When you sit inside the Brio for the first time, you will be pleasantly surprised with the interior quality. For a <5 lakh rupee hatchback, the interiors feel really good & are well-screwed together. There is no hint of cost cutting, be it the plastics, fit, finish or the seat fabric. Obviously, there is no soft touch dashboard in here, yet the interiors feel better than most other cars from the segment.
Whatever cost cutting is there, it is not that obvious. Inside the seat back pocket, you'll find soft textured material. The rear bottle-holder (between the front seats) has a small carpet on its base. GTO had driven the Toyota Liva a month back, and he commented that the interiors don't feel anywhere as built to a cost as the Liva's. I really liked the seat fabric; the cushioning was rather decent and you could easily pass it off in a C segment sedan.
The Indian Brio gets a black & beige color combination, unlike the Thai version and its full beige effect. The color palette is similar to other Hondas sold in India. It's not perfect though; the chocolate brown color accents (a la Hyundai i10) on the center console & door armrests look completely out of place. Also, the Brio's body colour is prominently exposed on the front door pockets & the rear door panel! Honda say they did this intentionally as a design touch, but it doesn't work for me at all.
For an entry level Honda, it has stylish door open levers (silver aluminium finish for the V variant, beige for the lower variants). The V variant gets beige carpeting, while the lower variants get black.The dashboard looks basic for the most part. It isn't very deep like in other cab forward designs. Strangely, the stereo is positioned and angled towards the front passenger, and away from the driver.
If there is any variant without steering mounted audio controls, then it's an area of complaint. As is typical with Honda cars, most buttons are from the XL size parts bin, including those for the stereo and air-conditioner. Even the outdated fresh air <-> recirculate lever is big. If you have driven a Honda City before, you will find familiarity with the meter fonts & their orange illumination.
The meter cluster stays illuminated during the day and is very easy to read on the go. The basic MID only displays trip meter info and average fuel consumption.The steering is a standard 3 spoke design, unlike the Jazz & the City whose wheels are Civic-inspired. The Brio's steering is small in size and wonderful to hold. It doesn't get leather cladding, yet the soft touch rubber feels high quality too.
There is no driver seat height adjustment, not even on the top end V variant. This is a feature that women in particular are drawn to. The seats are placed on the lower side (this is no tallboy hatchback) and you will have to sit down on the seat. The A pillar is thick, but doesn't obstruct visibility that much, partly due to the low positioning of the ORVMs (wing mirrors). All round visibility is top notch, further aided by the huge greenhouse.
Shorter drivers, though, will miss seat height adjustment on the low-set seat, and will have to crane their necks from time to time. The rear hatch is a full glass unit, thus you can literally look down on the road behind you. Reversing is a breeze; stones or a footpath right behind won't pose any issue. The ORVMs are decently sized and have a wide field of vision. The interior mirror, on the other hand, is narrower than I usually prefer.
The front seats have phenomenal knee room, thanks to the large travel range of the seats and scooped in dashboard. Plus, with the huge front windows, the cabin feels very airy. The front seats have integrated neck restraints (cost-cutting). They reasonably protrude out so, you can comfortably rest your head on them from time to time. The thin front seats also get nice lateral support by hatchback standards.
There is no seatbelt height adjustment, a feature even the Maruti Ritz offers.The Brio's interiors are compact and about the same size as the outgoing Swift. No, it's no Toyota Liva or even a Ford Figo inside. While the front passengers have adequate space (as is the case with most cars), the back seat is only suited to medium-sized adults. Two on the back is okay, while a third certainly isn't. Space at the rear is strictly average, and can at best be termed "adequate" by city hatchback standards.
It's compact, yet more than you'd expect of a car with such a short wheelbase thanks to the packaging. Honda has tried it's best to squeeze out room the best it could; this is evident everywhere, right from the scooped dashboard (front passenger knee room is A+) to the thin & contoured front seat-back design (to maximise whatever space is available to rear benchers). The rear seat also appears to be pushed far back, clearly prioritising room over boot space.
