Red Bull Honda 2019

To say that Honda has a great 2017 F1 season is an overstatement unlike any other. In fact it’s the craziest most ridiculous season of Formula 1 I ever watched. The change of Honda F1 boss from Yasuhisa Arai to Yusuke Hasegawa last year doesn’t deliver the performance improvement whatsoever. Honda engine performance was so bad, with plenty of race failures, Fernando Alonso even slow down on purpose in the Belgian GP. If the idea is to spite the Honda team, he did it with aplomb.

McLaren bosses made it very public they are not happy with Honda engine. Despite countless, countless, well actually some statement from Honda admitting they are failing but vow for improvements, McLaren didn’t want any of it since they considered the team as a first tier and not a bottom dweller. The thing is, Mclaren-Honda relationship is not skin deep, it goes way deeper. Honda is the one who actually pays for Fernando Alonso salary, one of the most expensive F1 driver in the grid. Honda also bears part of the brunt of financing the McLaren team. Honda is more than just an engine supplier.

So why Honda engine suffers? Well, because F1 truly is the pinnacle of motorsport racing, with hugely complex power unit. Not just an engine, F1 power unit consists of internal combustion engine with a turbocharger and both a kinetic and heat reclamation technology to produce power. The engineering adage speaks true, the more things you add up the more things going to explode. So what gives, Honda is an engineering company, what happened in the development part? F1 enforced a “fairness clause”, means that engine development is not actually free, it has to be done in a certain time period and tested during race season. Even testing the engine on a moving chassis outside the allocated time period is forbidden. Honda engineers have a very limited experience with producing high performance engines due to constantly going in and out of F1, and having ZERO high performance car in the market for almost a decade after the first generation NSX ends its production in 2004. Compared to Ferrari, Mercedes, even McLaren to some extent, their engineers are head deep in experience making the best of performance engines.

Since McLaren bosses are aware that brand image is an expensive thing to lost, more so than Honda funding, they finally cut ties with Honda and chose the third best option to partner with Renault for their engine. So why Renault oh so mighty McLaren? Because Fernando Alonso just wanted out from the Honda engine so bad, they will settle for anything but Honda. Fernando Alonso is the key figure here. He is arguably one of the best driver, and like any band front runner, the singer sometimes makes or break the band. Freddie Mercury and Kurt Cobain comes to mind. Alonso stipulates if he’s staying in McLaren, the engine supplier needs to be changed, fast. Since Ferrari and Mercedes are not willing to supply another team, the option goes to Renault. Sure Red Bull Racing currently stands in third constructor’s championship is powered by a Renault engine, however Toro Rosso, and even the factory Renault team that uses the Renault engine is having a bad time with engine problems as well.

But a deal has been made, and starting 2018, Honda will part ways with McLaren. It’s a sad day remembering that McLaren-Honda partnership in Aryton Senna time was considered legendary.

So welcoming Toro Rosso! Eh… It’s weird that Honda now backing up a satellite team from previously backing up one of the prestigious racing team in the field. Toro Rosso is Red Bull satellite team, a junior team where potential drivers “trains” in the field and if deemed potential goes up the food chain and get a seat on the Red Bull F1 car. It looks bad at first, relegated to a satellite team with slimmer chance of winning due to having a potential but not experienced drivers…. But you know what… Truth sometimes stranger than fiction.

In a twist worthy of any latin America telenovela, Renault actually shutters the engine deal for Red Bull Racing in 2018! With Mercedes and Ferrari only commits to existing team (hence McLaren-Renault deal), Honda might just have to supply Red Bull team with an engine in 2019! On the early hours of Toro Rosso deals, a lot of comments goes to Honda that they can breathe a sigh of relief, to improve their engines with Toro Rosso and fails in leisure without the pressure of top tier team. Now with this news, it has come to mind that the race never let up, Honda needs to improve, and improve a whole God damn lot, if they want to return to supplying the top team.

So Yusuke Hasegawa-san, you have 2 years to improve Honda F1 power unit and 2 years is a lot. God speed, and lose that eastern attitude, win at all cost.

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.

