Honda Brio: Why it will shake up the hatchback market

The new Honda Brio is just around the corner, with the launch likely in October. And it’s a car that’s going to have the competition sit up and take notice. This will be the cheapest Honda available in India, and is likely to chomp a large chunk out of the hatchback pie. Here are first impressions of the car you will see on the roads soon.

Here’s what Honda has got right with the Brio.

The good stuff

Looks: The car is unique in its looks, with a cute cab-forward stance, large glass area and a unique all-glass boot hatch. An all glass hatch was last seen in the first generation Maruti 800 in 1984. The Honda Brio, is definitely a good-looking car from all quarters.

honda brio blue photo
Photo: The Brio is a refined, peppy car with decent passenger comfort for five.

Engine: Honda has used the same 1.2-litre, four cylinder engine that does duty in the Jazz in the Brio, but has altered the specs slightly, so that it now makes 87 bhp of power and 109 Nm of torque. In terms of power output, it has the best power-to-weight ratio in its class. Honda has also altered the ratios of the 5-speed gearbox, making the gearing a little taller in the interest of fuel economy.

Mileage: The better gearing and lightweight body of the Brio has resulted in good fuel economy and at par with competition. It has an ARAI-certified mileage of 18.4 kmpl, which is just a little short of that on the Maruti A-Star, Wagon R and Alto. It’s almost comparable to the Swift’s claimed mileage.

Safety: Honda is likely to offer the Brio in two variants (S and V), with all variants coming standard with ABS and dual front airbags. This is one area Honda has never compromised on any of its cars, be it the Brio, Jazz, City or Civic.

Equipment: The Honda Brio has just the right amount of equipment that a self-driving owner needs. It has electric power steering, steering-mounted audio controls, electric mirrors, power windows and central locking. Air-conditioning is only manually controlled, which is par for this segment (except for the top-end Beat). What is missing though is a rear wiper and defogger, as the design of the rear hatch has made it difficult to add these features. The top-end Brio also gets alloy wheels and dual-tone upholstery.

Passenger space: Legroom is generous in the rear seat in the Brio, while the almost flat floor allows three people to sit in comfort. However, headroom may be a bit of a bother for tall passengers. The front seats are spacious and supportive, making this a comfortable daily driver.

Not so good

There are a few things in the Honda Brio that may not go down well with all kinds of buyers. Here are a couple of them:

Boot space: The boot space is only 175 litres, which is just about as much as a Maruti Alto. The all-glass hatchback also seems more delicate. Some may also be concerned about privacy, as luggage kept in the boot is visible, although Honda has smoked out the lower half of the hatch.

Flat-folding seats: The rear-seat can only be single-folded flat to increase luggage space when needed, and is not a split-folding seat, which could have added versatility. However, this may not be that big an issue if one is buying this car primarily as a daily commuter or a city runabout.

Likely Pricing

During the launch of the face-lifted Jazz, Honda had told CarToq that the Brio will be priced below Rs 5 lakh. Localization levels of the Brio are likely to be higher than 80% at launch, as even the Jazz now has about 76% local content.

This will allow Honda to price the car competitively. We estimate the Honda Jazz will be priced at about Rs. 4.3 lakh for the base variant, going up to Rs. 5 lakh for the top-end variant. This pricing is keeping in mind that the Brio also offers safety equipment as standard fitment on its cars.

Brio versus the competition

The Honda Brio is going to be competing in a very crowded hatchback market. There are already 24 hatchbacks in this space, at least 12 of which are direct competitors. In terms of power output, the Brio beats all the petrol hatchbacks in its class sporting 1.2-litre engines, chalking up a healthy 87 bhp.

Cars such as Hyundai’s i10,  Maruti Suzuki A-Star and Chevrolet Beat are going to be the ones to feel some pressure from the Honda Brio. Cars such as Liva, Swift, Polo, Figo, Fabia and i20 are bigger cars, so buyers looking for bigger hatches are unlikely to consider the Brio.

Tell us what you think of the Brio proposition.

Technical Specifications

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