Now Reading
Small but not terrible

Small but not terrible

Mikko David

Toyota Motor Philippines and Honda Cars Philippines unveiled their entry-level models this past week. The all-new Toyota Wigo and the facelifted 2024 Honda Brio are two hot items as car buyers eagerly await what both models have new in store. The mere fact both were launched at popular shopping malls revealed the kind of market these models are going after.

In 2014, Toyota introduced the Wigo as a fuel-saving, eco-car in the Philippine market. It was, and still is, a product of co-development with small car specialist Daihatsu, owned by Toyota.

The Indonesian-made model took advantage of that government’s Low Cost Green Car luxury tax exemption program, which provided incentives for locally produced vehicles that were cheap and energy-efficient.

Designed for emerging markets, the Toyota Wigo and its derivatives, the Daihatsu Ayla, Toyota Agya, and Perodua Axia, became very popular for car buyers on a budget. Aside from the low entry price of P448,000 nine years ago, the Wigo answered the mobility needs of a sizable chunk of the small car segment. Toyota reported a total of 14,306 Wigos sold in 2022, still a commendable sum considering it had been an 8-year-old model with only regular facelifts keeping it fresh over the years.

The Honda Brio soon followed the Wigo that same year. Also a development born out of the Indonesian LCGC program, it too featured small dimensions. But Honda decided to one-up Toyota by introducing a larger displacement 1.3-liter 100 horsepower i-VTEC engine.

The Toyota Wigo once again leads the way with an all-new chassis and design, but with the same 1.0-liter displacement

At that time, anything with an i-VTEC tag was gold. The Brio also had a 5-speed automatic option, one gear more than the Toyota Wigo’s 4-speed auto. And with the Toyota Wigo’s 1-liter 3-cylinder mill only managing 64 horses at that time, Honda had a field day harping its power and technical advantage over its cheaper rival.

But there lay the Brio’s disadvantage, as well. It started with a P599,000 price tag for a manual. This SRP was about P100,000 more expensive than the mid-spec Wigo 1.0G, which also had a 5-speed manual.

We lay this down as a pretext to what the latest iterations of these two models have to offer with their 2024 models. Nine years on, these two are still going at it. Granted that the Honda Brio only sold 3,400 in 2022, but it was a close second to the Honda City which sold 3,500 and just a hundred more than the Honda BR-V which found 3,300 owners last year. The numbers show how closely related Honda customers see the product lineup. It’s as if buying a Brio was the next best thing to getting a City or a not-so-far-off bet over the BR-V.

Now, we see the Toyota Wigo once again leading the way with an all-new chassis and design, but Toyota stuck with the same 1.0-liter displacement, instead shoehorning a CVT to improve fuel consumption and drivability.

Honda worked on enhancing the looks and amenities of the Honda Brio for the 2024 model year. It still maintains a size and power advantage over the Wigo. However, if you look at the pricing, the entry-spec 2024 Brio is more expensive than a top-ofthe-line 2024 Wigo. Both have improved interior amenities and exterior design enhancements. It’s no longer night and day when it comes to styling between these two.

See Also

But perhaps a different way of looking at it, and maybe how the market has been treating both vehicles so far, is to see both models as a progression of wants and needs.

The all-new Wigo and its three variants come decently equipped with the basic amenities, albeit a notch higher in design and quality over the previous generation. The 1.0-liter motor is enough for the daily urban grind and it keeps the price at an affordable spread, from P609,000 to P729,000.

But if you need more power than that, perhaps a bit more of driving refinement, and a little more extra space and girth, then here comes the Honda Brio to the rescue. Everything is what you would expect from a Honda that costs P735,000 to P863,000. And for those familiar with the brand since its arrival a little over 30 years ago, the 2024 Honda Brio won’t disappoint.

So which one should you get? Well, that depends on your budget and needs, really. If last year’s sales numbers are any indication, the Wigo might just again make a killing in the segment. But that doesn’t make the Brio any less of a car. It’s probably just a case of how deep your wallets and wants are.

But one thing’s for sure, it only gets better for the car buyer from here.