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September 24, 2019

Review: 2019 Honda Brio 1.2 V CVT

As the smallest car in the Honda line-up, the Brio arrived without much ado, but with all the makings of a traffic stopper. Primarily because of its bright, canary yellow color, but also because of its immediate no-nonsense appeal. Rather than the Jazz, which is closer to its size, it gives off a more conservative vibe that is like their elder—the Honda CR-V. The similarities are astounding and the imagery is similar—practical, reliable, but also sporty and a risk-taker. While it’s far from perfect, the Brio is one to love and may, perhaps, become your next favorite ride.

The minute the Brio arrived in our driveway, there was instant attraction. Apart from the cheery color, what made the car appealing was its friendly design. Unlike the Jazz, whose appeal lies in its sporty heritage, the Brio is more like the CR-V—that familiar childhood best friend all grown up, but still ready to take on memory lane on any given day. The familiarity starts from its boxy front side with the rounded, slightly jutting bumper. This design is proportioned all the way to its wide window frames, ending at its rounded hatchback. Overall, you are looking at a look that is basic and young, but sporty.

If there was anything that I would improve in terms of design, it would be the 14-inch alloy wheels. While the Brio was clearly made to be an entry-level model in its category, the stock design does not do justice to the youthfulness of vehicle. In fact, to the more discerning car owner, nevermind age, it may be one of the first things to upgrade as soon as the car rolls out of the dealership.

The interior of the Brio is as basic as basic gets, with the plastic finish of the dashboard and the fabric upholstery of the seats. It’s all very well-made, however, and the interior layout holds true to the signature practicality of every Honda vehicle. Each control point is in its proper and predictable place, right down to the 7-inch infotainment system that is built with a USB charging port, and sits atop the climate control switches. Again, there is next to nothing special in the looks department, precisely because what is extraordinary lies in the car’s practical features.

Practical is an understatement for the Brio as this little car proved to have quite the capacity in both seating and cargo. Starting with the front row, there is little to no cramping for the driver. The height of the vehicle makes ingress and egress smooth and easy, although the seat’s angling toward the backside could get uncomfortable in long drives. Legroom is generous, both toward the front and sideways—wiggle room for the backside is always a plus, as this extends all the way up to shoulder support, allowing the driver to have a more supple seated posture. The passenger, on the other hand, enjoys even more comfort, with the ability to do a full leg stretch at its maximum length.

Moving on to the second row, the Brio can easily seat three petite individuals or two average Filipino males. Even with the front row seats extended halfway, passengers in the back seat can have a good leg angle despite the seemingly small cabin. This makes it perfect for small group outings and a regular city commute.

Seating is one thing, but cargo is another. Surprisingly, this compact-looking Brio can hold more than just daily baggage. With the back seat folded up, 258 liters of hold can fit just about 2 carry-ons and a duffel bag. But with the seats folded down, cargo space triples to 710 liters. To get a better perspective, I was able to transport a full-sized terrarium. Granted, there won’t be any excess space left, nor room for backseat passengers, but that’s quite a tall order that a compact car was able to fulfill.

With every Honda, there is a certain expectation when it comes to performance. The Brio did not disappoint. Having gone through most of the new vehicles under the Honda product range, it can stand up to its brothers, like the Jazz and the Civic. Sure, it lacks that sporty appeal and the punch, but even on just a 1.2-liter engine, it was torquey and can manuever well through the city streets. Clearly, it could use more power. Even with a peppy engine, it was challenging to climb up steeper parking ramps, the likes of Greenbelt 3. However, what it lacked in power, it made up for in a smooth driving experience. The steering was light and easy and the responsiveness was pure Honda. It won’t win any trophies, but it will safely take you where you need to go.

The Honda Brio was a refreshing surprise. While there wasn’t much to see at first, considering that it was not even on an electronic start/stop engine, it proved to have more to offer than a bright exterior. Coming from a week’s worth of bonding, I conclude that this was a car made with the urban dweller in mind, more than a long road traveler.

Words and photos by Gen Tiu.

2019 Honda Brio 1.2 V
Ownership 2019 Honda Brio 1.2 V CVT
Year Introduced 2019
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Car
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Hatchback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.2
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 90 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 110 @ 4,800
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed --
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 3,800
Width (mm) 1,680
Height (mm) 1,485
Wheelbase (mm) 2,405
Curb Weight (kg) 969
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Dunlop Enasave EC300+ 175/65 R 14 T (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors No
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 2, 2-pt Lap Belt x 1
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 4-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Proximity Key No
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 4
Steering Controls Yes

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