2016 Honda Brio review
Honda’s nippy hatchback gets refreshed for the first time since its launch in 2011. Five years on, the Brio has sold a little over 87,000 units in India, averaging a not very significant 17,500 units per year. Honda doesn’t seem to be worried though as the carmaker builds its cars on a flexible assembly line, which means the company isn’t impacted much by poor sales of the Brio. The same assembly line can make the Amaze and other India-made cars in the Honda line-up so smart production planning has kept pressure off the Brio. Five years still is a long time, and a update comes to infuse some much needed life into the Brio.
Nothing mechanical. The Brio gets a new front bumper with the exactly same design of the updated Amaze, a fresh grille with black gloss finish that’s a design theme carried over from Honda’s other hatchback, the Jazz, a revised taillamp cluster and a chunky rear spoiler. The exterior changes aren’t many but do enough to give it a fresh look. The updates to the interior are more significant.
The spruced up interiors. Honda is now offering the Brio in two interior colours, beige on all variants except the top spec Brio. The black interior on this top trim looks sportier, and also goes well with the new black dashboard. The fabric and finish is similar to what you see in the Jazz. The dashboard gets a lot of piano black finish on the centre console, a carbon finished sticker, handsfree telephony, Bluetooth and steering mounted audio controls. Since Bluetooth was added only with this update, the steering controls don’t offer phone functions. It also gets digital AC controls, but what’s disappointing is the absence of climate control.
Since the Brio is such a planted car, it masks the sense of speed, relatively speaking of course. It makes 87bhp at 6000rpm and 109Nm at 4500rpm, which is good for a car that weighs 930kg in theory, but most of the performance can be accessed past 3000rpm which means you will have to drive the i-VTEC hard and shift higher up the rev band to maintain a brisk pace. The gearbox is quick nice though with short throws and crisp shifts so you can drive the pants off the Brio when you want to.
Fun to drive?
An engine that does more higher up the rev band and a shifter that slots short and quick shifts is a recipe for a fun car. More power could do though, especially because the Brio is such a fantastically darty little hatchback. It loves to turn in and holds its line well too. The Brio could do with a RS version if Honda decides to infuse some sportiness into its models. It is the last of the only-petrol Hondas, and also one of more solidly built ones. The Brio came around the time when Honda made fun cars, and a fair bit of that excitement trickled into this baby hatchback.
Easy on the pocket?
Prices start from Rs 4.69 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi for the base E MT variant. This is VX variant that costs Rs 5.95 lakh. Honda also has 5-speed automatic torque convertor in its line-up, offered only in top trim at Rs 6.82 lakh, which is quite a premium over the manual Brio. As far as price comparison goes, the Brio is the most expensive hatchback in its class, costlier than the Hyundai Grand i10, Maruti Celerio and Tata Tiago.
The prices clearly show that the Brio is a little on the premium side with a Rs 30,000 premium over the next most expensive competitor, the Grand i10. Honda is however catering to car buyers who already own Honda cars and are looking for a smaller Honda as their second car. The Brio fits in well for this owner profile.
evo India rating
An improved cabin and a few extra features are the main draw for the refreshed Brio. Five years on, the update isn’t as extensive though. Honda’s conservative approach may not do much for the Brio’s sales, but for Honda’s target group of Honda owners looking for a second car, the nippy hatchback has more to offer. Few updates aside, the Brio is still as fun to drive as it was when it came in 2011, and even now, it still holds that thrill of driving (for a small hatchback) benchmark.
Engine: In-line 4-cyl, 1198cc, i-VTEC petrol
Power: 87bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 109Nm @ 4500rpm
Top Speed: NA
Prices (ex-showroom Delhi):
VX MT: Rs 5.95 lakh
VX AT:Rs 6.81 lakh