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Sunday, November 5, 2023

5 Reasons Why The Honda City And Brio Deserve A Look

Admit it: we rarely get excited when it comes to entry-level motoring. Sure enough, they’re often dismissed as mere appliances on wheels—they get you from Point A to Point B fine, but they do so without raising the pulse. However, if there’s one carmaker that goes against the grain, it’s Honda.

With the Brio and City, Honda manages to bring their unmistakable brand DNA—a fun-to-drive character coupled with strong environmental performance even to their two most affordable offerings. Although they’re not exactly the cheapest models in their respective segments, they do come across as solid value-for-money choices, especially when you’re looking for a great first car. Here are five reasons why these two Hondas deserve a closer look next time you find yourself shopping for a brand-new car.

#1. Built for the daily drive

Fuel efficiency is once again in the spotlight when it comes to a new car. It’s a very important consideration not just because of pump prices per se, but also because of Manila’s horrendous traffic. And while other cookie cutter sub-compacts have dreary drivetrains, both the Brio and the City have an impeccable package.

The Brio currently has the largest engine in its class. The 1.2-liter SOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine produces class-above power at 90 horsepower and 110 Nm. This makes it an excellent punter around the city, but still confident enough to hit expressways. Getting most out of the engine requires wringing the accelerator, but the engine’s smooth even at high rpms. In our experience, a mixed city and highway run returned about 12.9 km/L on Petron XCS—a solid figure.

Meanwhile, there’s the City and its 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine. Despite having the most powerful in its class (121 horsepower), excitement isn’t its middle name. Instead, it’s all about sensible motoring. And like the Brio, the overall mechanical polish is good. Despite the bigger body and engine, the City almost matches its smaller sibling fuel economy-wise thanks to a dedicated “ECON” mode. With it, fuel economy figures go up to 11.6 km/L; without it, it goes down slightly to 10.6 km/L, both also done on Petron XCS. Either way, it makes the City one of the most fuel efficient sub-compacts available out there.

#2: Solid amount of in-car tech

Who says convenience technology should be limited to vehicles costing a million pesos and more? With the newest Brio and City, Honda has put emphasis on improving creature comfort features, particularly in the realm of connectivity.

Starting with the Brio, Honda has finally given it Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but with a caveat. The 7-inch Kenwood system isn’t the best looking nor the most high-res, but it gets the job 75 percent of the time. The CarPlay tray icons are on the wrong side (they’re on the right instead of the left), indicating the head unit’s made for right-hand drive markets. Generally, this is a non-issue because reaching for the icons on the far side of the screen is easy enough given the Brio’s modestly-sized interior, but somehow it interferes with the usability of some apps. For example with Waze, the “Route” and “Report” icons aren’t responsive. Weird.

On other fronts, the Brio does get some updates for 2024. The Brio RS, for example, gets standard LED headlights and fog lights now. It’s a small detail, but helps lend it a more technically superior feel. If we’d be totally honest, we would have wanted additional features for this P 853,000 model; features like a rear parking camera and a push-start system.

Thankfully, there are no major issues with the City. With the 2024 update, it gets pretty much everything you’d want in a sub-compact. It gets fancier gauges with a 4.2-inch full-color TFT display and an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto! Safety’s been enhanced too with the addition of Honda Sensing (more on that later). If ever, we’d just add reverse parking sensors and a LaneWatch camera (it only has a reverse camera as standard) and call it complete. Rear disc brakes and an electronic parking brake would be are nice too, but that’s probably reserved for the e:HEV model.

#3: Space for your life

If there’s one aspect that sets both the Brio and City apart from everyone else, it’s the interior space. Far and large, they’re the best places to spend traffic in, especially if you need to ferry five regularly. Both offer a decent amount of stage spaces for small knick-knacks and devices.

On the City, it grows to the point that it’s nearly identical to Civics of the past. The sheer amount of legroom shames much larger cars. On top of that, the decision to install a horizontally-themed dashboard with a lower cowl, and thinner A-pillars do well to increase its feeling of space, all the while improving visibility. If there’s an issue, it’s that the centrally-mounted fuel tank. The seating feels somewhat awkward. It’s not uncomfortable, mind you, but it’s not at par with Honda’s Man Maximum, Machine Minimum ethos. Towards the back, the cavernous trunk that can swallow more than a week’s worth of groceries. If need be, it can take in two full-sized suitcases for that airport run.

On to the Brio, the passengers find the back a hospitable place to be it. Despite being classified as a sub-B or even A-segment hatchback, there’s far more knee and headroom available here than the rest of its segment competitors. Oh, and get this: there are adjustable headrests—three of them—in the back. In fact, the Brio’s space is limited only by the interior width so seating two adults and a kid would be the most ideal (you can still fit three in a pinch, however). When it comes to luggage space, it allows large pieces of luggage to fit with almost no issue. The rear seats can also be collapsed for additional space too, but mind you, there’s no split-folding function here.

#4: Safety is a priority

Before, compact cars are usually the go-to vehicles for young families; today, with starting pricings going up past one million, these sub-compacts and sub sub-compacts are the way to go. Thankfully, carmakers have begun to understand that upwardly mobile families still consider safety as a top priority and have started to equip their entry-level vehicles with the same sort of safety equipment normally reserved for more expensive models.

Despite its size, the Brio is engineered with Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering or ACE concept. It helps distribute collision energy evenly and redirect it away from the passenger compartment, while at the same time, minimizing damage to other impacted vehicles. This is accomplished by using numerous grades of steel (typically four) which crumple in key areas and remain rigid in others. This is on top of the standard dual SRS airbags and ABS with EBD.