 

Mengapa Harus CVT?

Transmisi otomatis di era moderen sudah menjadi teknologi wajib atau minimal pilihan yang menarik bagi kalangan pengendara mobil terutama di kota-kota besar yang padat kendaraan. Kenyamanan hanya menginjak gas dan rem, membuat pengendara transmisi otomatis tidak merasa selelah mereka yang menggunakan transmisi manual dalam kondisi macet.

Akhir-akhir ini, produsen otomotif Jepang mulai menggunakan teknologi CVT (Continous Variable Transmission) untuk transmisi otomatis mereka. Nissan memang yang pertama menjadi advokat teknologi ini, dengan menyertakan CVT di hampir semua produk mereka dari sedan hingga MPV besar. Dengan klaim kenyamanan berkendara yang optimal serta efisiensi bahan bakar, teknologi CVT menjadi ciri khas dari produk mobil Nissan. Honda di Indonesia sempat menjajal pasar dengan teknologi CVT pada produk Honda Jazz dan City pada tahun 2004 sebelum kembali menggunakan transmisi multi percepatan pada Jazz dan City generasi ke-2. Namun, dengan dibawah bendera Earth Dreams, Honda memperkenalkan kembali teknologi CVT yang hampir menyeluruh diadopsi dari model kelas pemula seperti Brio hingga kelas premium seperti Honda Accord dan Odyssey. Bahkan, Honda Civic dengan mesin turbonya juga telah menggunakan CVT.

Pengadopsian teknologi CVT yang massal oleh Honda bukanlah tanpa sebab, seperti Nissan, insinyur Honda tampaknya telah menyempurnakan beberapa aspek teknologi CVT mereka untuk menghasilkan performa, kenyamanan dan efisiensi untuk semua mobil Honda. Lalu Anda bertanya, apakah CVT dan mengapa Nissan serta Honda berbondong-bondong mengusung teknologi ini?

CVT, atau Continous Variable Transmission memiliki satu keunikan dibandingkan dengan semua teknologi transmisi otomatis yang ada di dunia, yaitu ketiadaan roda gigi. Transmisi multi percepatan memiliki roda gigi dengan rasio-rasio tertentu, seperti halnya transmisi manual. Untuk mencapai akselerasi tinggi, gigi rasio tinggi digunakan dan untuk mencapai efisiensi mesin tertinggi, gigi rasio rendah digunakan. Untuk mendapatkan kombinasi jumlah roda gigi yang ideal, diperlukan banyak roda gigi atau jumlah percepatan, yang menyebabkan ongkos material meningkat dan ukuran transmisi yang memanjang. Honda sendiri sudah mengembangkan dan menjual mobil dengan transmisi 10 percepatan pada mobil Odyssey di Amerika Serikat, namun hanya terbatas pada satu tipe termahal saja. Untuk produk massalnya, Honda tetap berpegang teguh pada penggunaan CVT.

CVT mengentaskan masalah jumlah gigi dengan solusi ideal, yaitu daripada menggunakan jumlah gigi yang banyak, CVT menggunakan dua buah pulley, memutar rantai besi yang membesar dan mengecil, menyesuaikan dengan kerja putaran mesin. Hal ini membuat kendaraan berakselerasi tanpa henti hingga titik tenaga tertinggi tanpa diperlukannya perpindahan gigi karena kedua buah pulley tersebut menyesuaikan besaran rasio gigi secara terus menerus.

Dalam keseharian saya mengendarai Brio dengan transmisi otomatis 5 percepatan, sangat terasa kondisi-kondisi dimana transmisi mengalami kebingungan untuk turun gigi atau tetap pada gigi yang berjalan, terutama ketika ingin mendahului mobil di jalan tol. Ketika saya menginjak pedal gas untuk mendahului, terkadang gigi turun sehingga mobil berakselerasi cepat tapi terkadang tidak, dimana saya harus menginjak pedal lebih dalam supaya gigi melakukan kickdown dan berakselerasi. Kondisi ini terjadi ketika rasio gigi yang dipilih berada di ambang tengah kedua rasio gigi terdekat. Dengan CVT, kondisi ini tidak akan pernah terjadi karena rasio gigi berubah sesuai kebutuhan, hanya tergantung beban mesin saja dan apakah sudah mencapai batas tenaga mesin yang mampu diberikan.

