A note to Honda – BR-V Edition

With Mobilio and Brio receiving its mid-cycle refresh, the BR-V is alone out out of the platform that has yet to receive a refresh.

The BR-V, to me is the ultimate Mobilio, the best iteration of the platform bar none. From the outside, it looks like a Mobilio with a facelift, a very good face lift, but it’s so much more than that. The BR-V receives extensive sound proofing, better mechanics and inside it has more headroom than the Mobilio. Yet, for all of its superiority over the Mobilio, I still can’t wrap my head around the third row seat utility.

The BR-V like the Mobilio, has a third row seat that tumbles forward for extra cargo area. Yet, even though the third row back seat can be folded 50:50, the base is not divided. So if you want to fit an extra tall item, you either have to sacrifice the third row seat altogether or put the item on top one of the folded backseat, which, because it’s a cushion, won’t give a stable base to put things on.

I had this one particular case last week when I was driving with 4 other person on my Freed. I was out buying some gardening stuff, some short plants, some horizontal pots, and some compost. Because the third row seat folds 50:50 individually, my big friend can still sit at the back comfortably with only one seat folded, although the compost smells kind of makes him wanted to kill me, but hey, it still works. If I drive the BR-V, the big dude had to sit in the second row with two other big dudes which is not at all comfortable. I’m still boggled by the notion that Honda engineers and designers sorely left out the utility that makes a Honda, a Honda, from the platform altogether.

I know, I know, cost cutting… But Toyota Avanza has 50:50 individually splitting third row seat that tumbles forward… A Toyota for crying out loud… Which I have nothing against, but, it’s a Toyota.

Also, for a premium car, or at least the most expensive car that shared platform with the Mobilio, and the dinky Brio, why the heck BR-V door panels ARE LIFTED ENTIRELY FROM THE BRIO!? Or… WHY DOES IT SHARE PARTS FROM THE CHEAPEST ENTRY LEVEL MODEL!?

Goodness gracious… My Freed is 7 years old and starting to show mechanical and electronic issues, although not disturbing to say the least, but it’s annoying. Frankly, I don’t see myself replacing the Freed with the Mobilio, if I do, that’s because I’m desperately needed to change the Freed, and I’m blood tied with Honda. The BR-V however, has a chance. Comes next year, rumors abound that it will receives a refresh and you know what’s coming next year also? Second generation Toyota Rush/Daihatsu Terios. I’m sure if Honda didn’t offer a substantial refresh on the BR-V, next year, it will be a bloodbath for the model.

So for summary, my note for Honda BR-V:

  • Do something about the door panel lining. Differentiate it more than Brio door panel lining.
  • Use true split 50:50 for the third row.
  • A true LED DRL with brighter lighting.

That’s it… It’s very straightforward. The BR-V is the flagship product of the Brio, Mobilio, BR-V trio in Indonesia. The basics are there, it’s just that the devil is in the detail.

A Note To Honda – Brio Edition

So what’s wrong about the Brio? Bearing the torch as Honda entry level car, the Brio carried the burden laid by the old Honda Fit/Jazz. The Fit/Jazz was everything a compact car could have been. An agile handling, a responsive but frugal engine, high utility function with the fold flat seats and best of all, entry level pricing. The Brio on the other hand covers everything but left one thing wanting, especially the utility part. With a cargo space barely fitting a backpack that can fit 15″ laptop sideways, what happened? Many cars in the Brio class has superior cargo space, in fact, it can be argued that the Brio has the smallest cargo space in the class.

Size wise, the Brio is quite compact, but not as compact as the other car in the segment. Let’s pull a size comparison with the Daihatsu Ayla, just from Wikipedia.

Brio LxWxH : 3.61 x 1.68 x 1.47 Meter

Ayla LxWxH : 3.6 x 1.6 x 1.52 Meter.

Volume wise the Brio basically is about the same with the Daihatsu offering, however how come the cargo space for Agya is so much bigger than the Brio?

This is where the platform sharing fell short for the Brio. Size is never anything. There are plenty of consideration needed to size a car based on its dimension. For example, the wheelbase. The Brio has a short wheelbase, at only 2.34 Meter, compared to Ayla 2.45 Meter. Does 13 Centimeter is a lot? Well yes… For a front wheel drive cars, wheelbase means exactly the interior space a car has for its occupants and cargo if it’s a two box design cars, which underlies station wagon, hatchbacks and anything without a trunk/boot.

So the Brio has a bad length to wheelbase ratio, because it suffers from the platform sharing stigma. The car length was attributed to the fact that the platform caters engine to its biggest size, the 1.5L turbocharged diesel i-DTEC engine available in India. No matter how you sugarcoat the i-DTEC engine, a combination of turbocharger, intercooler and extra pipings necessitate a bigger engine bay than necessary. Brio engine bay fits the L15 i-VTEC like a champ, and it’s actually one of the most popular modification for those who want to get power and stay on this spectrum of naturally aspirated engine.

Lucky this issue only affects the utility side of the car. The Brio is still a blast to drive, even with a dinky 1.2L engine. Short wheelbase does impart the go kart like driving sensation, and with a marginally wide and low slung body, daily driving may be exciting, if the law allows it.

So what can be done with the utility issue for the next generation of Brio? Sadly… Nothing the engineers can do with it if the next car is based on the same platform sharing. What they can do is to design the car with a more aggressive styling like the current Brio RS. Move away from the wide eyed look of the current car, and be more like a smaller Jazz with H wing fascia. The engineers can also design a boxier looking car, but at the expense of making a dorky looking car. I know it’s hard to design the perfect car, since engineers and designers always headbutt their conversation any way they can.

Source:

Honda Brio Wikipedia

Daihatsu Ayla Wikipedia

A note to Honda

Like anything in this world, nothing is perfect, so does Honda and its products. In this entry series called ‘a note to Honda’, I’m casting away my fanboyness to anything Honda for constructive critiques.

Honda never shied away from using an existing platform for a wide variety of cars, some are amazing because of it, but some has weird peculiarity because it uses the same platform.

Honda built its car using global platforms, a mainstay term today but a unique concept back in the day. There was a time one platform called Honda small global platform underlines 5 model back in early 00’s with the Fit, Fit Aria (City), Airwave, Mobilio, and Mobilio Spike.

For more than a decade, Honda never use platform sharing as aggressive as back in the early 00’s with the Fit line. Now they are back with full force with the Brio line. Spanning 4 model line, it might not be as frugal as the Fit platform sharing, but it sets out what’s good and bad about Honda. I’ve wrote about the Brio platform in the past, but more of overview of the platform. Here I will be much more critical of the platform and many about Honda in general.

So next, let’s talk about the Brio.