Crossover SUV makes its mark

2017-12-13 06:01
The Honda BR-V.PHOTO:sourced

The Honda BR-V.PHOTO:sourced

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THE arrival of the Honda BR-V on local soil is well timed. Sales figures suggest that buyers are increasingly considering small crossovers and SUVs instead of MPVs and Honda is looking to capitalise on the opportunity with its surprisingly spacious BR-V.

The compact crossover segment is currently dominated by products such as the Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Duster, but the BR-V has a few tricks up its sleeve that buyers will find intriguing.

The BR-V is Honda’s new compact “crossover SUV” offering, slotting in below the HR-V, and combines practicality, affordability and the ability to seat seven passengers. In truth, however, the BR-V is more of a cleverly disguised MPV, masquerading as a SUV. The BR-V range consists of five derivatives across three trim levels and we recently had the high-spec BR-V 1.5

Does the BR-V offer enough value to gain traction in this highly competitive segment? Let’s see what the BR-V has to offer …

The BR-V features distinctive Honda styling traits as seen in the swathe of chrome detailing found on the grille, fog light surrounds, door sills, door handles and tail gate. If you aren’t a fan of extensive chrome, then you might find the BR-V a tad OTT (over the top). Its boxy shape is softened with slim headlights, roof rails and extended tail-light clusters that give it a more purposeful look. A set of stylish 16-inch alloy wheels are fitted as standard and this particular test unit came in the Carnelian Red exterior colour (three other colours are on offer).

Overall, we think Honda has done a good job in creating a relatively attractive family vehicle and the BR-V seems to pip its seven-seat rivals (Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga, Mahindra Xylo) in the looks game.

The BR-V is powered by the same naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine that’s found in the HR-V, Jazz and the now discontinued Mobilio MPV. It’s a zingy motor that develops 88 kW and 145 Nm of torque and those numbers drive the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.

Power delivery in the BR-V, with minimal load, is good. The BR-V gets a move on and happily chugs away at highway speed without much effort. Under harder acceleration, however, the engine starts to whine and strain, but in normal driving conditions, engine noise is bearable.

When the BR-V is fully loaded with passengers and luggage, performance becomes more sluggish and the driver will be working the gears and engine harder to compensate for the additional weight.

Being a new vehicle we did find the transmission a bit notchy and stubborn at times and it occasionally required additional force to shift into gear. This characteristic should improve once the vehicle has done sufficient mileage, though.

We were impressed by the BR-V’s impeccable road manners. It handles well and delivers a surprisingly composed and comfortable drive, even on puckered road surfaces. Despite its dimensions, the driver can confidently steer the BR-V into corners and it’s nippy between traffic lights too.

Also, note that the BR-V has a ground clearance of 210 mm, which means it can hop the odd pavement if you need it to. The generous ground clearance and plump tyres (196/60 R16) also means that the BR-V is quite comfortable on gravel. Note, however, that no electronic stability system is fitted.

In terms of fuel consumption, Honda claims 6.3 L/100 km and during our test period, we averaged 7.1 l/100 km with ease.

You can, however, expect higher figures if the BR-V is fully loaded.

In terms of loading space, with all the seats in place, the BR-V still offers 223-l capacity in the rear. With the third-row seats folded up, space increases to a 691 l, and when the second row of seats are folded down, space increases to 1 116 l.

Practicality is a clear strength of the BR-V and it should prove to be a particularly attractive proposition for small families.

The BR-V 1.5 Elegance is decently equipped with standard features, including keyless start, leather upholstery, climate control air conditioning, electric windows and side mirrors and a multi-information display.

A rather simple radio system is installed, which is Bluetooth compatible and easy to use. USB and auxiliary ports are fitted as standard.

The BR-V only has two air bags and ABS with EBD and brake assist is standard.

The Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance manual is priced from R281 100 and is sold with an excellent five-year/200 000 km warranty and two-year/30 000 km service plan.

Pricing for the BR-V 1.5 Comfort starts at R260 500, while the most expensive derivative in the range is the BR-V 1.5 Elegance CVT priced at R296 900.

The Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance is a well-packaged crossover SUV that offers lots of space and versatility for a variety of family tasks.

Engine and gearbox performance is decent­ in most applications and unless you are loading the BR-V up to capacity on a regular basis, there should be enough power at your disposal.

- Supplied.


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