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.anshuman 11th October 2012 19:11

Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
The Honda Brio Automatic has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 5.74 - 5.99 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• 5-speed Automatic gearbox is easily the best-in-class
Sweet i-VTEC engine & healthy power-to-weight ratio
• High quality interiors for the segment
• Light controls, smooth gearshifts and easy maneuverability make for stress-free commuting
• Honda's reliability & ownership experience

What you won’t:

• Gearbox can end up puzzled on mid-throttle input
• Equipment list lacks rear defogger, CD player & driver seat height adjustment
• Basic, unsettled ride quality on irregular roads. Gets choppy on uneven highways
• Small 175 liter boot
• Ordinary space for back seat passengers. Rear seat-back too short

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window.

.anshuman 11th October 2012 19:12

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
Since the Honda Brio has already been reviewed by Team-BHP, this report will only focus on the Automatic transmission & changes vis-a-vis the manual variant. For easy reference, here are direct links to the full Honda Brio test:

Exterior Design & Build Quality

Interior design, space, practicality & features

Other Pertinent Points

The Smaller & Significant Things

.anshuman 11th October 2012 19:12

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
1 Attachment(s)

Honda has always been proactive with its automatic range of cars in India. Right from the 1st generation of the Honda City to the Civic, Accord & CRV, the company has had a wide portfolio of AT cars. Petrol prices are high and the fuel efficiency of ATs is lower than their manual counterparts. Still, an important part of Honda's urban clientèle willing pays the price for convenience. The Brio is the 3rd car from its segment to offer a slushbox, after the popular Hyundai i10 and the unpopular Maruti A-Star. Both competitors have a 4-speed gearbox.

Attachment 1002118

Unlike the Thailand-spec Honda Brio that uses a CVT transmission, the Indian version gets a traditional 5-speed torque converter unit. This gearbox is the same as that of the Honda City, but with different ratios and the paddle shifters removed. The Automatic transmission will be offered on the Brio S(O) and V trim levels. Equipment levels are otherwise the same as on the Brio MT.

.anshuman 11th October 2012 19:13

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review

The Honda City's 5-speed Automatic is a competent gearbox. Plonking this transmission into the agile & peppy Brio seems like a good recipe. It definitely sounds more exciting than the "geared for economy" CVT offered in the Thai-spec Brio. Compared to the Brio MT, the AT's turning radius has increased by 0.2 meters, due to the wider track needed for accommodating the AT gearbox. The box wasn't originally designed for the Brio; this combination is available only in India.

There are no changes to the Brio's beige & black interiors, save for the AT gear shifter, missing clutch pedal and gear mode display on the instrument console. The Brio doesn't have a dead pedal, something that should have been in the "must-have" list for engineers. Still, there is sufficient space for your left foot, and the floor is nicely contoured as well. The ergonomics are top notch overall. Only thing I really missed was the driver's seat height adjustment. There is definitely a compromise with this "one size fits all" approach and I found the seat to be a tad too high for my taste. Those with a shorter build will be happy though. The chunky steering wheel has no leather cladding, yet the choice of material is good.

Expectedly, the gearbox doesn't get the City's paddle shifters. The AT has a standard P-R-N-D layout, along with the old school D3-2-1 modes to compensate for the absence of tiptronic. The gearshift knob is carried over from the Honda Civic, which is surely better than the plain-jane piece of the City. Note that the gear modes aren't illuminated at night.

The Brio's 1.2L i-VTEC engine is rated at 87 BHP (@ 6,000 rpm) and 109 Nm of torque (@ 4,500 rpm). The powerplant starts with the now familiar sounding note. Within the first few meters itself, I could feel the extra support from the torque converter. Low end response is stronger than in the Brio MT, the engine now pulling with a certain amount of eagerness. With light accelerator inputs, upshifts are pretty early @ 2,000 rpm. Prod the accelerator some more and you'll see the gearbox moving up at 3,000 rpm. Along with light controls, good visibility and a short turning radius, the Brio AT is absolutely effortless to drive in dense city traffic. The gearshifts are acceptably smooth, though you still know when the gearbox is moving up or down. Crawling in traffic, even without any accelerator input, the Brio AT moves with a lot more pace than is normal. In a gridlock, you'll need to generously apply the brakes to keep crawling speeds in check.

