Words and photos by Manny N. de los Reyes
“BRIO” is Spanish for “spirit,” “vigor,” or “vivacity.”
It’s also the name of Honda’s smallest car. We’ve driven the first-gen Brio and, true enough, it brims with spirit, vigor, and vivacity. That first Brio was widely perceived as the best in its class, saddled only by a price tag that was a fair jump higher than its rivals.
Now Honda is avoiding that pitfall by releasing an all-new Brio that’s not only much better looking and substantially more spacious, but actually starts at a lower price than its predecessor.
The new Brio was developed based on Honda’s grand concept “Proud Over Class,” which stems from the intention to improve aspects of the vehicle that its users need. With this, the new Brio was developed to be one class above its segment with significant improvements, specifically in interior space and overall refinement.
The new Brio now gets an additional 60mm of extended wheelbase and 90mm of extended cargo area compared to its predecessor. This results in greater rear seat legroom and cargo area — an impressive feat considering that the overall length of the car hardly changed.
There is now 258 liters of cargo space with the rear seats up and an impressive 710 liters with the rear seats folded down.
The Brio boasts a dynamic yet upscale exterior styling aligned with the “Proud Over Class” concept. This aims to provide a sleek and sporty profile emphasizing low center of gravity and wide stance — unique in this segment.
The new Brio sports a confident front fascia featuring a honeycomb grille and multi-reflector halogen headlamps with LED park lights, which combine to create an aggressive, hunkered down look.
At the rear, the Brio features a new tailgate — a departure from the large glass panel found in its predecessor. This gives the new Brio improved body rigidity, which helps improve stiffness of the body structure while providing safety for passengers — while still retaining that vaunted Honda all-around visibility.
The large external red lenses of the taillamps extend to the edge of the vehicle, emphasizing the Brio’s wide stance. The car sits on 14-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the new Brio boasts high-quality materials that provide a sporty yet comfortable feel. For added convenience, the Brio now features air-conditioning with a digital display. Two audio head unit options are available: a 7-inch touchscreen for the 1.2 V CVT, and a 1-DIN head unit for the 1.2 S MT. Both systems allow passengers to connect their devices via Bluetooth or USB.
With its popularity as a sport compact car in the Southeast Asian Market, the RS variant — based on the Small RS Concept previewed at the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) last year — was developed to express Honda’s sporting heritage.
The Brio RS features an aggressive sporty exterior design with its RS Design piano-black grille, one-inch-bigger RS Design 15-inch alloy wheels, RS Design side skirts, rear bumper garnish, and tailgate spoiler.
The interior of the Brio RS reflects the sporty exterior. The variant’s RS Design cabin with orange accents is highly emphasized on both dashboard and door trims. Paired with black fabric seats with orange accents, this gives the driver and passenger a sportier and upscale appearance.
The Brio RS also has the 7-inch touchscreen audio system but features a 6-speaker setup inclusive of two additional tweeters.
Completing the sporty image of the new Brio RS, a 2-tone black top RS variant featuring the RS exclusive Phoenix Orange Pearl color found in other Honda RS models, will be available together with other colors for the 1.2 RS Black Top CVT variant.
Powering the Brio is a new 1.2-liter 4-cylinder SOHC i-VTEC engine that produces 90ps at 6,000 rpm and 11.2 kg-m of torque at 4,800 rpm. This is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) developed on Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology. A 5-speed stickshift is available in the entry-level 1.2 S MT variant.
In terms of safety, the Brio boasts a Four Star ASEAN NCAP safety rating as it comes equipped with the essential active and passive vehicle safety features. Honda’s G-CON technology enhances impact absorption for the added protection of passengers in a collision. All variants of the Brio get dual front air bags and ABS as standard.
The new Brio comes in five colors: Phoenix Orange (new color; exclusive for 1.2 RS Black Top CVT); Carnival Yellow (new color; 1.2 RS Black Top CVT and 1.2 V CVT only); Rallye Red (1.2 V CVT and 1.2 S MT only); Modern Steel Metallic (1.2 RS CVT, 1.2 V CVT and 1.2 S MT); and Taffeta White.
Price-wise, Honda will be offering the new Brio at the following introductory prices until June: the Brio 1.2 S MT at P585,000, the Brio 1.2 V CVT at P646,000, the Brio 1.2 RS Navi CVT at P727,000, and the top-of-the-line 1.2 RS Black Top Navi CVT at P732,000.