2016 Honda BR-V Review: First Drive
It won’t be an exaggeration to state that Honda brought a sense of premiumness in the mid-size sedan market in India. The Japanese car maker has always had a clear focus of not being the herd type and mass inject the market with unnecessary products instead take time and understand the segment before venturing into it.
This approach was tagged as being ‘too conventional’ for mainstream but then the brand earned dividends with the launch of new generation products. In fact, the acceptability of the brand increased substantially helping them achieve a growth 185% from 2010 to 2014. Incidentally, India also happens to be Honda’s fourth largest market and thus the efforts to make sure the products as well as production capacities meet the growing demands of the market are totally justified.
Making sure the momentum is maintained, Honda will enter into a new segment with its most talked about crossover – the BR-V, in 2016. Though the company insists on calling it a crossover, in real world condition, it will stand against other compact SUVs as well. Should you wait till the next year for this? We find out in our preview drive.
The design of 2016 Honda BR-V is based on the new Active-Solid Motion language which brings a sense of flow to make it look premium as well as add the necessary tough elements by giving it a bold exterior. The same is vindicated when the front profile is considered which is reminiscent of the Honda CR-V. This particular trait will work in favor of the BR-V for the target customer to strike an instant connect.
The sleek headlights along with the macho and solid chrome band flowing along the width consist of the upper half of the profile. A closer look also reveals the additional details connected to the grille like the smaller section underneath as well as the wire mesh between the front grille and the bumper. The headlights feature projectors without daytime running lamps. We feel the same shall be added in the final production top end variant.
The front bumper gets a taller central area with larger central air intake section. Fog lamps come with a chrome surround and there are characteristic arches on the bumper. There are bash plates, finished in brushed aluminum, under both the front and rear bumpers. The bonnet placement is also taller and features power lines along its edges. To the silhouette, there are flared wheel arches with rugged matte cladding running over the wheel arches and along the rocker moulds flowing throughout the lower profile.
There are wedge lines on the side to make sure the length does not get a bland look and the larger sheet metal area gets covered smartly. Again interestingly, the window line rises from the front wheel arches before dipping down under the B-Pillar and then again rising towards the rear profile giving both the front and rear windows greater visibility. The window outline is blackened while the ORVMs come in a two-tone finish with turn indicators embedded in it. There are bright aluminum finished roof rails as well. The ground clearance of the Honda BR-V is 201mm and it runs on 196/60 R16 tyres with machined alloys.
The rear quarter view too continues to look as inspiring as the front with a solid D-Pillar wrapped around the tail section. Even the subtle flair on the rear wheels is carried to the tail lid. It has to be the rear which earns more points for this one seeks inspiration directly from Honda Odyssey making it look totally international. Even the tail gate looks well proportionate to the overall design and has uniquely styled joint taillamps. The larger rear windshield makes it easy to maneuver the car in reverse. The registration display area is positioned at the lower section with a chrome garnish.
Inside the Honda BR-V, the interiors again remind you of the one in Mobilio and Jazz with a similar layout and feel. Agreeably, Honda’s knack of maintaining its appeal by giving a stronger built quality and well trimmed interiors has always worked in all its cars and the same will be seen in this new crossover.
Firstly, getting inside is not difficult even for taller passengers as the larger front and rear doors guarantee good ingress and egress. The seats came in two versions, the first being rich quality leather and the second with premium fabrics. We expect the BR-V to sport the former as standard in their top end variant. The front row seats are comfortable and can be easily adjusted according to any size of passengers but then they aren’t wide enough which makes it a tight squeeze. Similarly, in the second row everything is acceptable and the larger window area also offers proper visibility but then passengers might have to fight it out in terms of space. There is a third as well but with a flatter profile, its best for kids and luggage.
Even though, conventionally, India has a liking for beige interiors but personally all-black finish has always been my favourite as they tend to make the cabin look a lot classier. On the BR-V, it is very straight cut and simple with the familiar layout of things. The steering wheel has controls to alter volume and change mode of entertainment while the instrumental cluster is simple triple-ring binnacle with a chrome surround. There is a gear shift indicator too located inside the tacho ring. One can access all information about the vehicle regarding trip readings, mileage and instantaneous consumption on the third screen.
