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Honda Brio a cheery bargain


IT’S FAR too easy to fall in love with the things offered by a luxurious lifestyle. As a motoring hack I get exposed to the ways of the “other half” far more than your Average Joe on the street. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy the perks of my job. Few things are more satisfying than smoked salmon in the morning, beef fillet in the afternoon and Egyptian cotton sheets in the evening.

It’s the same thing with luxurious cars. Once you experience electrically operated heated seats and surround sound, it’s hard to go back. Life behind the steering wheel of a Rolls Ghost just doesn’t suck. They say money can’t buy happiness, but I’d rather be sad behind the steering wheel of a Roller than the wheel of a CitiGolf.

You can see then why it’s so easy to get carried away. Pretty soon you start thinking that a car needs to cost at least R200 000 before it can be referred to as delightful.

Luckily, I spent the holidays reacquainting myself with the basic fundamental joys of life. Honda lent me a Brio – the most basic car it makes – and I used it to transport my best friends to a house next to the Vaal River – possibly the least elaborate vacation ever. The Brio, as it turns out, is the perfect holiday transport. Yes, it’s small, but it has an impressive amount of interior space. The four of us had enough room to sit comfortably for the two-hour trip.

The luggage space was another matter entirely. The boot has enough room for one standard male’s necessities for a week-long holiday, or about R600 worth of groceries. Because we’re men, we went with the meat and liquid refreshments. It’s worth saying that size doesn’t really matter in this instance. The Brio is mostly aimed at young people and the youth simply aren’t bothered by how much space they’ve got. All a student really needs is space for his/her friends and a sound system to supply an inspirational soundtrack to their lives.

In this regard the Brio ticks all the right boxes. The interior is funky in an old-fashioned hipster kind of way and Honda has been generous with the standard equipment, especially in the audio department. The sound system not only does a great job of playing music through either a USB or Aux input; it even looks good! I love the oversized buttons and friendly greeting when you switch it on. The volume and track select controls on the steering wheel are an added bonus.

As you’d expect, the interior is mostly made up of hard plastic, but that’s par for the course in this segment. After spending a month with the Brio, I can tell you that the interior is durable and even the most rebellious student will have a hard time inflicting damage to it.

I also appreciated the Brio’s low running cost. The 1.2-litre, four cylinder VTEC engine does an ample job of powering this tiny car and it only uses a small amount of fuel to do so. We averaged just over 6 litres/100km on our trip, which isn’t bad considering the weight the poor car had to lug about.

The Brio reminded me that cheap can indeed be cheerful. My holiday cost almost nothing and if someone asked me now to choose between a weekend in the most luxurious hotel in the world, or another holiday next to the Vaal with my mates, I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat.

I’m not suggesting the Brio is better than a Rolls or Bentley, but for the price, it’s a very good car. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in purchasing a small car in the R120 000 region.

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