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Honda BR-V
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Customer Rating
: 4/5
Expert Rating
: 7/10
Warranty
: N/A (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
Delhi
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
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9.53 Lakhs-13.83 Lakhs

Strong Areas

  • Stylish Demeanour
  • High Safety Equipment 
  • Powerful Performance
  • High Fuel-Efficiency 

Weak Areas

  • Mediocre Handling
  • Average Boot 
  • Cramped Third Row
  • Spartan Interiors
Honda BR-V
 
 

Honda’s BR-V Enters the SUV Bandwagon

With spacious interiors Honda brings efficient diesel engine, powerful petrol engine and the option of a CVT in an SUV. Compliant ride quality and ease of drive make it competent.


Author

By

ecardlr.com National

Of late, we have been doing a lot of reviews for the urban SUVs. The preferences of buyers for this class of cars are evident and every major manufacturer in India including Maruti and Hyundai has launched its model. As per a report by Honda, the SUV segment grew by 43% in the last financial year.


             
 

It was Renault Duster’s success that inspired others to follow in. Ford brought the EcoSport and that too became a leading player. Hyundai launched Creta and Maruti introduced Vitara Brezza after the compact crossover S-Cross. Mahindra has its TUV300. 
 
Honda’s contribution to the urban SUV segment comes with the BR-V. The one advantage that it has over its competitors is that there are 7 seats and the last row is not a pair of small face-to-face make-do combination. The length is more than competitors including Duster, Creta, EcoSport, and Brezza.
 
This SUV was designed by Honda’s R&D department in Thailand and the makers abbreviated BR-V for ‘Bold Runabout Vehicle’. The sales of Mobilio have not been encouraging and so Honda now has high expectations from the BR-V. It shares its platform with the Brio, Amaze and Mobilio but has larger dimensions.


There is choice of both petrol and diesel engines:
 

•    The 1.5 litre diesel i-DTEC churns out 99 bhp at 3600 rpm and 20.4 kgm torque at 1750 rpm  
•    The 1.5 litre petrol i-VTEC churns out 117 bhp at 6600 rpm and 14.8 kgm torque at 4600 rpm 

Both these are coupled with 6 speed manual transmission. One of the trims of petrol is offered with CVT too. 


The Outside Impression 
 
The face of Honda BR-V is not as eccentric as Ford EcoSport but it carries a distinct identity and is different from Amaze and Brio. The bonnet does not have a sharp downward slope as in the Mobilio. With broad air dam, faux skid plates and the chunky roof rails on the top, the BR-V gets its urban road presence.


          
 

The large stretched back headlamps have L shaped pilot light, projector unit for the low beam, multi-reflector unit for the high beam and integrated blinker. Chrome bezel fog lamps have outwardly projected tactile housing. On the grille there is solid chrome garnish and this looks rather overstated. A thinner strip runs below it. The grille has a honeycomb pattern.

In its side profile, the resemblance to Mobilio does not go unnoticed.  BR-V has a length of 4453 mm and this makes it look more like an MPV than SUV.  The ground clearance measures 210 mm and the thick black plastic cladding that goes along bumpers, wheel arches and door panels append ruggedness to the appearance. 

There is a lot of detailing on the door panels and to please the masses, a thick chrome strip also borders the black cladding at the bottom. Honda BR-V gets 16 inch black and silver alloy wheels with 195/60 R16 tyres. The ORVMs have integrated blinkers and this part is shared with the facelifted Amaze. On the whole, while there are similarities between the Mobilio and the BR-V there is a marked difference in the D-pillar as in the BR-V the rear quarter glass does not amalgamate into the rear windscreen.

 
             

 

On the rear Honda gives some discrete design elements to the BR-V. The tail lights fuse together with a band running across the tailgate. Once again there is lavish chrome garnish above the number plate recessed space. Rear windscreen comes with wiper, washer and defogger with the S, V and VX variants. A high mount stop lamp has been affixed inside the car.

The black plastic cladding that comes all the way from front also goes around the rear bumper. To further ornate the look there is a faux skid plate and reflectors on either side. BR-V does not get rear fog lamps and there are no reverse parking sensors. The spare wheel for this SUV has been tucked neatly underneath but it is a steel one and not an alloy. 

With high grade paint job, the BR-V looks premium but the built is light and doors shut with metallic clunk and the bonnet also feels rather flimsy. Furthermore, there are some panel gaps around the bonnet and tailgate areas – these are not expected in a car that sits in a price range of over 8 lakh.


Thoughts on the Cabin 

BR-V is 1666 mm tall and ingress-egress is a breeze. Stepping inside you won’t find the banal dashboard seen in the Brio. The fascia is similar to that of new Amaze but Honda too has done away with the black and beige combination. Instead it uses an-all black colour theme with silver highlights for BR-V’s dash. There is also a grey panel on the side of front passenger breaking the uniformity of all black.


