Honda Brio: An Afforable Hatch
With the introduction of the bright and bold new Brio, Honda Motor Southern Africa offers an exciting and affordable alternative in the entry level hatchback market.
The stylish and nimble Brio, aimed at the younger first-time car buyer, fits in below the Jazz in the local Honda model line-up and will be available in both manual and automatic in Comfort trim specification with service plan as standard.
The Brio's name was derived from the Italian word for "verve", "vigour", "cheerfulness" and "energy". This aptly describes Honda's first entry into the growing and increasingly important segment which will allow budget-conscious buyers to experience the brand's famed product quality, driving dynamics, fuel-efficiency, spaciousness and safety in a new and affordable package.
The Brio was first shown in prototype form at the Thailand International Motor Expo in November 2010, having been developed specifically with the needs of fast-growing markets in Southeast Asia and other developing regions in mind.
Speaking at the world premiere of the Brio prototype the CEO of Honda, Takanobu Ito, emphasised the importance of this model in Honda's "strong passion to reach a wider customer base for our products and services".
"We would like to expand the joy of owning vehicles to more and more customers by introducing an affordable, small sized vehicle," he said. "To accomplish this we have focused on creating an attractive package at an affordable price."
DEVELOPMENT AND EXTERIOR DESIGN
For the designers and engineers it was quite a challenge to realise Honda's ideal of combining affordability and utility with excitement, stylishness and visual appeal. Pooling all Honda's resources in Europe and Asia the designers came up with the Double Triangle design form.
This Double Triangle form conveys verve, vigour and vibrant energy from nose to tail, emphasizing the Brio's wide stance and sleek lines. The Dynamic Triangle, focused on the nose, sweeps forward, while the Sporty Triangle, focused on the rear fender, jumps rearward.
Overlapping, yet shifting fore and aft, these two sections establish an energetic and vibrant side view that conveys forward motion, simply and effectively realising the Brio's exterior design aim of fun and excitement.
A feeling of spaciousness that makes a car seem roomier than it actually is, as well as a feel of quality that makes the owner proud are design qualities that appeal to everyone, regardless of age, gender or nationality.
Focusing on these global values and the local, practical needs of customers in developing countries the design theme for the Brio's interior was to unify physical and psychological space.
This is in line with the concept of "man maximum, machine minimum" - A design philosophy that states that people are the centre of the design and that the technology must be built around the needs of humans.
This philosophy was taken to a practical level with the approach to design calling for maximising the space available for people through minimising the space required for mechanical components without compromise to quality and safety.
However, the Brio's interior design takes this concept to a new level, literally by dispensing with everything that is unnecessary. For example, the instrument panel was developed from an extremely simple structure with functional parts grouped together and other surfaces reduced to a minimum.
It also creates a feeling of spaciousness for the front occupants, while the minimising of the door interiors and the slender lower part of the instrument panel creates more physical space for their knees and feet.
The specially designed glove compartment gives ample storage space and the slender seatbacks with integrated headrests result in more legroom for the rear occupants.
An open, spacious interior is not the only element that characterises the design of Honda vehicles. Honda also aims to provide the driver with an exceptionally enjoyable driving experience.
To this end a cockpit with concentrated controls and a quality feel was created for the Brio. Triple three-dimensional meters with floating graduations and orange illuminated rings add a sporty and refined touch.
With a move in the market to digital music, special attention was paid to the look and feel of the audio controls. Unified in appearance with the instrument panel, the silver and lustrous black controls offer an advanced and elegant feel.
CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION
The Brio's compact body size - it is 3610 mm long, 1680 mm wide and 1500 mm tall - and its small turning radius of only 4,8m helps to make it extremely nippy and nimble in congested city traffic.
Its relatively long wheelbase of 2345 mm, proven McPherson-strut suspension in the front and H-shaped torsion beam rear suspension gives the Brio excellent road holding and a stable, comfortable ride, while the speed sensitive Electric Power Steering ensures easy steering at low speeds - ideal for city driving - and stability at higher speeds for stress-free motoring.
DRIVETRAIN AND DYNAMICS
While particular emphasis is placed on affordability and value with the Brio, it still retains the Honda brand's key virtues. Advanced technology is epitomised by the sprightly 1,2-litre i-VTEC engine, new to South Africa, which delivers both sparkling performance and frugal fuel economy.
The latest-generation four-cylinder unit employs intelligent, electronically controlled variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder to produce a lively 65 kW of power at 6 000 r/min, and 109 Nm of torque at 4 500 r/min - good enough to propel the manual version to 100 km/h in just over 12 seconds.
The advanced power plant also gives the Brio excellent fuel economy (combined figures of 5,6 litres/100 km for the manual and 6,3 litres/100 km for the auto) while engine emissions meets the stringent Euro 4 standards.
From launch the Brio will be offered with a choice of 5-speed manual and automatic gearboxes (the first model in its class to boast a 5-speed auto 'box). The manual transmission's optimised gear ratios ensure excellent low rpm acceleration and smooth high rpm performance, making the Brio enjoyable and fun to drive.
The compact 5-speed automatic transmission with torque converter has a drive-by-wire system for smooth gear operation, as well as Grade Logic Control and Shift Hold Control to allow gearshifts in response to speed, load and other relevant driving conditions.
SAFETY AND TECHNOLOGY
Quality and reliability are further Honda hallmarks proudly incorporated into the new Brio. Despite its entry-level positioning, the compact hatch employs latest-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) to deliver a robust structure in terms of both safety and durability.
Incorporating Honda's G-CON (G-Force Control Technology), the Brio's high-performance body makes extensive use of high tensile steel in key areas of the frame, while the front body structure is equipped with pedestrian injury mitigation technology designed to absorb impact energy.
The Brio features active and passive safety technologies including dual SRS front airbags, Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), front pretensioner seat belts with load limiters.
TRIM AND SPECIFICATION
Brio models destined for South Africa are manufactured at the Greater Noida facility of Honda Cars India Limited (HCIL) and in the last year more than 25 000 Brio's have been sold in India and Thailand.
South African Brio models will have a high specification level compared to their competitors. Besides the safety features already mentioned, creature comforts such as steering mounted audio control, four speakers, electric front and rear windows with auto down for the driver and electric side mirrors are all standard.
With their Comfort level specification the two models also have manual air-conditioning as standard, headlight off and ignition key off reminder, a day/night rear view mirror, a passenger vanity mirror, an audio system with USB and Aux inputs as well as remote central locking and an immobiliser.
The Brio will be available with six exterior colours, including Taffeta White and Rally Red, with metallic paint options being Energetic Blue, Alabaster Silver, Urban Titanium and Crystal Black.
Yoshiaki Nakamura, managing director of Honda Motor Southern Africa, says Honda is extremely excited to offer the new Honda Brio to South African and Southern African customer.