Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review: 2015 Honda Brio Amaze 1.3V A/T

Photos by Ulysses Ang
I’ve driven it around Tagaytay Highlands. I’ve driven it around Bicol. You think I’ve said everything I could say about the Honda Brio Amaze, but I was wrong. This time, I bring Honda’s wonder sedan through its toughest test yet: the streets of Manila. This time, there’s no pre-determined route, no performance test, no fuel economy run, no media junket. For one week, it’s just me and the Brio Amaze. Can it transform my perceptions on what an entry-level sedan should be?

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
Year Introduced 2014
Vehicle Classification Sub-Compact
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.3
Aspiration Normally Aspired, EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 100 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 127 @ 4,800
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 5AT
Cruise Control No
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 3,990
Width (mm) 1,680
Height (mm) 1,485
Wheelbase (mm) 2,405
Curb Weight (kg) 990
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Michelin Energy MX2 175/65R14T (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights No
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat No
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control No
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 4
Steering Wheel Controls No


  1. It always irked me how all cars in this segment have these generic cutesy bubbly crap design. Even Honda fell victim to this fad. What the hell were the designers thinking?! They could have at least make it look like a mini City/Jazz.

  2. Sticks out like a sore thumb on honda's line up. It should be priced a lot lower since it knocks on the city's entry price point and the city is head and shoulders better than the brio amaze.

  3. Well it's not the worst at least.

  4. 769k for friggn Brio?!? This car was meant to compete with Suzuki Dzire. WTF Honda!

    1. Yes. At that price I'd get the base model Honda City. Bigger engine, bigger interior space, and most of all, better looking.

  5. Hatch is alright but this sedan is very wrong.

  6. Uso Ngayon ang Ford Fiesta at Suzuki Dzire na ginagawang TAXI.

    1. Eh ano namang connection nun dito sa review? Napaka nonsense ng sinabi mo.

  7. For a single mom like me with 2 kids which small car is better? A wigo? An amaze? A Yaris? Or Eco sport base level?

    1. i think this one will greatly fit you with your children.. but if you are looking for a bigger car you may want to look at a 1.3 Yaris.. wigo is way smaller specially in specs.. the eco sports on the other hand is also a good buy but at a more higher price range..

  8. We are looking forward for the review of the honda brio 1.3S and Brio Amaze 1.3E manual models.. :)

  9. Thanks @tiano ayan

  10. Been driving the S variant for two months now.

    Chose it over the Wigo, Mirage and Grand i10 due to its engine (4 cylinder, 1.3l, means multi-role), carrying capacity (starting a family with baby on the way, 400l trunk) and brand. The most affordable 1.3l engine in A/T I think. (A/T a big plus in city driving, plus wife wants to drive)

    My average consumption is 9 km/l, Daily drive from Makati to QC, in heavy rush hour traffic. Sunday evening on the Skyway yields 19 km/l. Struggling a bit when going uphill, need to floor the pedal to keep up with uphill traffic.

    Interior very spacious (more than a Vios), no-nonsense and minimalist. Beige color looks elegant I think. Exterior looks unique and stands out in the parking lot.

    Happy and satisfied since. Not perfect but gets the job done and more. Pricier, but you get the safety features consistent across the range and the Honda quality. I think its perfect for those starting a family.

    1. thanks for sharing this info on fuel efficiency

  11. Hi. For anyone who's tried the Amaze Manual (E M/T) can you give me a feedback regarding fuel efficiency? How does it compare with Accent and Vios?
    I would greatly appreciate the feedback.

  12. I believe the Accent's got the Amaze and Vios beat, due to its CRDI diesel engine. Advertised fuel efficiency for the Accent diesel is +/-50km/l (perhaps about 20km/l in real-life?) Petrol engines such as those of the Amaze and Vios, can only hope to match the 20km/l at best.

    I've driven both Amaze and Vios, but only in A/T. The Amaze A/T is 5-speed, so I don't think the difference vs M/T in fuel consumption is considerable (+/-9km/l in city rush hour traffic). The Vios A/T however, only gets a 4-speed, so the difference vs M/T might be more pronounced. (+/-8km/l)

    The Accent, I believe, has a 6-speed M/T (I remember from a taxi I once rode)

  13. Is it true that these cars have an electronic speed limiter that limits the top speed at 140 km/hr?

  14. hi. can anyone help me to compare the these cars? im going to buy today or this week.
    Honda amaze Navi AT / Mazda 2 sedan 1.5L V skyactiv / Honda City E CVT
    i really need your help. coz i've been comparing both for months already. and talked to their agents.. i was going to buy the Amaze but they texted me that the marine Purple they promised is now phase out. tnx

    1. sorry for the "both" part... i've been comparing Amaze and Mazda.

    2. If you have a family, go for the City because it's spacious for many occupants. If it's just for your daily commute, get the Honda Brio Amaze or the Mazda 2. If you want good driving dynamics and a nice interior, go for the Mazda 2. If you're looking for a utilitarian vehicle to get the job done correctly and have some occupants from time to time, choose the Brio Amaze.

  15. Hello gusto lang sana mag.tanong if the honda brio amaze can withstand flash flood in metro manila?

    1. It can. But like any other passenger car, it's not recommended to wade it through floods.

  16. How does the Amaze compare to Mirage G4 GLS?

  17. i own a brio AT since feb 2015..top gears review are all correct mdyo tlagang mabitin k if my mabagal s unahan that u like to pass ksi AT nga dw..1 concern ln po, i notice when im braking the seemingly knocking sound about mga 8 knoch before it fade which i think is not normal ..this was corrected already when it was checked during its 1st 1000km..and now it appears again that irritating knocking sound when im braking...what the hell is that HONDA pls? ur service center mechanic does not explain this, are they prohibited to tell to the owner why that noticeable thing happened.

  18. I drive an Amaze on the nlex every day and you won't be disappointed with the speed it can muster. City driving is no hassle either. One thing though, the suspension sometimes gives a loud thud even if the bump is miniscule.

  19. you will amaze by it's performance. I love this car :)

  20. Im driving a Brio Amaze its sleek and compact just enough for a mom with 2 teen agers. Its fuel efficient too. One reason I chose this Amaze is its short just enough to fit our garage and Honda cars are not meant to be a taxi. The space and volume content of the hood is just right too especially whenever we go home in the province.