         
 

Quality of plastics used in the cabin is at par with Ford and Maruti. It does not compete with Hyundai that leads in the department. On the whole, the interior parts are assembled well.

BR-V has a limited cabin width of 1735 mm but the glass area is large enough to make the cabin feel airy. There is good legroom and headroom for the front seat occupants. 
 
The visibility upfront from the driver’s seat is good and lateral visibility is also fine. It is the rearward visibility that becomes a concern because of the large headrests in the middle row. Honda has not even provided a rear view camera. Thankfully, the ORVMs are good enough to offer a view of the things behind. The vision on the internal rear view mirror is limited because of the thick D-pillars.


Despite being slim, the front seats are comfortable to be in. There is sufficient bolstering on the sides and the design also gives them a premium feel. The driver’s seat can be adjusted for height and unlike the Mobilio, BR-V has adjustable neck restraints. Seat belts cannot be adjusted for height.


            
 

Honda has done a good job with its cars’ ergonomics earlier and the saga continues in the BR-V. All controls are within easy reach from the driving position and centre console is skewed towards the driver. The steering wheel is nice to grip although thumb contours are not provided. It can be adjusted for rake but not reach. 

The new design seen on the instrument cluster is also from Amaze facelift. It comprises 3 dials that are easy to read. On the MID (the third dial towards the right) there are 2 trip meters, a distance to empty counter, 12/24 clock, odometer and outside temperature reader. There is a graphical bar to check the real-time fuel economy and another to see the fuel level.

BR-V’s infotainment system has Bluetooth connectivity for music and telephony but surprisingly there is no touchscreen system and the display is only monochrome. Maruti Vitara Brezza costs less and still has a more upmarket infotainment setup. Sound quality from the 6 speakers including 2 tweeters in the front is good. 

A pleasant thing in the cabin is the working of the climate control unit. When the summer temperature soars above 38 degrees, this unit does a praiseworthy of keeping the cabin occupants cool. There are 7 adjustment speeds for the blower. The downer is that it gets rather noisy from level 5 onwards. The slider for fresh air and recirculation is manual.


             
 

Now about the storage spaces in the front – there is a pair of cup holders in front of the gear lever. A small cubby hole beneath the driver’s side AC vent is good to keep small things like keys. The glove compartment looks pretty large but has a medium size once you check it opening the lid. Door pockets can hold a 1 litre bottle each.

Rear Cabin 

The large rear doors of this car make getting into the rear part of the cabin as comfortable as in the front. The elderly will also find the ingress-egress easy. Once again, there is ample glass area giving way to light in the cabin and it neutralizes the impacts of all-black colour theme. You get a clear view of the outside from your seat on the window side. The only irritant is that the rear windows do not roll down completely - only up to 85%.

Legroom is impressive for all and the roof is also high enough to make 6 footers sit comfortably. This rear bench seat is better suited to 2 people as the BR-V is less wide than its rivals. It is a 60:40 split seat and can be reclined in 8 steps. It goes back up to 60 degrees. A centre armrest connected with the right hand side seat makes things all the more comfortable. The headrests are also nice but they are not adjustable beyond 2 positions.

 
         
 

Door armrests are wide enough for support and the door pockets as in the front can hold 1 litre bottles. A cup holder behind the handbrake is another space to keep knick knacks. A roof mounted AC unit keeps the rear passengers cool and there are 3 fan speeds. It too gets audible at 2nd and 3rd levels. 

Haul the recline lever of middle row and it easily flips, tumbles forward to make way for getting onto the third row of seat. This place can accommodate an adult of average height but they may not feel comfortable on longer journeys. The quality of seat cushioning is also poor as compared to the other two rows. Knee room is fine if the middle row seats are not pushed back.


            
 

You can tilt back the third row seats in 4 levels for a comfortable backrest angle. The headrests are adjustable to 2 positions. A cup holder and another cubby hole are given on both the sides. The rear speakers are also located here. 

If all seats are in the upright position, you get 223 litres of luggage space in the BR-V. When the 3rd row is flipped forward (and it is done with pull of a strap), the usable space becomes 691 litres. The 50:50 split of the third row backrest makes the boot quiet flexible.

Engine, Transmission and Performance 

The 1.5 litre diesel + 6 speed manual transmission 

Start the engine and you will notice that the refinement has improved although it is still audible as in any SUV. As the rpms increase, you will also feel some vibrations on the clutch pedal.


               
 

The focus of Honda’s 1.5 litre i-DTEC diesel engine is on low-end power delivery and that makes its intercity driveability wonderful. There is hardly any turbo lag in the city and the unit actually responds well right from idling onwards. Power delivery is very linear. Thanks to the tractable nature of this engine, you just need to press the accelerator lightly and it is good enough for commuting in the city. When there is a constant need to shift between the first and second gear, the BR-V gives you an advantage. Simply use the third gear as automatic and it will let you drive between 20 km/hour and 100 km/hour.