Tanpa adanya perpindahan gigi tentu membuat transmisi CVT menjadi sangat nyaman. Sayangnya tidak semua setuju. Untuk pengendara yang biasa membawa kendaraan manual maupun transmisi otomatis multi percepatan, ketiadaan hentakan perpindahan gigi membuat mengendarai kendaraan dengan CVT terasa aneh. Untungnya, CVT dapat diprogram untuk mensimulasikan rasio gigi tetap. Tapi hal ini tidak diperlukan dan bahkan mengurangi efisiensi CVT dari segi akselerasi dan penggunaan bahan bakar.

Mobilio Refresh Is Here

The new new new new Mobilio is here. We need to discuss Honda Indonesia naming strategy one of these days, for every refresh, touch up, new addition of something they add new. With that said, welcoming Mobilio refresh 2017, arguably the biggest refresh after last year’s dashboard change.

The Mobilio Refresh seems like it’s following a mid-cycle route, being launched late 2013 in Indonesia. Meaning that a full model change will come around 2019. Like any mid-cycle refresh, the Mobilio features the biggest change ever, most notably on its front end.

For summary of changes:

  • Angular front end with revised headlight and hood.
  • New interior color.
  • New seat design.
  • New exterior colors.
  • New multimedia system.
  • Available VSA option

The biggest change definitely is in the front end, featuring new headlight and new bumper that gives the car Honda corporate “solid wing face”. The construction is fairly simple, big halogen lights will not get any point whatsoever, but the inclusion of DRL led light warrants extra point. So much so that Honda even eliminate the projector headlight option on the RS variant. I haven’t check it for myself, but the curved led light (Honda term “guide light”) supposed to be a DRL, which means it’s active all the time. This is huge as it is more of a safety feature than lighting function. It is a function that indicates that a car is active to notify other driver from the opposite side of the road. It’s fairly minor, but a good addition and also enhances the overall look of the car.

The money shot right here, damn gorgeous angle

The interior colors receives lighter tone which Honda says it’s Ivory… To my opposition, it looks like grey in the promo materials. Definitely A HUGE improvement as lighter color gives more impression of a bigger space. The seat also got improvement with thicker cushion and movable headrest, seems taken from the BR-V. The second row seat now features ISO fix anchors and the middle seat even got an adjustable headrest (not available on the BR-V even). Also, unique to the RS variant is orange stitching for that extra spiciness.

Bring in the light!

The exterior colors got updated with a strange combination. The new purple, called Marine Purple is available for both standard and RS variant of the car, however the RS variant got a special color, Phoenix Orang Pearl Two Tone, which is standard glittery orange but with a black roof. Now here’s the strange combination part, the RS variant has always comes with a flushed roof rack, but if Honda Indonesia configurator is correct, only the orange two tone RS variant got the roof rack… Which is odd.

From the entertainment system part, Honda upgraded the AV system with a 6.2″ touch screen for the standard variant and gives 6 speaker system and even bigger AV system touchscreen at a whopping 6.8″ to the RS variant. Honda could’ve just lifted the BR-V AV system with Nanoe air purifier, but they didn’t, so there’s your main difference AV wise.

Finally, the RS CVT variant receives Honda stability assist and hill start assist which is quite a huge addition in terms of safety.

I’d probably do a driving impression sometimes this quarter. It intrigues me since Honda apparently (for real) will not bring in Freed replacement to Indonesia per recent interview with Mr. Jonfis Fandi. Stating that the Mobilio and BR-V already occupied the 7 seater segment and bringing another will split the market. So my 7 year old Freed will need to be replaced by either the Mobilio or the BR-V when push comes to shove. I’m still leaning towards the BR-V, since it has higher head clearance on the third row, but let’s see, I’m not in a hurry to replace my precious Freed.

