The Brio has been Honda’s smallest and cheapest offering in the country. Ever since the vehicle was introduced back in 2011, it hasn’t had any major update. There have been new variants and the addition of the automatic gearbox, but visually there has been no change. 5 years is a long time. In a bid to stay fresh, Honda has launched an update of the Brio. We were present for the first drive and tell you what this update is all about.
Let’s start with the pricing. There are only 3 manual variants and one automatic one. Here is the variant wise pricing for the vehicle: E MT: Rs 4.69 lakhs, SMT: Rs 5.20 lakhs, VX MT: Rs 5.95 lakhs, VX AT: Rs 6.81 lakhs. If you opt for the pearl white finish, you will have to spend Rs 4,000 more.
Visual and equipment update
Let’s start with the visual update first since that is the area with significant changes. Up front, the car now gets a new bumper which is similar to that on the Amaze facelift. The grille has been updated as well and gets a gloss black treatment which really looks nice. Finally someone understands that not all people love bling. The headlamp cluster too has received an update. The remaining part of the design up front remain the same though. At the back, the tail lamp cluster has been upgraded and there is a new spoiler on offer. Sadly, the company didn’t launch the RS version that is available internationally.
Even though the car looks a lot nicer now, it retains its original shape. This is more of a minor make over job for the outside than a major one.
The interiors have gotten a major change though. The dashboard has been updated with the unit which is there on the Amaze. An interesting touch is the fact that the company has opted for a carbon fibre finish on the dashboard which gives it a cool look. Like on the Amaze, the Brio too has a climate control system on offer on all variants, including the base trim which is a nice thing. The whole dash looks a lot more premium now which is a good thing.
A 2-Din audio system with USB, Aux and bluetooth connectivity is on offer on all variants except the base one and steering mounted controls are also on offer. The instrument cluster has also been changed and now sports a blue theme. Where the base 2 trims get beige interiors, the top of the line gets black interiors to give it a more sporty appeal. Sadly the company is not offering a rear wiper on the Indian version. A rear defogger is being offered though on all variants except the base trim.
On the safety front, ABS, EBD and dual airbags are on offer, but only on the top of the line VX MT and VX AT trims which is a sad thing. There is no option of opting for the safety kit on the lower variants which is something I feel Honda should rectify.
Under the hood, the car has the same 1.2 liter i-VTEC engine making 87 Bhp and 109 Nm. The engine is mated to either a 5 speed manual or a 5 speed automatic transmission. Unlike the Amaze where the company opted for a CVT, this one continues to get the older unit. ARAI figures for the manual transmission variant is 18.5 km/l and that for the automatic is 16.5 km/l. So how is it to drive?
We got behind the wheel of the automatic variant. The first thing you notice is that there is no dead pedal on the car. Start her up and the engine settles into a really quiet idle. The engine is so silent at idle that we even had one person try and crank an already on car. The display for the gear shifter has been integrated into the trip meter housing which is a nice idea to save space.
The engine, like all VTECs needs to be revved to extract the best juice out of it. If you want to drive hard, the gearbox is a little slow to react initially, however once on the move it holds the gear till above 6300 rpm if you keep the throttle pinned. At higher revvs, the engine sounds very gruff. The moment you lift off the car will shift up a few gears to make you stay in efficiency mode. In normal commute, I found the transmission a little jerky at lower speeds when crawling. As speeds increase though the transmission is pretty smooth.
Ride quality is pretty good as well. The thing you will like a lot though is the way the car handles. Though the Brio has an EPS, it still handles pretty. Even at higher speeds, the car is pretty composed. One more thing I liked a lot were the brakes. They inspire a lot of confidence to push the car.