Full Throttle

Discovering India, with the Honda Brio

For most of us, Karnataka means the 'erstwhile garden city' of Bangalore, which has now been transformed into a concrete jungle. But beyond the city, there's a pristine, unexplored expanse of countryside spread over the profusely green Western Ghats. Honda's Drive to Discover programme explores such unexposed splendour of India while rediscovering the joys of driving a Honda car. So when Honda invited me to drive the Brio from Goa to Bangalore across the Ghats as part of the Drive to Discover event, I didn't think twice about joining them.

My tryst with the Brio began with a ceremonial flag off at Coastal Honda in Goa. It was a rainy morning; the party capital still asleep, streets deserted, hymns from nearby churches wafting through the raindrops...what an ambiance to begin the drive!

Since there was no predetermined route or timetable to stick to, we started sauntering along the coastal highways of Goa in two sticker-clad Honda Brios. As we crossed the Goan border, monsoon clouds slowly drifted away and the morning sun shone through the Brio's window.

The broken letters on the 'Welcome to Karnataka' signage were suggestive of the broken roads ahead. Heavy monsoons have carved craters all along the coastal highway. But the Brio remained unfazed on the roads completely ravaged by rain. There was very less noise sneaking into the cabin and I was really impressed with the Brio's ride quality.

Karwar port is the only natural harbour in Karnataka. Also, Karwar is the only naval base in India exclusively available to Indian Navy. Near the port, the highway passes along the beach front and we took the Brios briefly onto the beach for a photoshoot. Wheels of the blue Brio got stuck in a tricky patch of sand but it was no sweat for us to extricate this extremely light machine from the wheel-deep sand. The beach was getting hotter in the humid weather and we rushed back to the comforts of the Brios. I must mention here that Honda Brio has one of the most powerful air conditioners in its class.

A few kilometres from Karwar, we started a steady ascent along the road that tore through the luxuriantly green Western Ghats. As a preview to the magnificent Jog Falls, there were gorgeous streams awaiting us at every turn. Weaving through the meandering curls toward Jog Falls, the Brio behaved beautifully, keeping good poise and balance.

It's monsoon and needless to say, Jog Falls looked as majestic as ever. With half the day at our disposal and pit stop for the day being just 100 kilometres away, we decided to trek down to the base of the falls. There are 1500 steps that take you down from the view point and we ran down fervently. Oh boy! words fall short of expressing how it felt basking in the waterfall mist and also how we managed to climb up the same 1500 steps. Phew!

The second day's drive was mostly across the deserted highways across farmlands. There was hardly anything to distract us from appreciating the many facets of the Brio. Even so, we passed by some breathtaking sunflower and marigold fields against the backdrop of which the Brio looked absolutely dazzling. Moreover, the little car's high speed stability and braking prowess were remarkable.

Although we were all drained after the two day drive, it was still fun to zip the Brio around in Bangalore's crazy traffic. Brio's light steering, compact dimensions and the i-VTEC motor's wonderful low end grunt make city driving less nerve-wracking.

Finally, I handed over the Brio's key to Honda's officials. Two days and 630 kilometres with the Brio was an exquisite experience, thanks to the car's fantastic i-VTEC engine, sedan-like comfort and impeccably crafted interiors. And yes, the Brio returned a mileage of 14.7 in city and 16.9 on highway.

The Brio's journey doesn't end here; an automatic variant is all set for next month's launch and testing of the diesel Brio is on full swing. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

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Drive to Discover is a programme organised by Honda as an opportunity for automobile journalists to explore India's incredible diversity in a Honda car. This time, the Honda Brio travelled all the way from Jammu to Trivandrum down South, covering a distance of more than 4800 kilometres spread over multiple legs.

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