Honda Brio Automatic Review
Car tested: 2012 Honda Brio Automatic
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7,10,210/-
Automatic cars are getting increasingly popular these days owning to the frustrating traffic one encounters on daily urban commutes. Its not only about the ease of driving but also about curtailing the stress the driver goes through, more so in bumper to bumper traffic. The Honda Brio has proved its mettle and has established itself with authority in the overly crowded small hatchback segment, the only shortcoming being the lack of an automatic gearbox and a diesel mill. Well, Honda is addressing both these issues albeit one at a time. The Brio’s Diesel avatar (we reckon) is still a year away but Honda has promptly slotted in an automatic gearbox into the Brio to gratify that small section of customers who have an appetite for automatic vehicles. After selling more than 25,000 cars in the span of a single year after its launch, customer feedback and changing trends led the Japanese automaker to make this move. We drive the Honda Brio Automatic in rush hour Delhi traffic and find out how this little Honda holds up.
The Honda Brio is a well sculpted package with the Jazz derived petrol engine performing brilliantly. We have reviewed the Brio in detail last year. You can read about it HERE. This review will be limited to the automatic variant only. There is no differentiating the Brio AT and manual from the outside, nowhere does it say Automatic as far as the exteriors go. It’s only when you step in and the AT gearbox greets you.
The buzz was that Honda would bring the same CVT transmission used in Thailand but that’s not the case. Honda has gone down to adorn the Brio with a conventional 5-speed automatic transmission with a torque converter. A torque converter is generally a type of hydrodynamic fluid coupling that is used to transfer rotating power from the engine to the wheels and it essentially replaces the mechanical clutch in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, allowing the load to be separated from the power source. The gearbox is similar to the one used on the City, the gear ratios are different and are more suited to the Brio.
This 5-speed transmission is the first in the segment with all the other cars in the competition boasting of 4-speed units. The Honda Brio uses both close and wide gear ratios to get a satisfying balance between performance and fuel economy. The gearbox features 7 positions. Besides the regular ones like P, R, N and D, the Brio gets additional 3 gear positions in the form of D3, 2 and 1. This single clutch automatic gearbox is brilliant in the city. In D mode, you can shift right from first to the fifth gear depending on the speed and accelerator pedal position. Feed the throttle gently and this gearbox will up shift gently without any hassles resulting is a comfortable driving experience.
While overtaking, floor the pedal to the metal and the gearbox takes a while to register the need for urgent acceleration before darting forward. In these situations the D3 mode comes handy. In the D3 position, the first 3 gears are out to task resulting in quicker acceleration. The last two gears are particularly useful while going downhill where engine braking and better traction are primary requirements. The Honda Brio hits 90 km/hr in the second gear and 45 km/h in the first gear. The beauty is that it will hold in the gear (2 and 1 only) even while hitting the rev limiter without automatically shifting up. The result was obvious. This baby Honda AT ate up Delhi traffic without a hiccup and we came out as fresh as a daisy.
The instrument cluster shows which gear you are in. The Eco lamp works well to indicate whether you are driving in accordance to derive the best fuel economy.
Honda is not offering a dead pedal currently on the automatic variant which will be available in the V and S (O) variants. Another minor observation was that the turning radius of the Automatic is more by 0.2 (4.7 M) owing to a 3-degree change in the steering lock. This change has been made to fit in the automatic transmission. The 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine delivers the same power and torque figures as the manual variant i.e. 88 PS at 6000 RPM and 109 NM at 4500 RPM. While the manual variant delivers an ARAI certified mileage of 19.4 km/l, the automatic manages a mileage of 16.5 km/l. This 2.9 km/l drop in mileage is well worth the convenience the Brio Automatic offers. We reckon the Honda Brio AT will be dearer by about Rs. 60,000/- when Honda announces the prices on the 18th of October 2012. One thing is for sure, if you negotiate 2 to 3 hours of traffic everyday, the Brio Automatic will love you way more than the manual one.