Facelifted Honda Mobilio Coming With DRL

It’s officially official, the facelifted Honda Mobilio is getting a DRL with a complete set of fascia change and a new set of wheels (and a delicious purple/blue/something color)

The Mobilio is Honda most popular model in Indonesia, thanks to its three row seat and the successful campaign Honda Prospect Motor did all of this year to cement Honda brand equity at the top. Shout out to my Indian friends, too bad the Mobilio doesn’t work for you guys… But frankly, competition is not exactly cutthroat over here.

Looks like the new Avanza eh?

The original base Mobilio frankly doesn’t grow well with age. Sharing the front end with a micro car really hurts the overall looks of the car. Thankfully the RS model added longer bumper and more aggressive looking headlight.

Droopy front end is droopy

The base Mobilio bubbly headlight makes the car looking very friendly, and we like it like that, but the way it executed made the car too friendly, and frankly boring.

The facelifted Mobilio took out that bubbly headlight and make do with a squared eye look which gives it slightly more aggressive looking but still quite friendly, it is a family hauler after all. The new headlight answers my most criticized design aspect of the car, which is the droopy looking front end, which works quite well for a small car like the Brio, but doesn’t work at all with the long bodied Mobilio. With the square headlight, the overall front end looked more upright and making the car very tout like the BR-V.

The money shot

The biggest addition of them all is the DRL (day time running light) that is usually reserved for a more premium segment car. The details aren’t clear, but you can see it very well on the teaser video. It’s not known if the interior getting another update, since it already got one last year.

The official launch will be January 13th on Jakarta. You will get more update on another website since I’d probably too busy or doing nothing that interest you.

Penampakan Honda Freed Generasi Ke-2 Resmi di Website Honda

Setelah 8 tahun lamanya, akhirnya Honda secara resmi mulai melepas tabir yang menyelimuti Honda Freed generasi ke-2. Penampakan teaser Honda Freed generasi ke-2 di website http://www.honda.co.jp/FREED/new/ mungkin terlihat kecil, namun banyak hal yang dapat diperhatikan dari gambar mobil setengah gelap tersebut.

Kaca depan unik, garis-garis yang lebih sporty, dan kaca samping depan yang lebih besar memberikan perbedaan yang cukup signifikan dibandingkan dengan generasi Freed lawas.

Nantikan berita terkini dari Honda Freed di bulan-bulan berikutnya.

Sumber: Honda.jp

Gambar Paten Honda Freed Generasi Ke-2

Setelah hampir 8 tahun lamanya (Honda Freed diperkenalkan di Jepang pada tahun 2008), Honda akhirnya sudah mengarah pasti kepada peluncuran generasi ke-2 dari Honda Freed. Setelah beberapa foto Honda Freed generasi ke-2 difoto di berbagai jalan di Jepang menggunakan kamuflase, kini gambar minivan kompak besutan Honda tersebut sudah beredar luas di dunia maya melalui gambar paten.

Cukup banyak perbedaan pada generasi ke-2 Honda Freed yang patut dibahas. Desain yang mengusung ke tema sporty ini memberikan banyak peningkatan pada visibilitas pengendara dengan penambahan kaca pada pilar A serta penggunaan kaca depan dengan model kaca mata yang seharusnya menambahkan visibilitas secara vertikal. Untuk lebih jelasnya silahkan lihat gambar berikut.

Semua informasi yang ada mengarah pada peluncuran mobil ini pada akhir Q3 2016 atau awal Q4 2016 (sekitar September- Oktober) di Jepang.

Sudah siap untuk menerima orderan perdana di Indonesia Honda?

Sumber: Temple of VTEC

Honda Brio Platform Review

Honda is no stranger on making a platform for a car, albeit shares less than one can imagine, until the Honda Brio. Supposedly launched in 2010-2011 period in Indonesia the Brio had several delays due to natural disasters, Thailand flooding and Japan earthquake. Superstitious people would chalk it up to bad foretelling of the car, itself a new endeavor, a new car to slot in below the Fit/Jazz. In Indonesia, the Brio is supposed to be put in the new category of low cost green car category which was in legislation hell. There are plenty who oppose this new “cheap” car regulation, citing that it will increase traffic congestion and further increase subsidized fuel consumption. Not waiting for the regulation, Honda finally launched the Brio in 2012 in Indonesia to a lukewarm reception. The 1.3L engine was praised for its power and the 5 speed auto is class leading but not much else to talk about the car, as the Brio is a no frill, no specialty car and it shows.