Meanwhile, the Honda City builds on its impressive 5-star ASEAN NCAP rating by adding a couple of active safety features such as Agile Handling Assist which lightly applies brakes to the front wheels to add stability and responsiveness, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, and of course, Honda Sensing. Honda Sensing is the brand’s blanket suite of advanced driver assist system that unlocks seven functionalities, some of which are unique in its segment: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Auto High Beam (AHB), and Lead Car Departure Notification (LCDN).

#5: Low cost of ownership

Aside from being frugal at the pump, Honda Cars Philippines has made sure they’re easy to maintain as well.

Consider this: based on Honda’s online PMS calculator, a full three years of Brio ownership costs P 48,343 or an average of P 16,114.33 per year. Projected over 60,000 kilometers, that’s roughly just P 0.80 per kilometer! Despite having a bigger engine, the City does even better at P 47,323 or P 15,774.33 per year. Over the same mileage, that’s just P 0.78!

Factoring in the cost of gasoline at P 65 per liter, it totals to P 5.844 per kilometer for the Brio and P 6.39 per kilometer for the City in terms of running cost. Not bad, considering a second-hand PPV will set you back double (P 12 per kilometer) in terms of fuel and maintenance. And that’s not even considering other forms of monetary savings. For example, the City enjoys preferential insurance rates thanks to Honda Sensing.

2024 Honda Brio RS and Honda City RS

click here for latest prices

Bottom Line 2024 Honda Brio 1.2 RS 2024 Honda City 1.5 RS
Pros Excellent mechanical refinement for the price. Mechanical refinement, gobs of interior room, balanced ride.
Cons No footrest; specs could have been better, no split-fold rear bench. Driver's seating not Honda's best; lacking comfort features for the price.
TL;DR Not the cheapest in the segment, but feels like a proper Honda in most ways. A solid update to an already impeccable package.
Year Introduced 2019 (Refreshed: 2023) 2020 (Refreshed: 2023)
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Sub-compact Hatchback Sub-compact Sedan
Seating 5 5
Engine / Drive F/F F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.2 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4 Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 90 @ 6,000 121 @ 6,600
Nm @ rpm 110 Nm @ 4,800 145 @ 4,300
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / ~91 Gasoline / ~91
Transmission CVT CVT
Cruise Control None Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 12.9 km/L @ 22 km/h
(fueled with Petron XCS)
11.6 km/L @ 18 km/h
(fueled with Petron XCS)
Fuel Tank Size (L) 35 40
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 3,811 4,589
Width (mm) 1,682 1,748
Height (mm) 1,487 1,467
Wheelbase (mm) 2,405 2,600
Curb Weight (kg) 995 1,124
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum Drum
Parking Brake Hand-Type Hand-Type
Tires Bridgestone Potenza RE030
185/55 R 15 V (f & r)
Yokohama BlueEarth-A
185/55 R 16 H (f & r)
Recommended Tire Pressure (PSI) 29 front / 28 rear 33 front / 32 rear
Wheels Alloy Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes Yes
Traction / Stability Control None Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear None
Parking Camera None Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelt 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelt 3-pt ELR x 2; 2-pt Lap Belt x 1 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes Yes
Other Safety Features None Collision Mitigation Braking System
Lane Keeping Assist System
Road Departure Mitigation
Lane Departure Warning
Lead Car Departure Notification
Exterior Features
Headlights LED LED, w/ Auto High Beam
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED) Yes, Front (LED)
Light Operation Manual Auto On/Off
Wiper Operation Fixed Intermittent Fixed Intermittent
Tailgate Manual Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Urethane Leather
Seating Surface Fabric Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 6-way, Manual 6-way, Manual
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual 4-way, Manual
2nd Row Foldable Fixed, w/ Arm Rest
3rd Row None None
Sunroof None None
Multi-Information Display / Size Yes, Line-Type Yes, 4.2-inch TFT
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes Yes
Power Door Locks Yes Yes
Power Windows Yes Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night Day/Night
Proximity Key None Yes
Climate Control Manual Auto, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
Apple CarPlay (Wireless)
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6 8
Steering Controls Yes Yes


  1. Best vehicles in its class
    Honda Brio just needs better cash discounts to make it more sellable.

  2. Replies
    1. GAC vehicles are overpriced. Isipin mo, walang resale value at walang piyesa. Mapapamahal ka pa sa gasto in the end. Yan ang tunay na overpriced!

  3. At that price you can get a bigger more powerful vios

    1. Probably a toss up in terms of power. Overall acceleration will be down to gearing:

      Vios 1.3
      Power: 99 PS
      Torque: 123 Nm
      Curb Weight: 1,085 kg
      Power-to-Weight: 0.09 PS / kg

      Brio 1.2
      Power: 90 PS
      Torque: 110 Nm
      Curb Weight: 995 kg
      Power-to-Weight: 0.0892

      But size-wise, agreed. The Vios is definitely the bigger car.

    2. Yes. But you cannot compare the quality, refinement and performance of the vios to either the brio or city.

    3. I'd take the City over the Vios any day!

  4. Any indication if Honda will release the City hatchback with turbo eHEV in the Phils?

    1. I would like this pretty much :)

  5. Honda = Safety. I got hit into the side by a jeepney in my Jazz RS this year. Jeepney driver ignored red light. He hit me at about 40 KPH. Both my leftside doors were smashed in. Curtain airbags popped out. I sustained zero injuries. It was quite a scare though.


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