The ratios are smartly chosen for this 1.2L engine. The initial 3 gears are quite short, while the 4th & 5th are tall. Out on the open road with a heavy right foot, the gearbox responds well. Shift times are good and the Brio holds gears to the redline. The AT is quick to respond to any inputs from the accelerator pedal. Acceleration is satisfactory, though of course, the Brio AT is nowhere as quick as its MT sibling. One area of disappointment is the NVH at high rpms; the engine & drivetrain sound more stressed and unrefined, compared to the Brio MT.

It's only when you start driving with medium accelerator inputs that you start discovering the gearbox' shortcomings. With the accelerator pressed halfway, the otherwise well-sorted transmission ends up feeling puzzled. You'll frequently find it revving the engine by holding onto a gear unnecessarily, or upshifting when the same isn't required. I had to make the Brio AT upshift at times by releasing the accelerator pedal and, conversely, pressing it a little harder to drop a gear.

The Brio AT felt perfectly at home cruising on the Greater Noida Expressway at 100 kph. The engine was spinning at a relaxed 2,100 rpm, with the car feeling perfectly planted. 5th gear is a lot taller than on the Brio MT which sees 100 kph @ 3,000 rpm. Highway fuel economy should be satisfactory. Just like the Brio MT, the AT's top speed is electronically limited to 140 kph. When cruising on the highway, I missed paddle shifters the most, as I couldn't figure out a way to accelerate in the same gear; even the slightest pedal pressure makes the gearbox drop a gear, when it could very well have accelerated in the same gear.

The go-kart like agile handling remains the same, along with a quick & reasonably direct (albeit over-servo'ed!) steering. You can have a whole lot of fun throwing the Brio into corners. The weakest link is the tyres that start protesting early in the game. The suspension set-up remains similar to the MT variant we tested last year, with the same uncomfortable rear suspension on bad roads. High speed composure for such a small car is impressive.

.anshuman 11th October 2012 19:13

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
Other Points:

• No difference on the outside, not even an AT badge:

• Same 175/65 R14 tyres mounted on 10 spoke alloy wheels. I recommend an upgrade to 185 patch rubber:

• What Honda calls the Brio AT :D

• Steering-mounted audio controls are nicely laid out:

• No Climate control, but A/C is strong:

• Different Engine mounts for the AT:

• No Dead Pedal. Still, there's enough space for your left foot to relax:

• ARAI fuel economy rating is 16.5 kpl. That's ~2 kpl down on the Brio MT.

• This is the only 5-speed AT hatchback in India. The more expensive i20 AT makes do with a 4-speed gearbox.

• In D3 / 2 / 1 mode, the engine won't shift higher than 3rd / 2nd / 1st gear (respectively). D3 can prove useful when overtaking or for using engine braking. "2" makes the transmission stick to the 2nd gear only (no shifting up or down), and is ideal for engine braking or better traction when starting off on loose / slippery surfaces.

• Honda says that the scooped diesel engine (link) will not be offered in the Brio. It's being readied for the Brio-based sub-4 meter sedan coming next year.

• Unlike the Brio MT media cars from last year, the Brio AT had a parcel tray which did a good job of hiding stuff in the luggage compartment.

• With the launch of the Brio AT, the Jazz remains the only Honda without an automatic gearbox. We don't think it's getting one anytime soon.

• Honda now introduces a maintenance package for 40,000 kms / 2 years. Cost = Rs. 9,996.

BusyBoyKK 11th October 2012 19:27

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
Very well presented review Anshuman. Thanks for bringing it.

Would be interesting to see the Brio platform based Honda diesel sub 4 meter sedan (what a combination of attributes to describe the car).

Just wondering, if Honda is contemplating on launching the model in European markets or has it already launched.

P.S: Once in a blue moon can we credit ourselves as the first-to-reply in a official review thread. I have the distinction now. :D

dipen 11th October 2012 19:32

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
The Brio V MT and S(O) MT are offered for near 50k discount in Mumbai. Wonder if the AT will offer the same. The ex-showroom pricing shouldn't be more than 70k over the MT to make a decent mark.

