Is the new Brio just a looker? There’s only one way to find out. Read along for AutoDeal’s Honda Brio review in its RS Blacktop trim.
Mother nature has wonderful ways to amaze us mere mortals, thus, the birth of different branches of sciences. The processes of nature, like the very concept of night and day, or how the sea turns into rainfall, will always be interesting in the eyes of many. Among these things, I’ve always marveled at how caterpillars turn into butterflies, a process we all know as metamorphosis.
Now, I’m not writing a science paper here but why metamorphosis? Because the 2019 Honda Brio has just gone through that phase. From just a filler in Honda Cars Philippines’ lineup to now a full-blown handsome hatchback, I couldn’t help but be enthralled at how a facelift could change a car by a mile.
I may have used the wrong insect for my analogy earlier. The 2019 Brio isn’t a butterfly; it’s more of a bee – feisty, sharp, and something not to mess around with. The sharp lines and LED daytime running lights of the small hatchback align itself with the rest of Honda’s lineup, more so with its solid glossy black wing grille in the RS variant. Regardless of the halogen lighting setup, the new Brio went from zero to hero, and I’m pretty sure a great many will agree with me on this one.
I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to the Brio’s rear end, though. Personally, I prefer the huge black affair of its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong, the new rear fascia looks good but for me, the previous version has more character and differed itself from the rest of mini subcompact hatchbacks in the Philippines today.
The interior of the 2019 Brio has been greatly updated as well. Gone were the circular and curvy theme of the predecessor – the whole dashboard now mimics the angular and sharp exterior design. Orange accents can also be found inside, including the highlights on the dashboard, doors, and seat stitchings that stand out in the dark-themed cabin, which I adore to a certain extent: I’m not sure if the orange highlights would go with a yellow Brio RS.
As for specifics, the driver could use a seat height adjuster but if you’re my height at 5’6”, it won’t be a problem since the car already has wide driving visibility at its current seat height. Steering wheel’s tilt-adjustable, too, and even without the telescopic adjustment, it would be easy to find a suitable driving position.
For its size, head-room is plenty even for rear passengers but horizontal space remains ideal for two people only. Three is okay but definitely a squeeze. The rear bench seats are also soft, so long journeys won’t be an issue in terms of comfort. NVH insulation is surprisingly good for its price, while the suspension setup leans toward being sporty rather than comfy.
Behind the rear seats, the Brio gets 258 Liters of trunk space. It’s more than enough to fit a two-fold child stroller and a week worth of groceries. If you’ll need more, the rear seats fold flat to reveal 710 Liters of cargo area – much like its bigger brother, the Jazz.
At its price point, the 2019 Brio comes with just enough toys to match its price point. What’s good about it is that Honda Cars Philippines picked the right features that actually matter, such as speed-sensing door locks, auto up/down driver’s window, comprehensive trip and fuel consumption meter, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, power-folding mirrors, and a 7-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB port (for iPod connectivity). Sound is produced through a 6-speaker setup, which sounds okay for the most part.
There’s no Apple Carplay or Android Auto in the small hatchback, but that’s fine considering its price point. If there’s any gripe, the infotainment system doesn’t have a volume control knob.
The new Honda Brio gets almost a uniform set of safety and security features for all its variants – dual SRS airbags, seatbelt reminders for the front occupants, immobilizer, security alarm, and four five-point seatbelts. The middle passenger at the back would have to make do with a lap belt. The base S MT variant doesn’t have a security alarm, though.
I also wish that ISOFIX child seat tethers are added so that buyers with this type of child seat will be accommodated.
Driving & Handling
For 2019, the new Brio resolved to its smaller engine variant: the 1.2-liter SOHC i-VTEC gasoline engine, producing 89 hp and 110 Nm of torque. These numbers are sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. In comparison to its predecessor, the new engine is 11-hp and 17 Nm less powerful.
The dip in output numbers from before transcended into the actual drive. The Brio wasn’t underpowered but the engine delivered just enough to move the car at will. The CVT wasn’t lazy to send power to the front wheels, even from a standstill but if you want more when overtaking, just floor the accelerator, as with other CVTs.
While the 1.3L engine before would make you thank the soft headrests at abrupt accelerations, the smaller mill this time wasn’t cut to give you that thrill – whether this is okay or not entirely depends on your usage.
The short wheelbase and front-wheel-drive setup have been a great combination for the Brio. It relatively handled corners well, plus, since it weighs just over 950 kilograms, it did so without throwing things around inside the car. Highway drives were composed and stable, while tight space maneuvers weren’t a problem at all. Overall, the Brio felt more balanced than before and performed well on both short and long drives. The front-disc/rear-drum brakes, however, was a bit mushy and needed adjustment for safer halting.
Having a smaller engine has an obvious advantage in terms of fuel efficiency. An hour in heavy city traffic returned 8.7 km/L, while a leisurely Sunday drive at around 60 km/h read back 14.1 km/L. On the highway, I got 20.3 km/L on an average speed of 90 km/h
Take note that the fuel efficiency tests on the new Brio were done with only one occupant inside the car.
It’s hard to deny that the changes on the 2019 Honda Brio made the car a whole lot better than before, making it more appealing to car buyers who want a good-looking vehicle. But the new Brio isn’t just a looker – the entire package makes for a good vehicle, even with all the quirks that it comes with.
Even better, at P742,000 for the RS Blacktop (P737,000 for the non-Blacktop variant) after the recent price increase, the new Brio is still on the right track to provide the best value for your hard-earned money. A complete metamorphosis in just a facelift, I must say, and I can’t wait to see how Honda will re-engineer this car in the future for its full model revamp.