By on March 25, 2011

On March 17, Honda revealed its new low-cost, emerging-market, sales-busting (they hope) Brio. Well, at least in name Honda is looking for a fight as the car’s name, in Italian, means something along the lines of “fighting spirit”. Will it have a fighting chance to make it in Brazil?

According to Brazilian magazine Quatro-Rodas, Honda finally showed its market-ready Brio at Thailand’s Auto Show. Honda do Brasil has confirmed that it intends to build it at its facility in Sumaré, São Paulo state. No word though on pricing for Brazil. The deadline is also quite flexible. Honda will only confirm that it’ll be built in Brazil “until 2013” (whatever that means, let’s hope something was rost in tlansration). Honda hasn’t said yet how many of these little fighting spirit buggers they intend to move here. In the Thai market, the target has been set at 40,000. I’m no expert in that market, but at US$13,800 I expect it to have a difficult time. In Brazil, that would mean R$22,000, but I’m sure Honda has other plans.

Just one more thing on that deadline for Brazil. The compact or subcompact (take your pick) field is very crowded in Brazil. By 2013, Hyundai will have started producing and selling its i15 or 120. Toyota will have launched its Etios, too (read Bertel’s excellent article here). Not to mention that market leader Fiat’s new Palio is just a few months from launch. If Honda waits until 2013, the market will be that much more crowded (and difficult). Wonder why Honda is being so slow?

In Thailand, the baby Honda will come with a 1.2L i-Vtec mill (good for 90 ponies). Though a low-cost project, all Brios will be produced with air-bags, ABS and EBD. You can get it either with a 5-speed stick or a CVT. Honda has already confirmed that this package will suffer variations. The ones that’ll go to India will be different (read less standard equipment).

For Brazil, I’m sure we’ll get an India special if Honda intends to go mass-market. If it chooses to remain in its lofty special-pricing niche (20 percent above what everybody else charges), the market for this car will be rarified.

Finally, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but did Honda have to hit its little puppy so hard with such a big ugly stick?

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18 Comments on “Rio Gets Some Brio...”

  • avatar

    “I’m no expert in that market, but at US$13,800 I expect it to have a difficult time.”

    Hi, autos are quite a bit more expensive here than in US.  For example the Jazz starts near US$20k and the Civic is priced from US$25k – $37k.
    The Brio is priced competitively with the Nissan March which has been selling well.  The low price for the March and Brio also include large government subsidies for meeting the 5l/100km (47mpg US) mark.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Praxis! I think my bit of speculation backfired. I based that statement on the fact that, for example, in a nearby market, India, such things as Maruti 800 and Hindustan Ambassador exist. And these would be priced much lower. Ler’s not forget Nano.

      Who’s sales leader in Thailand? What’s the price?

    • 0 avatar

      Hi, you can see the top 10 here:
      Other than the March there are two other vehicles priced at 400k, the Chery QQ and Proton Savy, although neither sells in considerable volume.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Praxis. Wow if I were to peculate and jump to conclusions, like I did in the article, I’d say that after checking out the list, only rich people buy cars in Thailand! I mean the Hilux costs here well over 40K USD and its most sold configuration is well over 60K USD (clearly in Brazil rich folk car status). For 13K US dollars in Brazil,you’d only buy a basic Fiat Mille (and basic means no power anything, no Airbags no ABS, no A/C, mechanical steering). Chery has promised to sell its QQ here for that amount. But I think it’ll have no airbags or ABS (just power everything – which means here, steering, windows and locks, plus A/C.

      Anyway, at 40 000 units Hondas target is ambitious. That will mean it would slot in at the number 5 slot in top 10. Or the market will grow a lot or somebody will lose a whole lot of sales.

      Let’s how this will pan out. I know our Matt Gasnier will keep us posted.

  • avatar

    As I understand, Marcelo is embedded in .br. If he says something is expensive, then it is. It is TRUTH about the cars, right?

    • 0 avatar

      … however, no Brazilian prices have been announced yet, as I understand it.

    • 0 avatar

      Like I freely admit in my article I was speculating. And I also used it as an artifice to link Thailand to Brazil (in a literary sense). FWIW I find that for 13K USD that standard of equipment is unheard of in Brazil. Yes, it has to do with taxes, but it also has to do with margins. The Brazilian produced Fit is exported to Mexico and sold there for much less than in Brazil. All Brazilian cars in Argentina are priced less, plus they don’t have to swallow 1.0s.

      As Praxis above has corrected me I stand corrected. However, my comments for Brazil stand. You see speculation here is that this car would start at 35K reais . A very lofty price indeed for this market segment even if (a big IF) it comes with all the standard equipment it has in Thailand. My point is still valid. What does Honda want in Brazil?

  • avatar

    Finally, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but did Honda have to hit its little puppy so hard with such a big ugly stick?
    Oi mate, I thought I was the only one thinking that.
    Toyota/Peugeot/Citröen and Suzuki did it WAY better with the Aygo/107/C1 and Alto.

    • 0 avatar

      Hola Stingray!

      Though I think none of the cars you mention are paragons of beauty, the Honda (specially backside) is…something special.

      Thanks for reading!

    • 0 avatar

      I always look forward to read your articles. The resident Casanova/Latin Lover and Herr Über Awesome are also must reads.
      I know it’s wrong that I say this, but the Aygo looks *gasp* cute. Also the interior with some optional gauges looks like a Fisher Price toy, which is why I loved the 1st gen Twingo (still do).
      When your son is born in some months you (and your wallet, they resist a hell of a beating) will love FP toys too.

    • 0 avatar


      Dare I say it? I have a thing for the Twingo, too. Loved the 1st generation, hated what they did with the second.

      In fact, I got some good wheel time behind the wheel of one. Sister had one. Top of line. Cream white. Interior accent pieces in green plastic! Fantastic colorful upholstery. Seats made a bed. Good quality plastics, in a very cheerful and light interior (no gray or black plastics to be found).

      Needless to say, I still miss that car.

  • avatar

    yeah the back is truly unpleasant to behold.  Why did they style it like that?  Yuck.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Pretty sure it’s so that the hatch could consist of a single piece of glass with minimal additional structure, and extending far enough down to have a decent lift-over height. But, that’s been done before, and more attractively. Toyota Aygo, to name one.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    So, is it a variation on the Fit/Jazz or is it a smaller platform?

  • avatar

    I saw a new Renault Clio with Mexican plates the other day. It was MUCH uglier than this Honda. I’d like to see this one in a color other than this hideous metal flake lizard hue. A Jaguar E-type would be Juke awful with this paint job. I don’t like the ghetto taillights or the Korean side treatment much either. The roof looks pretty flat though, and that puts it ahead of every new hatchback released in the past two years as far as I’m concerned.

    • 0 avatar

      The Clio is on to its 3rd or 4th re-skin. Difficult to keep much beauty after so many nips and tucks. But naw, I respectfully disagree. The front of the Honda borders on lame. Boring it surely is. Sleep inducing. The back? The pic says it all. Why pile on?

  • avatar

    Tiny cars for permanently poorer societies: they are coming our way.

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