02 September 2015

Honda Brio: Perfect Sidekick for the Solo Driver

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By Nana Nadal, 18 June 2015

I was thrilled when I found out that Honda was releasing a model under what I refer to as the “cute car category”. Since I started driving a Jazz 6 years ago, I’ve fallen in love with small cars, hatchbacks in particular. Driving them is stress-free! Parallel parking? Bring it on!

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I was not prepared for the size of the Brio though. It appeared to be really tiny. Surprisingly, its dimensions are not so far from the Jazz. The only significant difference is the length, the Brio is shorter by almost a foot (290mm) but it’s only about half an inch (15mm) less wide, and roughly one and a half inches (40mm) less tall.

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I think the Brio looks great, especially from behind --  with its expansive rear glass and triangular tail lamps. I appreciate the sporty element contributed by the tailgate spoiler, chrome grille and fog lights. They make the car look tough. Unlike the other cute car category models that I checked out previously, the Brio looks solid, even up close.  It feels solid too. I can confidently lean on the car without being afraid of causing a dent. The door doesn’t look like it shares the packaging of the corned beef I had for breakfast.

Brio Interiors 2Sliding into the driver’s seat of my 1.3 V test drive unit, I was greeted by the steering wheel audio controls and the 7-inch touch screen that provides access to the navigation system and other functions such as bluetooth hands-free telephone as well as the WiFi connectivity for internet browsing and content streaming.  I noticed an ECO indicator lamp on the dashboard too, a guide of sorts for fuel-efficient driving. Impressive! For a moment I forgot that the Brio is supposedly the most affordable car in the Honda line up.

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But the plastic parts quickly pulled me back to reality. And as I spent more time with the car, I noticed more things missing. Nothing major, really. Just little conveniences such as the express up feature of the driver’s window, the dead pedal or left foot rest, and a lever to pop the hatch from inside the car. Oh but I was aghast that there was no CD player. Or are CDs passe? Instead, the Brio has auxiliary-in and USB ports. I guess those are what this generation of drivers value more.

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While the rear legroom seems tight at first glance, it didn’t turn out so bad when I occupied the backseat, the space is sufficient for the 5’1” me (with the driver’s seat adjusted to my preferred driving position). The trunk space is a bit of a deal breaker though. I can’t imagine what I can fit in there, it’s almost negligible. Sure, the rear seat can be folded down to open up a huge cargo space but what happens to the passengers then? I think this narrows down the Brio’s market to solo car users or couples who rarely take on passengers with a lot of baggage, and just use the rest of the car as a cabinet or second home. Like me!

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I’d seriously consider getting myself a Brio especially since the new generation Jazz has increased to a price point that I am not willing to pay.  Switching to a Brio might be a bit of a downgrade to some, but none of the things that really matter are sacrificed anyway so I don’t mind. I really enjoyed driving the Brio. I was told that the name is Italian for “energetic” and “cheerful”. Well, the car is energetic on the road and it made me one cheerful lady behind the wheel. The brochure promised “swift throttle response, progressive power delivery” from its 4-cylinder, 1.3 liter i-VTEC engine, 5-speed automatic transmission. Check, check! It’s so easy to maneuver and the car provided a firm and smooth ride. I did not experience any headache-inducing kah-blag when hitting potholes or driving through rough surfaces. It effortlessly climbed the intimidating, steep entrance into the parking area of the Clipp Center in Bonifacio Global City. So yeah, performance-wise, I have no complaints. I didn’t get to try it on the expressway though, I wonder how it feels to be driving a Brio and have a bus zoom by.  Nothing to worry about, for sure. Besides, the Brio comes with standard safety equipment  -- dual SRS airbags and Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).

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To bring home the 1.3 V AT that I got to drive, you need P729,000. The 1.3 V MT is priced at P689,000; the 1.3 S MT at P609,000 and the 1.3 S AT at P649,000. Colors available are fresh lime metallic, taffeta white, alabaster silver metallic (1.3 S only), modern steel metallic (1.3 V only) and brilliant sporty blue (1.3 V only).

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