The dinkiest Honda

Brio cheap interior is acceptable and usable, but the (only) adequate second row seat and the very cramped cargo space makes it less than ideal as Honda “young family first car” and more of a second car for established family. Unlike the previous entry level Honda, the Fit/Jazz, the Brio utility is sorely lacking. The smart seat that allows for cavernous cargo is none existent on the Brio, worse still, the car’s cargo space is the smallest in the class. There’s also the issue of the all glass rear hatch. The market perceives it as a total effort to reduce costs and increase the risk of losing the entire rear hatch on a rear crash situation. The biggest gripe of all lies in its pricing. The car was priced starting at Rp. 149 million, at that time, very expensive for a car that still offered manual window and the range topper was priced at Rp. 170 million. In retrospect, a good condition second generation – second hand low mileage Honda Jazz worth less of the Brio and the range topper is too close to entry level third generation Honda Jazz, both of which offered bigger space, better utility and power. The sales are so dire that rumors flew around that the car got discounted more than 20%, the biggest for a Honda in recent history.

Then, the LCGC regulation came to effect and the Brio finally receives its final specification, a 1.2L engine per the regulation. Like a breath of fresh wind, the regulation made the entry level Brio quite an affordable car, even the range topper fully equipped with automatic windows is priced roughly about 20% cheaper than the outgoing 1.3L (ironically per the discount). Sales pick up but the perception of success is never associated with the car. Apparently, the Brio isn’t Honda perfect weapon to gain significant numbers. In 2012, Honda was number 7 in Indonesia.

Then 2013 came and rumors about a long wheel base 3 row seats Brio heated up. There was quite uproar in the automotive scene in Indonesia since Honda doesn’t have an entry level 3 row seat that is extremely popular in Indonesia (Avanza/Xenia, Grand Livina). The only 3 row seats Honda offered in Indonesia is the Freed, and its place on the market is quite premium. Thankfully, by proxy of always offering (near) premium products, the market thinks of Honda as a premium brand, number 7 notwithstanding. The Brio, at first regarded as not so much as Honda savior is now starting to show why Honda made it in the first place. Think of the Brio not as a singular product but more of a variant from a scalable platform.

As a platform, the Brio received its first variant with the Brio Amaze or just the Amaze. A sedan version of the hatch, it was launched in India with plenty of excitement; the first affordable sedan from Honda. Unlike the Brio, the Amaze comes equipped with a respectably sized trunk and made it a true young family first car. Not just a variant, the Amaze was specifically created to adhere to India sub 4 meter car tax exempt regulation.

AMAZE-ZING! It’s a pun…

The Amaze has a longer wheelbase than the Brio, at 2405 Millimeter, it’s 60 Millimeter longer than the Brio and the review shows. The Amaze has more usable knee room for the second row occupants, and the added trunk, at 400 liters are top of the class in India. For better or worse, the Amaze dashboard is lifted directly from the Brio, with a slight chrome trim here and there. The overall design of the Amaze is still largely Brio, with front half of the Amaze is basically a Brio with body painted bumper part. It’s the back half of the car that defines the Amaze as its own design.

The idea of a long wheelbase Brio seems not too far fetched with the Amaze creation. The Amaze shares plenty of the Brio frame and equipment that an astute fan should’ve been able to guess the design elements of the long wheelbase Brio would look like.

Then the third variant of the Brio made official by Honda Prospect Motor (Honda Indonesia) as the Mobilio in 2013. At 2650 Millimeter, the Mobilio wheelbase is a whopping 30,5 Centimeter longer than the Brio. Just like the Amaze, the car comes out looking like the Brio even though with some clever design changes. First visual elements that people noticed are slightly fuller and longer bumper like the Fit/Fit Shuttle, making the front of the car more balanced with its additional length. The second striking visual element is the thunderbolt side body motive and flowing glass panel on the third row. To say that the Mobilio is visually striking is an understatement. Compared to its competitors back in 2013 the Mobilio is subjectively more pronounced in term of design, especially the RS trim, with its bold chrome in your face and projector headlights. It’s a testament to Honda designers because the Mobilio front end is basically the Brio, so much so in fact that Brio owners can change their car to look like a Mobilio, even the more upscale looking Mobilio RS.

