GOOD things come in small packages, and Honda is proving the cliché as it sets to bring out its Brio and Brio Amaze models.
Honda Cars Phils. Inc. (HCPI) last week teased the pair of the soon-to-be-released mini cars through a brief driving activity. To underscore the cars’ advantages, these were pitted against the very models they aim to topple from the country’s best-selling perches—the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 sedan and Toyota Wigo hatchback.
Pitched as the Brio’s, a five-door hatchback, and the Brio Amaze’s, a four-door sedan, biggest advantage is their four-cylinder engine, which puts one pot more over the three-cylinder mills powering the Mirage and Wigo. While the Brio also gets a three-pot, 1.2-liter engine in some markets, like Thailand, the model that upon its release would turn out to be HCPI’s littlest runs on the proven 1.3-liter, i-VTEC engine that powered the second-generation Honda Jazz. Rated at 99hp and 127Nm, this bolts to an equally still-advanced transmission; a five-speed automatic.
During the Brio’s driving activity, held on the vast grounds of an upscale residential and golfing community in Tagaytay City, only the automatic-transmission variants of the cars were available, but it’s safe to assume the five-speed manual gearbox that came with the previous-gen Jazz will also be offered in both Brios.
On account of its lesser dimensions compared to the Jazz—it’s significantly 345 millimeters shorter, 15 millimeters narrower and 40 millimeters lower—plus the smaller engine, the Brio slots below the Jazz and the Honda City sedan in HCPI’s product range. So while no prices have been released just yet, it’s safe to assume the Brio and Brio Amaze will become the entryway into the Honda brand
The Brio does not share the Jazz’s innovative multiconfigurable rear seat, instead getting a simple one that has a seatback that folds down to the floor. But the Brio pair brought out for the driving gig were fitted with pricey items like touch-screen multimedia with steering wheel controls, keyless entry, power socket, dual airbags, fog lamps, tailgate spoiler and Honda’s eco driving indicator. The cars roll on 14-inch alloy wheels.
Set to be launched at the Philippine International Motor Show, scheduled from September 18 to 21, the Brio is seen to bolster HCPI’s sales which, according to company president Toshio Kuwahara, stood at 1,353 units in July and 7,068 vehicles in the first seven months of the year.
Kuwahara noted that HCPI has managed to log strong figures despite the company not having a seven-seat, diesel-powered vehicle to offer the market.
But the country’s low-cost, mini hatchback segment has also exploded in the last two years. From a 5,861-unit annual tally in 2011, sales jumped to 15,516 units in 2013—or more than a 200-percent growth. This means that from a 3.6-percent slice of the total industry sales of 165,000 vehicles in 2011, low-cost hatchbacks comprised 7.4 percent of the 208,500 vehicles sold last year. This year the segment continues its staggering growth as, according to HCPI, around 3,000 mini cars are sold in the country every month.
The rise is apparently not lost to HCPI, which recognizes that mini cars like the Brio and Brio Amaze are the wave of the present.