|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
In a word: yes.
If you’re not a sucker for details, you can certainly hit ‘Back’ and look at some other stories because I said what I wanted to say already. However, if you want to see how the Brio Amaze performed, read on.
Arriving in perhaps the most un-photogenic color possible, Marine Purple Pearl (though it looks like black), the Brio Amaze is, well, a car. It’s got four wheels, four doors, and a windshield. Oh, and let’s not forget, differentiating it from the Brio (without the suffix), it’s got a trunk as well. The Brio Amaze doesn’t look like anything else in Honda’s current stable of cars and as such, it’s rounded and cutesy as opposed to angular and angry. There have been genuine attempts to inject some of that Exciting H!!! design, but it’s fairly limited just to the grille. It’s not a parking lot standout, but at least, this made-for-developing markets Honda still looks cohesive throughout. Yes, it’s conservatively designed, but at least, it’s conservatively well-proportioned.
Dig deeper and you begin to realize there’s some rationale behind the Brio Amaze’s design. First, it’s designed for the family-oriented set (read: older) buyer who wants something that’ll still look and fresh even after five years of ownership. Second, it focuses more on aerodynamic efficiency and the complexly-shaped front bumpers and various fins scattered throughout the car validate that. Finally, it’s all about designing a body shell around a spacious interior while keeping a small footprint. And on that note, by simply opening the driver’s door makes me realize: job done, Honda.
The small, compact footprint of the Brio Amaze hides a cavernous interior that’s visually magnified by its two-tone black-and-beige color scheme. When Honda dubbed the Brio Amaze as a “micro limousine”, they certainly nailed it. The “Man Maximum, Machine Minimum” philosophy is at play here and as such, the curvy dashboard is angled upward and slightly canted towards the driver to give him (or her) the best available space while keeping space to a maximum. The Brio Amaze’s four round events are compartmentalized around the driver and front passenger giving it a very sportscar-like feel while the thin center console and triangular placement of the aircon controls free up even more knee space. The two large cup holders and snake’s head shifter are clear nods to the second-generation City from which the Brio Amaze is based off from. Hard plastics are a given in this class and the Brio Amaze is no exception. However, at least the fit and finish are largely top-notch except for the glove box with its pronounced under bite. It doesn’t help that it clearly sags to one side either.
The driver’s seat adjusts in just four directions, but this isn’t a problem since the tilt-adjustable steering column makes up for the limitation in movement. The front headrests don’t adjust either, but at least they have enough height to cover average-sized passengers in case of potential frontal impact and the subsequent whiplash. All-around visibility is excellent thanks to the large greenhouse and large side mirrors. Like the easy yet stylized dashboard, the instrument cluster itself is highly legible with a hint of style. The dials are orange, which are again, very reminiscent of the old Jazz/City (even down to the large central speedometer layout). And despite its classification as an entry-level sedan, the Brio Amaze comes with a multi-function trip computer which is nestled along with the fuel gauge in a LCD display. It also has an ECO light (not ambient) as well. The rear seats are surprisingly large for this size of car, though the seat cushion is a bit short which can impact long-distance touring comfort. Still, it’s got molded headrests and even a rear armrest with cup holders—thing which can’t be said with most cars in this class.
The Brio Amaze is aiming to be the best-in-class in terms of performance, and it that regard, it largely doesn’t disappoint. Whereas its competitors rely on 3-cylinder engines, Honda is going with their tried-and-tested 1.3-liter 4-cylinder i-VTEC found in the previous Jazz/City. In output alone, it pumps out healthy numbers at 100 horses and 127 Nm of torque. Though the row-it-yourself option may entice some buyers, the abundance of traffic and the lack of a dead pedal (foot rest) means it’s actually better to go for the 5-speed automatic.
As expected, it’s refined and can even shame cars a class higher. Off the line, it’s quiet and smooth with ample thrust from the get-go. The drivetrain is hushed and largely unobtrusive, a treat in this class of cars where shortcuts are usually made in areas such as sound deadening. In pure city driving, nothing can beat the Brio Amaze’s level of comfort and refinement. It’s plush, well-balanced, and something you truly imagine living with on a day-to-day basis. It manages to waft through even the deepest of potholes without transmitting unwanted vibrations to the cabin. It returns 10.2 km/L, which isn’t so bad, but not exactly the sort of figures you’d come to expect from a car with a small displacement and great power-to-weight ratio. Thanks to more gears (and displacement) to play with, the Brio Amaze’s much more adept in tackling highways or overtaking maneuvers, though you still do have to squeeze the gas pedal to extract some decent pace. Mileage goes up to a stratospherically high 20.2 km/L on long stretches of open road before settling to a mixed urban/highway figure of 14.8 km/L.
Clearly designed for maximum comfort in city use, the Brio Amaze feels less than perfect at high speed. Though the drivetrain is more that capable of keeping a brisk pace (100 km/h arrives at 2,100 rpm on the tach), the feathery-light steering becomes a handful because of its dead feel and ultra-sensitive near-center response. This makes it a handful to drive because of the continuous minute corrections. It’s as if the Brio Amaze is running on low-profile tires when in fact, it’s rolling on 65-series rubber. What’s more, the ultra-soft suspension makes it understeer through even the slightest curve or corner. Care must be exercised when pushing the Brio Amaze. At 100 km/h, there’s noticeable tire noise and almost uncomfortable levels of wind noise near the side mirrors (despite the aerodynamic fin). Thankfully, the brakes are very Honda-like in that they are excellently modulated with good bite.
Honda has always been considered as an engineering-centric company, and this extends to its entire product portfolio, including the Brio Amaze. With this car, they didn’t simply want to do a ‘me to’. Instead, they’ve successfully designed a small car that pretty much lives up to everything the company set out to do. At P 769,000, it certainly isn’t that affordable, but after driving one for a week, I immediately knew where that extra money went. Despite some small kinks here and there, the Brio Amaze is one well-thought of, well-engineered car. It certainly won’t be the sales volume leader out there, but for those who buy cars using taste and sophistication as basis, you need not look further than the Brio Amaze.
2015 Honda Brio Amaze 1.3V
|Ownership||2015 Honda Brio Amaze 1.3V A/T|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Normally Aspired, EFI|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||100 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||127 @ 4,800|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||990|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Michelin Energy MX2 175/65R14T (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||No|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||4|
|Steering Wheel Controls||No|