To surprise, to fill with astonishment was the definition that popped up when I Googled Amaze. That’s a heck of a badge to use for a diminutive subcompact with an engine displacement that’s less than the largest soda bottle you can buy at the supermarket.
It’s an A-segment number with a price of P712,000, so you have to understand that it’s nothing short of a tall order for Honda to live up to. That being said, I give it a go for seven days to see if the 2018 Honda Brio Amaze Modulo misses the mark or makes it to expectations.
It may be a small and narrow sedan but the nose looks stout due to the compact hood and modest fascia design. The two-bar grille looks more aged than what current models possess and does not extend to the two halogen multi-reflector lamps on either side. It does feel textured and sophisticated thanks to the shiny chrome and angled bars.
Along the sides are three distinct lines that seemingly come from and go in opposite directions that add an extra amount of character to its otherwise unobtrusive presence.
Using 14-inch wheels, it looks like it’s sitting higher from the ground because of its length, or the lack of it at just 3,990 mm. But if you must know, ground clearance is 150 mm. This Brio S model sports the Modulo kit, which is an added P42-45k to the base price.
The pure beige interior is classy but it will stain rather quickly and a quick but close inspection of the fabric on the seats confirms it. I’d recommend a seat cover stat should you decide to get one for personal use so that you may reduce the chances of dirtying it up.
Black is the only other color in the cabin and it is of the dashboard and door control panels. It’s all made of plastic and while it does fit the vehicle’s overall persona, it does seem tacky even for the Brio Amaze. Without a center console, elbow room is aplenty. Leg room really depends on where you’re sitting.
If you’re the driver or front passenger, slide the seats back and cross your legs if you like, but this will be at the expense of the second row. In this cabin, you can’t have it both ways. More leg room up front means less for the people sitting at the back.
It uses a two-din infotainment system, which means no touchscreen. It does have an AUX-in and a USB port but no Bluetooth. Music comes out of four speakers but an audiophile will surely replace these if it’s going to be an every day car.
Engine and performance
Pop the hood and that tiny little space seems cavernous all of a sudden with its a four-cylinder, 16-valve 1.3L engine. The 100-PS it pumps out is just the right number for urban driving. Take it to the highway and it will be a challenge for the engine to stay at 100 kph. Overtaking maneuvers always need to be measure and calculated — all the more reason to in a Brio as there aren’t enough horses to push it at higher speeds. Its 127-Nm of torque makes it feel easily excitable and always ready to go but that’s also partly because of the rather uncouth five-speed automatic transmission. As meager as the engine’s output is, with an estimated laden weight of less than a ton – 990 kilograms to be exact – it doesn’t really need much to get going.
NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels are relatively high but not more than any of its competitors in the segment.
It’s an A for aim and affordability
If, after all of the above, you mindlessly harp on its shortcomings, you’re missing the point – or better yet, the price point. As a sub-1-million-peso vehicle that makes close to 10 kilometers per liter even during horrendous bumper-to-bumper traffic, it has already achieved its goal of being an inexpensive daily beater.
Maintenance costs won’t be anywhere near what it would be like if you were driving a Civic or even a Jazz, plus it’s easier to drive around and take anywhere because it’s the more compact of the three.
For what it does at the price you can get it for, it may not become the teacher’s pet, but the final grade of the 2018 Honda Brio Amaze 1.3 S A/T is total A.
Text and photos by Eric Tipan