Mobilio – The fancy MPV

The Mobilio being a front engine – front wheel drive car offers lowered stance and extra rearward space like its competitors. Compared to its rivals, the Mobilio sits in the lower end of the spectrum at a height of 1603 Millimeter and the head room is adequate for the class, Freed this is not. Inside, the Mobilio dashboard is lifted straight from the Brio, just like its Amaze cousin. Chrome trims here and there, some wording and lighting but it’s still Brio’s dash. The Mobilio second row is decidedly huge, knee room and shoulder room is generous, 2 adults and 1 children can sit comfortably (three adults can fit if necessary). The third row knee room is actually okay, however the raised floor (because the fuel tank sits underneath the third row) forced people with tall build has to seat knee up, almost squatting.

Brio, Amaze and Mobilio, all share this same dashboard panel until 2016

Mechanically, the Mobilio is bestowed with two engine choice in India, the 1.5L i-VTEC gasoline engine and the newly developed 1.5L i-DTEC diesel engine while other countries where it’s sold the car is only available in gasoline trim. It also has two choices of gearbox, a 5 Manual gear and a newly developed CVT. The CVT is Honda’s own second generation that comes equipped with torque converter. With the torque converter, off the line acceleration improves dramatically, and it does feel like it has more power down low according to my own experience. I drove the first generation Jazz with CVT and off the line acceleration is certainly not the car strong point, but the Mobilio CVT does deliver better acceleration on wide open throttle condition especially on “S” gear.

Being quite low, the car has quite pleasurable driving demeanor, especially with the standard engine being a 1.5L i-VTEC unit that is proven reliable and pumps out respectable 118PS. The 5MT is standard Honda, it’s not S2000 but more than adequate for daily driving with effortless clutch resistance. The CVT as mentioned is very nice on road. Much like any CVT, it offered silky smooth acceleration albeit people who are not used to CVT will feel weird about not feeling any gear changes.

In Indonesia, the Mobilio became perennial best seller with massive adoption and for the first time ever in the history of history, Honda Mobilio became part of Indonesia biggest taxi fleet, Blue Bird, breaking more than two decades of Toyota domination.

Mobilio RS – The fancier MPV

The Mobilio sales is so great, it beats the long running Daihatsu Xenia as the second best selling 7 seater in Indonesia, itself a great accomplishment that none before it ever came close. In April 2014, Honda even managed to land third best selling brand in Indonesia beating the likes of Suzuki and Mitsubishi which is surprising because Honda doesn’t sell commercial vehicles unlike those two. At the end of 2015, Honda secured its third place well above Suzuki.

Completing Honda onslaught of taking Indonesia market by storm is yet another variant of the Brio, this time an SUV variant. Around May of 2015, rumors are strong that Honda is going to have a 7 seater SUV derived from the Mobilio. Some quick to point out that the car is just going to be another dress up like Nissan Grand Livina X-Gear or Chevrolet Spin Activ, with extra body cladding, accessories and jacked up ride. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong as the official design sketch of the car shows a heavily modified Mobilio with completely different front end, revised rear end, and completely new dashboard and interior trim.

The BR-V as it’s christened by Honda Prospect Motor shows Honda engineering skills at its best. The BR-V is essentially a jacked up Mobilio, but the thoroughness of changes made it stood out.

Rhinoplasty at its best

First of all, the front end receives a major overhaul featuring angular front end which gives the car a strong rugged character, usually a design trait demanded from an SUV. The standard projector headlights gives it a premium look, and the body cladding gave the car that extra girth synonymous with SUV. From the front, nobody can challenge the car from the platform it was based on. The side and rear however gave its Mobilio heritage loudly. You can point out from the side that BR-V is rooted from Mobilio from the window frame kink, and the rear even though extensively reworked features the same frame rear glass panel with modified rear light. Inside, the massive change in dashboard almost make the BR-V a class higher than the Brio or Mobilio, with angular dashboard design that seemingly lifted from the Jazz/City.

