• Wheels24 tested the flagship Honda BRV Elegance model.
• It is powered by a normally-aspirated 1.5-litre engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
• The BRV harks to the roots of the MPVs that proved popular years ago.
A colleague and I from another car publication were chatting about the influx of SUVs and crossovers is out of control.
The local market is inundated with cars that are without are pseudo off-roaders and the public is lapping them up at a dizzying rate.
Prior to the SUV and crossover boom, people bought multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) also known as people movers.
MPVs offer space and practicality for growing families. They’re also softly sprung to offer a comfortable ride and sometimes not half bad to drive too.
The Renault Scenic is the pioneer of the segment and made many family trips easier with its seven-seats and myriad of storage binnacles.
Other options in the MPV game were the Volkswagen Touran and Opel Zafira (we had one in the family).
Image: Sean Parker
The Honda BRV drew a nostalgic feeling with its seven seats, cupholders for the middle and back rows, and offering a decent driving experience.
The BRV is arguably most recognisable with e-hailing services and you're not incorrect in thinking that. But what I did notice during my tenure with the BRV is the number of young families that use them as people movers. And that made me smile, because this car excels in that regard.
It is powered by a zesty 1.5-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine produces 88kW (at 6600 r/min) and 145Nm and is
mated to a six-speed manual transmission. I found the gearbox a real treat to use and enjoyed chucking through the gears. With nothing on board, Honda claims the BRV weighs just 1188 kilograms, it does feel rather light and nippy.
The engine revs well enough to offer adequate performance even from the low down the rev change. The engine is sans a turbocharger, and happily chugs along at high revs in its cruising gear. Interestingly, I never found the engine noise intrusive or irritating on long trips. I took some friends for a day trip to Tulbagh and it performed brilliantly on the national road.
The ride was is comfortable, and there's no wallowing to speak of. It rides on 16-inch wheels with 195/60 section tyres front and rear. There’s a full-size spare wheel located underneath the 691-litre boot’s floor.
In terms of wear and tear, the leather seats and fascia held up reasonably well during the test period. Yes, the door doesn’t feel super solid when closing it but the niceties like key less entry and push button start adding some pizzazz to the Elegance model’s package.
The rear-view camera and touchscreen infotainment system were used often, but I couldn't help feeling a volume knob should be a prerequisite in every car. I used the steering-wheel mounted control to adjust the volume as I didn't want to take my eyes off the road.
The sound system doesn't offer great quality, but it does boast four speakers (two front, two rear) and two tweeters.
The seats are super easy to use, and I managed to easily transport a few items by folding the third row of seats and utilising the large luggage area. The second and third rows can be folded to create over 1100kg of luggage space.
And its that type of practicality that made me warm up to the BRV. It's an honest car, it's not trying to be an off-roader or something overly fancy. It's about getting from A to B safely, in relative comfort.
And that's something to admire in a car these days.
The BRV Elegance (manual) retails for R333 300, included in the price is a five year or 200 000km warranty, and a two year or 30 000km service plan.
Image: Sean Parker