The end result is a cabin that can hold 4, but not a comfortable five like some larger hatchbacks. Also, the rear seat back is too short and tall passengers will inevitably find the (soft) rear headrests to be placed too low. If you are sitting straight on the rear seat, a 5'10" guy has about 2 inches clearance between the head and roof. But if you rest your head on the neck restraint, you will have a mere 2 cms of clearance from the roof.
The rear windows are noticeably smaller than the ones at the front. On the positive side, the rear floor hump is marginal (probably an inch in height) and not massive like in the Polo. The rear door armrest is small and should serve the purpose for short commutes. The back bench overall is like that of any other compact city hatchback; don't expect Vista-like comfort or space. As the seat is pushed back, access is made easier since the distance between the B Pillar & the seat is more than in most other hatchbacks.
It was mentioned in the pre-launch Brio thread that the Thai version does not get a heater and front windshield defogger. Well, the Indian Brio has both. Because we tested the car on a cloudy day, we cannot really comment on the effectiveness of the A/C. All the four rotary A/C vents can be adjusted in any way you like. They also have a full close function which, unfortunately, doesn't really shut them airtight.
Some amount of cool air still finds its way through.There is a reasonable amount of storage space in here. The glove box size is par for the course (although the XL size lid would have you believe otherwise), and the front door pockets are wide. They can hold 1 litre bottles too. Two large cup-holders are placed right ahead of the gear lever, with another storage cubicle thrown in. Rear benchers get a large bottle holder / storage cubicle (between the front seats) and two seat back pockets, but no door pockets.
The small sized boot won't really accommodate your out-of-town luggage, especially if the wife doesn't pack light. The load bay is rather high, and the boot runs deep inside. Thus, you'll have to "pick up" luggage items and then place them down. The rear seat can be folded to create more space when the flexibility is required. No, there is no split folding option or the Jazz' magic seats. The all-glass hatch results in your luggage being clearly visible from the outside.
A parcel tray is a must.High quality steering is fabulous to hold:Easy-to-read dial arrangement. Brown accents look tacky in an otherwise classy colour palette:Jazz' golf ball gearshift knob. Lots of part sharing with other Hondas:Thin front seats offer decent support, especially lateral. Integrated neck restraints are a cost cutting measure:Just like the City, the Brio's stereo has no CD player. Choose from USB, AUX or FM.
USB cable is placed near the front cup holders, while the Aux-in is located on the HU itself. Fitting an after-market head unit will not require a dash kit. Sound quality is pretty good for a small car. Steering mounted audio controls are standard on the S and V variants:No climate control on the City or Jazz, thus we didn't expect it on the Brio either. Slider for recirculate <-> fresh air mode feels too outdated:Between the recirculate <-> fresh air slider is a light that illuminates the front cup holder area:Wheel well has adequate width.
No dead pedal though:Stylish door panel, save for the (hideous) exposed body colour inside the pockets:Wing mirrors offer a good field of view......interior mirror not so. I'd prefer a size wider:Chunky control stalks exude quality:Chrome-ringed air vents look classy. When fully shut, well, they aren't! Some amount of cool air still finds its way through:Regular sized glove compartment:2 cup-holders & a storage cubicle ahead of the gear lever:The rear bottle holder has a carpet for a base! Neat:Limited rear bench space is similar to that of most other compact cars.
Notice how the front seat backs are angled in:Floor hump is marginal in size:Wide gap (between the seat & B-Pillar) makes for easier entry / exit:Small 175L boot runs deep:Rear seat can be folded away for those airport runs:No, the spare isn't an alloy wheel: Last edited by GTO : 27th September 2011 at 18:26. Reason: Minor typosSee Also: Brio White Peach Sangria Recipe
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The Honda City's 5-speed Automatic is a competent gearbox. Plonking this transmission into the agile & peppy Brio seems like a good recipe. It definitely sounds more exciting than the "geared for economy" CVT offered in the Thai-spec Brio. Compared to the Brio MT, the AT's turning radius has increased by 0.2 meters, due to the wider track needed for accommodating the AT gearbox. The box wasn't originally designed for the Brio; this combination is available only in India.