Mechanically, by Honda Indonesia website, the car receives slightly more powerful engine with 120PS (Mobilio 118PS), a new ratio for the CVT unit and a 6 speed manual transmission. All running on a wider 16″ track.

Visually, the changes are more than skin deep though. From the specifications, the car grew taller, wider and longer. One thing to note is that the BR-V wheelbase is actually 10 millimeter longer than the Mobilio; A very peculiar trait. You can chalk up the size increase from the width, height and length of the car because of the stylized bumper and body cladding, but wheelbase is an absolute measurement of the space between the wheel axles and additional 10 millimeter means theoretically the BR-V offers better leg room than the Mobilio.

Sitting inside the BR-V second row however, I feel no different to the Mobilio, still generous leg room, and with enough width to seat 2 adults comfortably. To my great delight and surprise, it’s the third row, which offers improvement especially the headroom. On the Mobilio my head hit the roof liner with the seat fully reclined, but on the BR-V, I have about 3 Cm of clearance with the same seating position. The third row seating position like Mobilio is still not very well comfortable for my build, but the additional headroom is a very welcome change.

In short the BR-V, at first looks like a Mobilio with revised front end is basically a bigger car inside than the Mobilio, even excluding the body cladding, bumper and roof rack. This is quite the news and one that Honda should put in its marketing materials. I myself visited 5 of Honda dealership in my town checking out the BR-V, and only one salesperson daring enough to accommodate my aggressive questioning. So I sat on both Mobilio and BR-V, and I experienced first hand that the BR-V offers improvement in higher ceiling.

Oh by the way, any of you readers from Jakarta, Indonesia and interested on buying a Honda, please give a shout to Mr. Suno from Honda Mugen Pasar Minggu. Very helpful salesperson. Tell Michael sent you.

All the Brio based car shares this style of dashboard from 2016, with the BR-V at the top end having Multi Information Display (real time fuel consumption meter)

The Brio, Amaze, Mobilio and BR-V completes Honda first attempt to mass produce a platform with minor retooling and many parts sharing. In Indonesia the numbers speaks for themselves, the increase in Honda sellout year on year is massive, pushed by Brio and Mobilio sellout. However not everything is fine as in India, the Brio and Mobilio sales have been lackluster, only the Amaze helps Honda bottomline from the platform. The main problem lies in the India market itself. As a market with 1+ billion population, India is considered a veritable cash cow for many automotive brands, both domestic and import. As such, potential buyers are flooded with choice. It seems that the Brio with its barebone design and to some extent the Mobilio cannot survive in a competitive market. A stark contrast to Indonesia market where 7 seater MPV is only dominated by Toyota/Daihatsu collaboration Avanza/Xenia for almost two decades, which used as a benchmark really is not that high to begin with.

Personally, I want some changes to the platform, but only slightly. The biggest change I want is to make the floor flat from the first row to the second row seat structure (right now the floor only flat up to the leg area of the second row). This way, the third row will have a natural leg room while the bench seat sits on top of the fuel tank/spare tire/utility space. The new Toyota Sienta uses this kind of seating arrangement to great effect. It’s very simple on paper but perhaps slightly difficult to cram all under smaller package like the Mobilio and BR-V, however the result would be a better seating position for adult on the third row.

For a first effort, the Brio platform offers a good… Well… Platform…. For Honda to develop. Its modularity might hold the key for Honda approach in the future for developing countries. However lesson should be learned from India, the Brio should leverage its cost saving in economy of scale only and not doubling down on cost benefit ratio by choosing cheap material and simplistic interior. The Fit, Civic, CR-V and Accord might be Honda most recognized global model, but will the Brio platform able to be integrated to Honda mainstay portfolio? Only time will tell, and one I eagerly awaits what’s in store for the second generation.