Looked upon as a premium brand in India, Honda decided that it needs to go mass market to attract more customers. The Honda Brio was the Japanese automaker’s competitor in the hatchback space which constitutes for almost 70% of the car sales in India. But fortune did not favor Honda.
As soon as the Brio was launched, Honda component factories in Thailand and Japan were struck by natural calamities resulting in shortage of supply. As a result Honda had to shut down bookings for the Brio and the Jazz. Finally some help came from other component manufacturers from China and Honda could resume the production of the Brio. Now, the little stalwart can be booked from any Honda dealership in India. So we decided to have a closer look at what Honda had to offer to an average Joe aspiring to buy his first car.
Honda has been always criticized for having a conservative approach in its design language that will only appeal to octogenarians. However, Honda Brio is not targeted towards the retired but rather to a young audience and the design needed to convey the same.
Honda’s designers have done a radical job with the Brio’s exterior. The Honda Brio’s design is actually a summation of two triangles thus there are many sharp edges pointing out of the car. The idea is to make the Brio as aerodynamic as possible to reduce drag and boost fuel economy.
The Honda designers and engineers focused on key aspects such as larger area of visibility, better knee room and ample boot space. Overall, the Brio looks very small and cute and more in the league of the i10 and A-star than the Swift or i20.
The front fascia features a leaf shaped headlamp with black surrounds separating the main headlamp barrel from the turn indicators. The rather small grill in the front features a chrome bar that make the Brio look very cutesy. The front also features a blackened out wide air dam. The radiator is very much exposed with little or no protection. Honda says it helps in efficient engine cooling in the hot and humid Indian conditions.
The bonnet has 2 sharp lines on either side giving the appeal of a sporty hatchback. Because of its angular design, the Brio does exclude massive road presence for its size.
The Brio’s bold stance is carried over to the side profile as well. The side profile features 2 sharp lines – one rising from the front bumper going all the way to the tail lamps and the other one starting from the front door and meeting the wheel arches. The wheel arches are flared very aggressively and complementing them are the aerodynamically designed mirrors.
The arches house tiny 14 inches aluminum wheels with 175/65/14 Tubeless Radials. 5 spoke alloy wheels are available on the top variant. The only other car in the hatchback space with such a dynamic side profile is the Chevrolet Beat. The pull-up antenna on the A pillar is slightly old fashioned and the first sign of cost cutting.
There are three things that give the Brio its true character. First is the engine (which we will find out in the driving review), second is the nippy handling (also in driving review), the third is the rear profile. The most unique aspect of the Brio that makes it stand apart in the parking lot is the rear glass hatch.
The rear profile of the brio stuns you with oodles of panache. It is the only hatchback that features an all glass boot lid instead of a conventional ‘glass in a frame’ set up. So is it fragile you ask? I tried banging it thrice with full force and nothing happened. But I am not sure whether it is safe to have a glass hatch in a rear impact scenario.
The tail lamps look like afterburners of a jet plane. A tiny spoiler when coupled with edge shaped bumper provide optimized air flow in-and-around the car and reduces the under body turbulence respectively. Rear wiper and defogger is absent which could be tricky when reversing in rainy conditions.
We are quite happy that Honda chose a love-it-or-hate-it design for the Brio to separate it from the rest of the crowd. Unlike the rival Japanese project – Etios/Liva, the Brio’s design is very modern and contemporary and will be loved by the younger generations. The aesthetics of design sort of resembles an Apple iPod – very cool and very fashionable.