5 Speed Auto - a first for any hatch is a welcome thing even though it was due to the re-useability from the existing parts bin.

sanjeevskartha 11th October 2012 19:35

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
Nice review, thanks for sharing :)


Originally Posted by .anshuman (Post 2929845)
Other Points:

• Honda says that the scooped diesel engine (link) will not be offered in the Brio. It's being readied for the Brio-based sub-4 meter sedan coming next year.


Oh my, I think Honda is missing a point here. A Diesel Brio would have been a very, very tempting offer in our market. Guess that is not going to happen :confused:

agambhandari 11th October 2012 19:49

I happened to ride a friend's manual Brio today.
And I must say i am impressed.
The space on the inside is much more than what the compact dimensions suggest. Actually i found the rear seat to be quite comfortable with an average sized adult driving in the front.

A slush box only increases the appeal of what's already a great car.

ninjatalli 11th October 2012 20:01

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review

Originally Posted by .anshuman (Post 2929843)
The suspension set-up remains similar to the MT variant we tested last year, with the same uncomfortable rear suspension on bad roads. High speed composure for such a small car is impressive.

Excellent, crisp and to the point review. Rating 5 stars without any doubts.

Just one query - the MT Brio's suspension seemed quite bouncy on both of my colleagues' Brio(s). Have done multiple drives, after due checking of the air-pressure, still the car feels bouncy (not sure if it is a documented aspect on the Brio thread). Have Honda done anything different for the AT Brio or is it still the same?

Edit: Seriously Honda, Love-O-matic?!!!? :D :D

Octane_Power 11th October 2012 20:04

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review

Originally Posted by sanjeevskartha (Post 2929861)
Nice review, thanks for sharing :)

Oh my, I think Honda is missing a point here. A Diesel Brio would have been a very, very tempting offer in our market. Guess that is not going to happen :confused:

I second that. I did read somewhere Honda has bitten the bullet and is working on diesel engines. A diesel from Honda would definitely be something to look forward to.
As far as the Brio is concerned when i test drove it(manual) I did find it quite peppy to drive but it was then rejected due to (as also stated in the review) the rear bench, lack of features and also is it just me or the rear glass design is really quirky? I personally find it too open for my likings. Though this is just a personal choice.


venks 11th October 2012 20:18

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
Most awaited official review for this season, I guess. Good job with the review anshuman ! Any pointers about the pricing? Got to see in another thread that it would be prices Rs 60-70 k more than manual version though. Looks like my wait for automatic jazz is going to be never ending, love the practicality/utility of the car. Wifey loves brio and brio AT could well be our next car !


blackasta 11th October 2012 20:33

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
Crisp review - any update on the pricing would be great!
Also - what's the suggested upsize for the tires? 185/60R14 has a circumference difference of -0.94% - I guess that's the closest one. Also - can the existing alloys on the V or rims on the S(O) take 185 width tires?

I am heavily in favor of getting this one - and can look the other way when it comes to the digital media only sound system ,archaic fresh/recirculate selector switch, no height adjust on driver seat, exposed metal on the door pockets - all for the claimed 'best in class' gearbox and ivtec engine. But the lack of rear defogger and wash/wipe is making me think twice. Someone in this forum was discussing about a stick on rear defogger - maybe that will be a solution!

vb-san 11th October 2012 20:48

Thanks Anshuman for the excellent review. Even though they have only petrol variants, it's commendable that Honda is bringing in these updates in this segment. AT is quite ideal in these small city cars and I won't be surprised if the competition will soon follow this route.

dZired 11th October 2012 20:55

Re: Honda Brio (Automatic) : Official Review
Great review. Thanks for sharing. :)

I am eagerly waiting for the launch of the BRIO automatic. Hope Honda prices it well and finally we get a better alternative to the hyundai i10 (no one remembers the A-star).

IMO Honda should have provided an AT badge at the rear in order to externally differentiate the MT and AT variants.

EDIT: Love-omatic sounds too desperate. :D

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