Honda's latest attempt at making a small car for India seems to be even more "enthusiastic" compared to its last 'jazzy' entry. We get behind the wheel of this spirited little hatchback to find out whether the Brio hits the right spot
Let’s get one thing out of the way – Honda makes great cars. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. But of course, it’s not so difficult to make good cars, even great ones, which start at double-digit lakh prices. Bring that figure down to half that, and you’ll see that it’s not such an easy task. Not that auto makers in India fail at this task, but just that the competition this down the order is far more cut throat and to stand out against the established competition is a fairly monumental task. Honda managed to burn, or let’s say slightly singe its fingers with the Jazz – a car which proved that you can have one of the best products in this hotly contested segment, and yet fail to make waves if the pricing is not right.
Honda did correct this factor eventually, with a significantly revised pricing for this wonderfully equipped and rather generously sized hatch, and boy did that do wonders for its sales. So with that lesson firmly in mind, Honda wasn’t about to put out a repeat performance when coming up with an entry level hatchback which would go head to head against established hot sellers such as the Hyundai i10 and the lot. Now Honda does have a lot riding on this little car, given the fact that the entry and mid-order hatchback segments account for most to the top selling cars in India. Also given the fact that Honda has a fairly small product portfolio in India, it becomes even more critical to get each car right. But as we’ve said before, Honda never gets its products wrong, and this fact couldn’t be better iterated after you take a look at the new Brio.
The outside story
The Brio certainly is a looker. In this segment where classical designs are more appreciated than anything radical, the Brio has everything working in its favour. While it doesn’t have the sharp, funky lines of its rival, the Chevrolet Beat, or the radical futuristic styling of its elder sibling, the Jazz, it still manages to stand out in a crowd quite easily. The well proportioned stance with short overhangs is something that really gives the car a dynamic look. While Honda’s designers might want to describe the styling as 'double triangle' or the like in the language only automobile designers can speak and very few apart from their ilk can understand, what is clear to understand is that the Brio does look like it’s moving forward at a good clip even when its standing still, especially when viewed bang-on from the side.
This is accentuated by the slashed crease just below the shoulder line and a parallel crease near the bottom of the car. Then there is there is a wide stance with its flared wheel arches, reminiscent of more sporty cars which really improves the appeal by leaps and bounds. This wider track combined with the car's relatively short wheelbase of 2,345mm as well as the lack of overhangs at either end, and the Brio comes across as a little rally car that would be more at home spewing dust on special stages rather than pootling about town. The front of the car bears the typical Honda traits that we’ve come to accept now, such as the large ‘H’ badge on the grille.
Then there is the rear of the car. Now most people, especially after looking at the pictures, might say that the all-glass tailgate with the small, sharp clear glass taillights, looks strange. One might even be forgiven for thinking this, as pictures really don’t do it justice. But one look at that rump in the flesh is enough to convince you of how wrong you were. The thick black accents on the glass tail-gate combined with the round lights inside the clear-glass taillight cluster give it the look of a cartoon character from traditional Japanese anime. It makes the car look especially cute and endearing when looked at from the rear angle, and it is probably the most instantly recognisable backside on any Indian hatchback at the moment.
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