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All-new Honda Brio is small in size, big in sales

By Aida Sevilla-Mendoza Philippine Daily Inquirer July 10,2019
Small in size, big in sales

The 2019 Honda Brio RS variant is stylishly sporty with a piano black front grille, the RS emblem and 15-inch alloy wheels.

The Brio is the smallest car in Honda Cars Philippines’ lineup, but the 2019 model is looming big in sales.

In just two months, from the day the all-new Brio was launched on April 23 up to June 25, 610 units had already been sold.

This was announced by HCPI president Noriyuki Takakura at the June 25 media launch of the refreshed BR-V, the Brio’s compact crossover sibling.

The 1.257 percent increase in sales year-on-year versus the first generation Brio’s sales could have been due to the special introductory prices offered by HCPI until June 2019.

Effective July 1, prices went up by 1 percent across the board for the four variants of the all-new Brio.

But attributing the spike in sales solely to introductory pricing would be overlooking the many ways the second gen Brio has improved.

Let us count the ways.

SIZE AND STYLE. First, the Brio has grown up not only in size, but also in style.

It is still smaller than the Jazz, but it has adopted some of the design cues of Honda’s award-winning subcompact hatchback.

Small in size, big in sales

The frisky 1.2-liter 4-cylinder SOHC i-VTEC engine of the 2019 Brio is paired with an Earth Dreams Technology CVT like the 2019 Honda Civic.

The peculiar exterior design has been replaced by a more mature, more wholesome image.

The bug eyes have given way to sleek, upward sweeping multi-reflector halogen headlights with LED parking light guides.

The large, all-glass rear panel has been replaced by a sturdy new tailgate fitted with rear combination lights and rear reflectors that emphasize the Brio’s rear wide stance.

The new tailgate improves the rigidity of the body structure which translates into safer mobility for the vehicle’s occupants.

MORE SPACE. Second, thanks to a longer (by 60 mm) wheelbase and extended (by 90 mm) cargo area, cabin space has increased, which solves the preceding model’s cramped rear cabin and small cargo space problems.

The longer wheelbase means more legroom for rear seat passengers and more cargo capacity.

As a result, the new Brio provides a more comfortable ride than its predecessor, especially on long trips.

Small in size, big in sales

In the cockpit, a 7-inch touchscreen audio system, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, orange accents.

The longer wheelbase also allows bigger rear doors, making ingress and egress easier.

At the same time, the Brio can carry more stuff.

Cargo space has increased by 83 liters to 258 liters when the rear seat is up, and 710 liters with the rear seat folded down.

However, the rear seat is a bench, not the 60/40 splitting type found in most hatchbacks. So when the rear seat is folded down, the resulting extra cargo space is not flat, but tilted upwards (see photo).

SPORTY ASPIRATIONS. Third, by introducing a RS (Road Sailing) variant to the new Brio lineup, Honda Motor Company fulfills consumer aspirations for a sporty but practical and affordable small car.

The Brio RS Navi CVT (P737,000) and Brio Black Top RS Navi CVT (P742,000) are powered by the same 1.2-liter SOHC i-VTEC gasoline engine producing 90 PS and 110 Nm max torque as the Brio V CVT (P658,000) and the Brio S MT (P598,000) – but the commonality ends there.

The RS variants sport a RS Design piano black front grille with RS emblem, RS Design 15-inch alloy wheels, RS Design side sill garnish and rear bumper garnish, plus tailgate spoiler with LED high mount stop lamp.

The top of the line is the Black Top RS Brio that has an exclusive new color: Phoenix Orange.

The non-RS variants have a chrome front grille with honeycomb pattern and 14-inch alloy wheels.

Small in size, big in sales

Cargo space increases from 258 to 710 liters when the bench rear seat is folded down.

The sporty theme of the RS variants is carried over into the cabin where orange accents enhance the dashboard and door trims, and orange stitching on the black fabric seats adds a touch of class.

All variants except the Brio S MT get a 7-inch touchscreen audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, but only the RS variants have six speakers via the addition of two tweeters.

COUNTERBALANCED. Fourth, Honda Motor dropped a new but smaller 1.2-liter engine with ECO lamp into the 2019 Brio’s engine bay, resulting in less horsepower and torque.

But Honda counterbalanced this with a newly developed Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) based on Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology.

The new engine and new CVT combine to provide the Brio driver frisky acceleration, a comfortable ride, and outstanding fuel economy.

In the RS variants, a re-tuned suspension offers a more engaging driving experience. The Brio’s height is lower by 15 mm, complementing the sporty stance.

With excellent sound insulation and solid build quality, the 2019 Brio performs smoothly with little wind and road noise intruding the cabin.

On the other hand, when the Brio hits the highway, steadily increasing pedal inputs are necessary to keep up or overtake.

The Brio, after all, was designed to be a city car, not a highway cruiser.

Reflecting its price point, the Brio has limited safety features: driver and front passenger airbags, ABS, engine immobilizer and G-CON technology for impact absorption to protect passengers should a collision occur.

However, even the RS variants don’t have EBD (electronic brake force distribution) or

Vehicle Stability Assist, Honda’s version of electronic stability control.

BOTTOM LINE. These shortcomings notwithstanding, the 2019 Brio represents an excellent choice for first time car buyers and young couples looking for a sporty, fuel-efficient and comfy yet affordable little urban runabout bearing the highly esteemed Honda badge.

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