There are no changes to the Brio's beige & black interiors, save for the AT gear shifter, missing clutch pedal and gear mode display on the instrument console. The Brio doesn't have a dead pedal, something that should have been in the "must-have" list for engineers. Still, there is sufficient space for your left foot, and the floor is nicely contoured as well. The ergonomics are top notch overall.
Only thing I really missed was the driver's seat height adjustment. There is definitely a compromise with this "one size fits all" approach and I found the seat to be a tad too high for my taste. Those with a shorter build will be happy though. The chunky steering wheel has no leather cladding, yet the choice of material is good.Expectedly, the gearbox doesn't get the City's paddle shifters. The AT has a standard P-R-N-D layout, along with the old school D3-2-1 modes to compensate for the absence of tiptronic.
The gearshift knob is carried over from the Honda Civic, which is surely better than the plain-jane piece of the City. Note that the gear modes aren't illuminated at night.The Brio's 1.2L i-VTEC engine is rated at 87 BHP (@ 6,000 rpm) and 109 Nm of torque (@ 4,500 rpm). The powerplant starts with the now familiar sounding note. Within the first few meters itself, I could feel the extra support from the torque converter.
Low end response is stronger than in the Brio MT, the engine now pulling with a certain amount of eagerness. With light accelerator inputs, upshifts are pretty early @ 2,000 rpm. Prod the accelerator some more and you'll see the gearbox moving up at 3,000 rpm. Along with light controls, good visibility and a short turning radius, the Brio AT is absolutely effortless to drive in dense city traffic.
The gearshifts are acceptably smooth, though you still know when the gearbox is moving up or down. Crawling in traffic, even without any accelerator input, the Brio AT moves with a lot more pace than is normal. In a gridlock, you'll need to generously apply the brakes to keep crawling speeds in check.The ratios are smartly chosen for this 1.2L engine. The initial 3 gears are quite short, while the 4th & 5th are tall.
Out on the open road with a heavy right foot, the gearbox responds well. Shift times are good and the Brio holds gears to the redline. The AT is quick to respond to any inputs from the accelerator pedal. Acceleration is satisfactory, though of course, the Brio AT is nowhere as quick as its MT sibling. One area of disappointment is the NVH at high rpms; the engine & drivetrain sound more stressed and unrefined, compared to the Brio MT.
It's only when you start driving with medium accelerator inputs that you start discovering the gearbox' shortcomings. With the accelerator pressed halfway, the otherwise well-sorted transmission ends up feeling puzzled. You'll frequently find it revving the engine by holding onto a gear unnecessarily, or upshifting when the same isn't required. I had to make the Brio AT upshift at times by releasing the accelerator pedal and, conversely, pressing it a little harder to drop a gear.
The Brio AT felt perfectly at home cruising on the Greater Noida Expressway at 100 kph. The engine was spinning at a relaxed 2,100 rpm, with the car feeling perfectly planted. 5th gear is a lot taller than on the Brio MT which sees 100 kph @ 3,000 rpm. Highway fuel economy should be satisfactory. Just like the Brio MT, the AT's top speed is electronically limited to 140 kph. When cruising on the highway, I missed paddle shifters the most, as I couldn't figure out a way to accelerate in the same gear; even the slightest pedal pressure makes the gearbox drop a gear, when it could very well have accelerated in the same gear.
The go-kart like agile handling remains the same, along with a quick & reasonably direct (albeit over-servo'ed!) steering. You can have a whole lot of fun throwing the Brio into corners. The weakest link is the tyres that start protesting early in the game. The suspension set-up remains similar to the MT variant we tested last year, with the same uncomfortable rear suspension on bad roads. High speed composure for such a small car is impressive.
Last edited by GTO : 1st April 2013 at 22:04. Reason: Max torque made at 4,500 rpm