Test Drive: Honda BRIO 1.2 V CVT

    MobilityCarsTest Drive: Honda BRIO 1.2 V CVT

    The second-generation Honda Brio has been in the Philippine market for over a year now, but after months of staying indoors due to the community quarantine, it was refreshing to find a canary yellow test unit on my doorstep. With transport options still rather limited in Metro Manila, this snappy little hatchback seems just the thing for zipping around for those quick grocery runs, or for safely commuting to work.

    Design 4/5

    The smallest car in Honda’s line-up, the Brio is a sub-compact hatchback targeted at emerging markets. The second-generation Brio, launched in the Philippines in April 2019, takes its design inspiration from its big brother Mobilio, a 7-seater MPV. The Brio has a single-bar chrome grille with the Honda emblem in the center, resting on black plastic mesh. The headlamps with an LED light guide as well as projector fog lamps integrated into the huge bumper complete the bold, aggressive design. Departing from the previous glass back, the Brio now has a conventional rear hatchback tailgate with a built-in high mount rear spoiler.

    Dimension wise, the Brio is actually longer and wider than competitive models, with a surprisingly spacious interior. Its 137mm ground clearance, though, is quite low and could prove worrisome during rainy days. As mentioned earlier, the interior is roomy, with seating for 5 adults. The rear seats can fold down to create up to 710-liters of cargo capacity.

    Equipment 4/5

    The Brio 1.2 V CVT variant is powered by a 1,199cc SOHC i-VTEC engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. Maximum power output is rated at 90ps @ 6,000rpm and maximum torque is 110Nm @ 4,800rpm—easily the best performing vehicle in its class.
    The suspension system consists of a MacPherson strut with stabilizer in front and a torsion beam for the rear. Brakes are front ventilated discs and rear drums. It has the basic safety features, including anti-lock brakes and dual airbags for the driver and front passenger. Additionally, it has a security alarm and built-in immobilizer.

    The audio system consists of a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with Bluetooth, audio streaming, and USB 2.0 connectivity. There’s also a 12V accessory socket for charging mobile devices. The airconditioning system has manual controls with a digital display.

    User Experience 4.5/5

    There’s one thing I love about Honda cars—no matter which model, each one feels and behaves predictably like any other Honda. The linear acceleration when you step on the accelerator, the depth of the brake pedal, the solid road feel—if you’ve ever owned a Honda, the drive instantly seems like a homecoming.

    The Brio 1.2 V CVT, despite being an entry level model, is undeniably built according to Honda standards. The engine is powerful and responsive, while the continuously variable transmission is smooth and jerk-free. The electric power steering system makes Brio a breeze to maneuver while retaining driver control, and together with the Brio’s compact dimensions, makes for a nimble, agile vehicle that’s fun to drive.

    Amenities are basic but sufficient. The audio system with 4-speakers quickly paired with my phone and allowed me to stream my playlist. I also appreciated the speed-sensing door locks for that extra security on the road.

    Value 4/5

    The Honda Brio 1.2 V CVT is the lowest end automatic transmission variant, with a PHP 658,000 price tag—competitively priced for its category. Plus, with all the promotions and special deals being offered, you’d probably be able to get a good deal with special low downpayment plans, free comprehensive insurance, LTO registration, etc.

    Moreover, if you were to do your due diligence and compare specifications, I believe that the Brio comes out ahead of competition particularly in terms of performance. Also given the overall build quality and generally higher resale value of Hondas, you’re getting a car that will keep its worth over time.

    What’s Hot:

    • Looks and drives like a Honda
    • Good trim level for its category

    What’s Not:

    • Nothing major


    In my humble opinion, the Honda Brio is under-appreciated, but could actually be best in class.

    Reviewed and Photos by Maribelle Alba
    Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE October 2020 Issue

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