The small subcompact segment is filled with entries from various manufacturers. A standout in the segment is none other than the Honda Brio, the Japanese brand’s refreshed entry. The price of this model undercuts many offerings from other brands because the core of the Brio has been engineered to give maximum value to consumers regardless of the variant.
It becomes a bit of a task to choose from the four on offer. Ranging from the Brio 1.2 S MT all the way to the 1.2 RS Black Top CVT. So which variant gets the cake in between value, and overall appeal? Read more to find out.
We always stress the importance of making an informed buying decision, but what’s more important is to buy what you like and buy what you can afford.
The start of something new
The S variant of the Brio serves as the base for everything to come. Like what was mentioned in the intro, the Brio is based on a solid foundation which is added upon with various trim pieces. It seems like even at its baser forms this Honda is as compelling – if not more, than its more expensive RS Trim because the name plate starts at only P598,000.
The line comes standard with a 1.2L (SOHC) that produces 89 hp and 110 Nm of torque. The engine won’t set the world on fire, but it is enough to bring you up and down from Baguio without complaint. The engine can be mated to a CVT or manual and produces respectable fuel economy figures, but in this S trim, we have a five-speed manual.
The head unit for this trim is a one-din audio system that is basic in its operation, and it gets better with the addition of an automatic transmission.
The exterior is handsome and comes with a good look for this generation. The headlights are standard halogen reflectors with LED park lights embedded in the housing.
Add a CVT and a few things
The transmission, wheels, fog lights, and the head unit are the major changes when you go a model up. In the base model, you get 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps. In the V CVT model, however, you get alloys in the same size.
Your transmission is going to be an Earth Dreams CVT unit in this variant. Above the gear lever sits the seven-inch capacitive infotainment system with bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, which – of course – is better than the single-din found in the lower variant. You also get steering mounted audio controls from this model onwards, which makes changing the volume or track as intuitive as possible while driving.
Minor differences from the S to V is the inclusion of speed sensing door locks, interior trim, and mirrors in the sun visors. For V variants and beyond, expect your doors to be locked automatically once you hit 15 km/h, your interior trim in silver, and a mirror to check your appearance if need be. To upgrade to this model expect to pay P60,000 more for all these features, bringing the Brio V CVT to a price of P658,000.
RS or bust?
Add another P79,000 and you might get wowed by this next trim level. When we first saw the RS variant in our media drive with Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI), we were greeted with a Taffeta White Brio RS. There is no doubt in our minds that this is the most attractive of all the trim levels. The styling isn’t too over the top, and it does mesh well with the rest of the bodylines of this small subcompact.
Everything that made the V variant good is retained in the RS, but with an extra bit of flare that Honda’s RS design can deliver. Getting into this trim level will require P737,000, and glossy black must be the part of the package with an RS trim level. The chrome grille is now painted in a piano black color with an RS emblem. The rear bumper and side sills also get RS design garnishes. Add to this a tailgate spoiler, and you have yourself a small car that looks like a hot hatch – note that we said looks like. Instead of having turn signal indicators on the body, the repeater can be found in the side mirror. On top of that, you also get power folding side mirrors a feature nearly unheard of in the segment. To top it all off, you get a set of two tone diamond cut aluminum alloy wheels in a 15-inch size.
Aside from the trim pieces, you have now have a six-speaker sound system in the RS variant, which is noticeably different from the four that can be found in the V. You still get the same seven-inch touch screen with steering mounted audio controls.
If you want a bright color such as Taffeta White, Carnival Yellow, Phoenix Orange Pearl, you would have to fork over more money, because these colors come with a black roof, or black top. The RS Blacktop variants can be had for an extra P5,000 over the Modern Steel Metallic RS variant, which brings the price up to P742,000.
Moving over to the interior, you get orange trim all over, and it serves as one of the main draws of the model. Orange is a color of choice for the RS design of Honda. You can see it not only on the trim pieces in the dash, but also on the seats, gauge cluster, and door cards. There is even an RS logo in the 12 o’clock position of the speedometer. A minor difference is the adjustable headrest that can be found in this trim level.
As with all our Which Variant segments on AutoDeal, we applaud the variants that are value-oriented and the variant which is most appealing.
Reaching a verdict was quite tough. To be honest, there are a few things to consider when buying a car like this. Manual transmissions are quite fun in their own way, and maybe it is better to have full control of a vehicle, but in city traffic, a CVT will definitely be better. The Manual also comes with a single-din head unit, and steel wheels, but at P60,000 less than the most affordable automatic variant, it is hard to justify. To get into the next trim level you would have to shell out about 10% more on top of the base model’s price. V Variant is perfectly serviceable as a city car, but it looks like the S variant save for the fog lights and alloys. The RS costs even more and almost hits the P750,000 mark for the black top variants, especially.
We know that there are four units to choose from, but we cannot deny that save for a different transmission, all variants have the same level of performance and serviceability, and while we understand that a stick in a small car can be pretty fun, a CVT will make life so much easier.
Of course, the top of the line variant is where the model looks the part, feels the part, and sounds the part. We do advise consumers to skip the Modern Steel Metallic color since this quirky hatch just looks so good in its black top trim with bright colors. At P742,000 it’s a little bit of a premium, but this little hatchback can turn a few heads in this trim, and there is no denying that.
So yes, we did just recommend three out of four variants in the lineup. Under P600,000 for a well built car is not a simple feat to achieve, and that quality bleeds through even to the base variant.
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