, Honda Brio comes with an efficient impressive interior design concept, which leverages its innovative packaging to offer occupants an open and spacious interior. Though the car is only 3610 mm long, the legroom in the rear seat is good enough even for a fairly tall person.
The boot is also big enough for a car of this size. The cabin, however, should have been made quieter because it gets a bit noisy when the car hits 60 kmph speed on the highway.
Surely, the Brio provides comfortable driving even in not-so-friendly driving situations, as the car features a McPherson strut suspension in the front and H-shaped torsion beam rear suspension for stable road handling. This also makes handling easy when cornering at a fairly high speed.
Honda also claimed that incorporating Honda’s G-CON (G-Force Control Technology, the Brio’s high-performance body makes extensive use of high tensile steel in key areas of the frame.
Dampers, trailing arms and rear hatch area have enhanced rigidity to contribute to steady chassis performance and nimble driving.
It also features Honda’s active and passive safety technologies including dual SRS front airbags, Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), which prevents wheel locking and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). These features are, however, available in the top variants.
The front body structure of the Brio is equipped with pedestrian injury mitigation technology which is designed to absorb impact energy causing less harm to the pedestrian in case of an accident.
With so many Goodies, the Brio is competitively priced at Rs 4,07,000 - Rs 5,32,000 (ex-showroom Bangalore).