Honda have always being bringing in their latest technology to the Indian shores however what was missing was always the presence of a diesel engine in their lineup. But then Honda have always being reluctant about pulling in a diesel engine to their Indian lineup and this arrogance has cost them big time recently. The Honda City falling behind the Volkswagen Vento in regards to sales for consecutive two months is testimony enough to the fact. Out of the cumulative sales of the petrol and diesel engined Vento, it was the diesel which garnered more sales. Volkswagen, though, don’t depend entirely on the Vento to generate their volumes number. It is the Volkswagen Polo, the small car in their lineup which is the volumes garner. It is a known fact that Honda is a more revered brand in India than Volkswagen. Even Honda CR-V owners have a high respect for this cars and the same is with the Honda bike lovers here. Honda have realized that to stay in the volumes game, they would have to bring in a small car. Small cars sell 4 times more than their bigger counterparts. Unfortunately the Tsunami and stuff made sure that the designated launch of their small car, the Honda Brio in India couldn’t happen as decided. Infact, its launch has been pushed forward to Diwali. We have a preview of the Honda Brio here in this article.
The looks signal a cab forward design, something which Honda have been using since the time the second generation City set foot on the Indian shores. The chunky chrome grille is present with the Honda logo in the center. The all new City has it and the Honda Civic with its 2011 edition would follow suit. The Accord started it all. The head lamps are pop out ones, much like the ones found in the Maruti A-star. There are fake air intakes much in a similar fashion that one can see in a fighter plane. The Brio also looks like a concept car, in the same way that the Chevy Beat and the Maruti A-star look like. The wing mirrors are body colored while Honda has provided 14 inch wheels as a standard fare. Now, if they would feature alloys or not would depend on the variants that they would bring in to India. There are evidences of a Swift and A-star, Beat inspired design in the way that the roofline suddenly swoops downwards. The front window glass is very low while the rear one is on the higher side. The clear lens tail lamps however make for a great feature. They are triangular in nature and have a large circular red stop lamp. However one design factor in the Honda Brio which stands out is the absence of a boot hatch. Instead it has got a glass pane. The glass pane is devoid of any wiper as well. The Honda logo sits proudly atop this very glass pane.
Honda’s trump car has always being the interiors of their cars which, though, speak of not many features but just high quality materials. However coming to the Brio’s cabin, customers are bound to be disappointed. It seems to have gone more the Etios way rather than the Polo way. The dashboard is filled with black colored materials and the glove box is in beige color. The dashboard doesn’t feel soft to touch and is made up with grainy material. Equipment levels are bare basic as one can expect from an economy hatch. There is the same audio player as seen on the Honda City and pretty much nothing else. The seats seem taken from the Tata Nano as they have an integrated head rest to them. Just like the Suzuki Swift, the front seats have been given preference over the rear ones and hence they feel more comfortable overall. There are 4 speakers and two tweeters given in this car. As for the rear seats, they are said to be not comfortable much in the same ball park as other Honda cars are. The steering wheel is a 3 spoke unit however Honda haven’t provided the same wheel as in the Jazz. Moreover, there are no audio controls a la Volkswagen Polo. The meter dials are somewhat similar to the ones in the City however Honda says there is a difference as there is an Eco mode light indicator. What it does is something which would only be revealed once we take a test drive of the Honda Brio in India or even a review. Plenty of storage options abound in the cabin and this is definitely in place to mask the tiny boot space which the Brio comes with. Clearly Honda is aiming for the singles market rather than make this hatch one for the families.
Honda have made the steering wheel in the Brio to have electrical assist much like the one in the Jazz. It is said that the Thailand version of the Honda Brio has been tuned to be on the stiffer side. This means that ride quality over typical Indian roads and that is if the Brio comes in the same suspension setup as the one in Thailand, would be a bit jiggly. Moreover noise insulation is also not said to be good enough than the others in its class. Up the speeds and the Brio is said to be very stable on the highways with a good ride quality. The handling of this car would be in the same leagues as that of the Honda Jazz albeit with lesser metal at the rear. The tyres on the Jazz would give away easily however the ones in the Brio are said to be much wider though the exact configuration that would be coming to India is yet unknown. It is said that the Thai customers prefer noisier cars as they give a sense of speed while the Indian customers prefer silent interiors. Honda would do well to add some sound deadening materials under the hood.
As for the engine option, there is only a single engine option under the hood of the Honda Brio in India. It would be the same 1.2 liter Ivtec unit which is present in the Honda Jazz. This 4 cylinder unit makes 90 Bhp of power at a lofty 6000 rpm while the torque figure is 110 Nm at 4800 rpm. Transmission option would initially be a 5 speed manual unit however as demand picks up, Honda may also consider offering the CVT transmission. The Brio weighs in about a good 70-80 kgs less than what the Jazz weighs. So its performance would definitely be better than that of the Jazz. Honda haven’t given any official performance figures however we think that the Brio would be quicker by almost 1.5 seconds from the 0-100 kmph dash than the Jazz. As for the safety features, the Brio would come with discs in the front and drums in rear with brake boosters. ABS would be available on the top end variant. The top variant would come with twin airbags. As for the fuel efficiency, it is certain to eclipse the Honda Jazz, which incidentally is the most fuel efficient car in its class. With a lighter kerb weight and similar engine, it is definite that the fuel efficient would not be anything less than class leading.
Certain cost cutting measures are evident in the construction of the Honda Brio. Even though it is one of the most eagerly awaited cars in its category, the Indian public have now grown wary of waiting for it. Unfortunately the circumstances are such that Honda had to push back the launch date to Diwali season of 2011. God forbid, if there is any other catastrophe that would hit this launch, then it would be curtains down for the Brio, that is even before it is launched here. Well, the fact that Toyota can make budget cars is a myth has been busted aptly by the Etios and now it remains to be seen if Honda can actually break the myth with the all new Honda Brio in India. The Honda Brio price in India is expected to start from Rs 4.3 lakhs and end up in Rs 5.23 lakhs for the top end variant. If at all, the CVT comes in, expect it to add another Rs 80k to the equation.