BR-V also has good performance on open roads. It has energetic straight line acceleration. In the third gear it is possible to go up to 105 km/hour. Overtaking is easy and you will not find yourself in a nervous position with turbo lag in the middle of an attempt. The absence of lag also makes climbing inclines simpler. 

When you do not try to test the limits of the engine and keep within a range of 1500 to 1800 rpm, the green ECO sign gets illuminated. This economical driving style is based on different parameters including gear selected, speed and road type. 


The short throw manual transmission with well-defined gates is good to use although it does have some notchiness. The clutch is just diesel-heavy. 

We would have appreciated better insulation from road and tyre noise at highway speeds.

The 1.5 litre petrol + CVT

The petrol version of BR-V is available with MT and Continuously variable transmission (CVT). The specs for the 1.5 litre i-VTEC are 117 bhp @ 6600 rpm and 14.8 kgm torque @ 4600 rpm.

If you are opting for the CVT variant just remember that the maintenance schedule for such cars needs to be followed more strictly. A CVT needs change of transmission fluid on or before designated time.


            
 

This automatic BR-V has steering mounted paddle shifters through which you can choose between 7 virtual gear ratios. A gear shift indicator on the instrument cluster, which predefined gear is the car running in. The BR-V CVT does not have ECON button to make the ECU access settings for maximum fuel-efficiency.

As you start the car by pressing the brake pedal and pushing the engine start button, the speed at which it moves when you take your foot off is less than 5 km/hour. This helps in driving the car with just brake pedal management in stop and go traffic.

The drive at city speeds is smooth and automatic gear changing is not frequent. BR-V gets into higher ratio quite early and the throttle response is good considering that it is an automatic transmission car. While the powerful 1.5 litre engine also has its own merits for this model but the quality of CVT cannot be underestimated. For your regular commuting within the city, you will not need to use paddle shifters. The gearbox does all the work on its own.

There is ample power available and Honda BR-V is also pleasing to drive on the open roads. You will make quick progress once you get used to the behaviour of this CVT. The main challenge for drivers new to this arrangement comes in overtaking. If you suddenly hit the accelerator the rubber band effect spoils the attempt. Going pedal to metal is also not advised – here only the engine will overwork and there will be no real progress in terms of speed. In fact, any car with CVT is best to drive in light to mid-range throttle inputs. For overtaking you need to plan and use the paddle shifters. This is one reason why most people prefer conventional ATs instead of CVTs. 

As in the manual version, the ECO light gets illuminated on the instrument cluster when the BR-V is being driven efficiently. 

Ride and Handling 

Honda BR-V is a monocoque SUV that has McPherson strut for front and torsion beam at rear. The match of ride and handling is appreciably good. It is sedan like to drive and the ride quality is pliant for the common road conditions that we in India bear with. Thanks to sufficient ground clearance, the BR-V does not scrape its underbelly on speed breakers. It goes satisfactorily over small and mid size bumps without causing disturbance in the cabin. The advantage also comes due to tad taller tyre sidewalls in comparison to Amaze.

It should also be mentioned that this SUV deals with most of the potholes well. Ride quality is good at both city and highways speeds and the bad quality of tarmac does not make the cabin occupants in the front and middle row uncomfortable. Yes, the ones sitting on the last row will feel the jerks when the going gets tough (read bigger potholes on road). 

The steering is light at city driving speeds but moving out of parking spots is difficult due to the length of the vehicle and the poor rearward visibility coupled with lack of parking camera. Turning radius for the steering in diesel model is slightly more than that of petrol. Also, the steering does weigh up with increase in speed. 

There is controlled body roll and with a sedate driving style, it can be pushed around corners. It maintains its composure on quick lane changing.

Braking action is also fine. The feel is linear & predictable. ABS kicks in rather early.

Fuel Efficiency

With diesel, the Honda BR-V has received ARAI rating of 21.9 km/litre. The petrol engine model has fuel efficiency of 15.4 km/litre in manual and 16 km/litre in its CVT avatar. The slightly higher rating with CVT is due to its ability to cruise at high speed with low rpm. But long term users will know the actual story. Do share your reports on this with us.

Verdict 

The resemblance with Mobilio due to the MPV like length is a feature that may go against it. But there are good things. Its spacious cabin and good ergonomics help the BR-V win some brownie points. Unlike its competitors, it has 7 ‘proper’ seats. There is a powerful petrol engine, an efficient diesel and the option of CVT in the petrol line up. Ride and handling combination is satisfying. 

BR-V is priced between Rs 8.75 lakh and 12.95 lakh. (ex showroom price Delhi)

Comfort: 4/5
Refinement: 3/5
Safety: 3.5/5
Ride: 3.5/5
Handling: 3.5/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5

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