Last year both Honda and Mitsubishi unveiled new minicar concepts previewing their respective small car futures--Honda with the Brio Prototype and Mitsubishi with the Concept Global Small.

Since then Mitsubishi has confirmed the production version of its Concept Global Small for eventual sale in the U.S. The Honda Brio, meanwhile, is still only destined for sale in Asian markets and today has been revealed in production trim. 

Set to enter production later this year at a plant in Thailand, the new Honda Brio will feature a 1.2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with 90 horsepower on tap. This engine will be matched to either a conventional five-speed manual or a CVT.

Measurements come in at 142 inches in length, 66 inches in width and a height of 58 inches. That's fully 20 inches shorter than the 2011 Honda Fit, and even 3 inches shorter than a MINI Cooper.

The combination of a compact and lightweight body plus a downsized engine promises to deliver excellent fuel economy, possibly the highest gas mileage of any of Honda’s current crop of cars including hybrids. 

Will we see the Honda Brio in North America? Almost surely not, at least in the near term. Like many models aimed at low-cost emerging markets, the Brio is likely to dispense with multiple airbags, electric accessories and other features required to sell a car in the U.S.

As Mazda and Ford both learned with their 2011 Mazda2 and 2011 Fiesta subcompacts, re-engineering a subcompact to meet U.S. safety standards is complex, expensive, and time-consuming. For the moment, the 2011 Honda Fit is likely to remain the smallest Honda sold in the States.



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