The central console sports a touchscreen unit with navigation and Bluetooth compatibility. One can also stream music using a phone as well as connect via USB and Aux-In options. It also gets a piano black finish around the central area. Just below that is the air-conditioning system with automatic climate control but this one is not a touchscreen type like that in the Honda City and instead has conventionally styles buttons to operate with a digital temperature display.
In terms of practicality, there are multiple storage options like the twin cup holder on the central zone, pockets on door trims, glove box, one common pocket for the rear occupants and a large boot space. We do not have the exact quantity of bootspace as this was a prototype and not an actual production variant. Even then the boot space looked sufficiently large to accommodate multiple bags. There is also an option of folding down the third row of seats to increase the boot space.
Honda will offer the BR-V in two engine trims of petrol and diesel. The diesel will be the 1.5-litre motor that is also seen in the Honda Jazz and the Honda City. Similarly, it will produce 98 bhp of power and 200 Nm of torque. It will come with a six-speed manual transmission. The diesel typically will serve well for the highway mongers but then for the city commuters, it will be the petrol doing rounds.
We got a chance to test drive the Honda BR-V under a controlled environment at a specified speed on a special track. The duration was too less for us to form definite judgements about the riding dynamics and the overall performance but based on our brief experience with the car, we concluded the following.
Firstly, the 1.5-litre iVTEC engine will power the petrol variants and will come with a six-speed manual transmission. In addition, Honda will also offer the same engine with a seven-speed CVT transmission. This 1497cc motor makes 118 bhp of power at 6000 rpm and generates an impressive 145Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. The power delivery has been deliberately tuned in such a way to order more push in the lower range.
Honda also claims to have made the engine smoother than before and has been tweaked according to the body type. Even the efficiency has been increased by usage of low friction rings along with piston stroke noise reduction. Also, tackling criticism against this transmission, Honda has developed a new CVT unit for small sized engines. This has helped in reducing the lag by quicker acceleration from standstill as well as reduced overall weight of the unit increasing the mileage.
The drive on the flat profiled track was done in the 1.5-litre CVT variant. It did feel sluggish at lower engine speeds but once the engine enters the lower range, the motor feels livelier. The transmission has a low ratio high torque mode for the initial push while climbing hilly sections. The motor revs smoothly across the power band and the shifts too are smooth.
However, as we drove around corners at speeds of 70 km/hr, there was no body roll as such since the overall exterior profile has been designed to offer lesser resistance. The suspensions have been tuned to offer a more rigid ride compared to that of the MPV. The steering lacked direct response but seemed to gain weight at higher speeds which will make it convenient on highways. The brakes too offered decent levels of bite to stop the vehicle at any given speed without any hassle.
|Variant||E - CVT|
|Power in Bhp/RPM||118 / 6600|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||145 / 4600|
|Wheel base mm||NA|
|Ground clearance mm||201|
|Fuel tank capacity L||NA|
|Tyre Spec||195/60 R16|
|Electric Power Steering||Yes|
|Electric Power windows||Yes|
|AC with Heater||Yes|
|Key less entry||Yes|
|Electrically adjustable ORVM||Yes|
|Fuel consumption display||Yes|
|Headlight Height adjuster||Yes|
|Integrated Audio system with 4 Speaker||Yes|
|Front Fog Lamps||Yes|
|Dual tone beige interior color scheme||Yes|
|Steering mounted audio control||Yes|
|ABS with EBD||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||E - CVT||SX Plus|
|Engine||1.5L iVTEC||1.6 Dual VTVT|
|Power in Bhp/RPM||118 / 6600||122 / 6400|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||145 / 4600||154 / 4850|
|Gears||CVT||6 - MT|
|Wheel base mm||NA||2590|
|Ground clearance mm||201||183|
|Fuel tank capacity L||NA||60|
|Tyre Spec||195/60 R16||205/65 R16|
The first comment that would come in your mind is about the pricing of the Honda BR-V and rightly that shall be a crucial decision making point for Indian audiences. From our first impression, we are sure that Honda looks all geared up to enter the segment with a great bang and will make other crossovers worry of their existence. The exterior design will find many takers as it has an enthusiastic yet premium approach. Inside, the interiors will be even more premium and Honda will fill the cabin with multiple and highly relevant features.
Since this one is a prototype, the final production variant will feature higher levels of finishing. Till then, we need to be patient and keep an eye on this new breed of crossover. Yes, that also means you should hold on to your buying decisions for the next few months.