The new Honda BR-V is many things. You could call it yet another city SUV in a segment that has the hot selling Hyundai Creta and the recently updated Renault Duster. You could call it a meaner, more desirable version of the Honda Mobilio. Or, you could even think of it as the most sensible buy in the up to Rs 10 lakh price brand, for it has three rows of seating. But, how is it as a product? A day in Rajasthan did present us with some answers.
The BR-V looks best from the front three quarter. That huge chrome grille, the big headlamps, the chunky bumper complete with a pseudo skid plate, does give the BR-V SUV overtones. The tall roof rails helps too.
It's not the best looking SUV when viewed from the rear, though. But, it does look distinct, even if a tad busy with those large wrap around tail lamps and reflectors running across the width of the tail gate. It is in profile, that the BR-V fails to mask its Mobilio roots. It runs larger 16-inch wheels (which strangely still look under-tyred), has 30mm higher ground clearance at 210mm, and runs the mandatory black cladding (mandatory for city cars posing as SUVs, Duster and Creta included). But, the doors, the roof line and even the rear quarter panel screams Mobilio.
Now, if you haven't heard or seen a Mobilio, which is possible given the MPV didn't do too well, you might not be able to draw comparisons. And if you can't, then you will end up liking the overall presence of the BR-V.
We are in the top of the line VX trim. And it certainly feels better than the Mobilio here. But, it can't match the Creta for opulence, quality or the feel good factor. The design is likeable though - lots of lines, cuts, surface changes and finishes. It might lack harmony but is attention grabbing.
The BR-V's insides are ergonomically sound too. The driving position is more car like than SUV, and therefore feels natural and comfortable. The steering, the gear shifter, and the pedal positioning feels absolutely right. Even the controls - stalks for light and wipers, buttons for climate control and stereo, and the accessibility to the various cup and bottle holders and stowage spaces is easy to get used to.
Space, of course, is a big plus. The BR-V isn't as wide as the Duster or the Creta, so shoulder room isn't exactly impressive. And three adults in the second row is a squeeze. But, in terms of head room and making one believe that they are in a spacious car, the Honda BR-V does really well. Managing kneeroom for all three rows of occupants is what the BR-V excels at thanks to a sliding second row. And if you are going to be using the BR-V for weekend getaways, the boot space works out fine too, even with the last row in place. Plus it has comfortable seats and all of them recline. It's also easy to get into the last row courtesy the full tumble function for the second row of seats. The low ingress height helps too.
Feature wise, the Honda BR-V struggles to match up to the Hyundai Creta. It gets keyless entry and go, a multifunctional steering wheel, single zone climate control with rear aircon vents and a trip computer as well. Plus, the BR-V gets front dual airbags as standard across all variants. But, unlike the Creta, you can't have the BR-V with six airbags, or a touchscreen multimedia system with internal memory and satnav, or (and this is a big miss) parking sensors; forget a reversing camera.
The Honda BR-V gets two engine options, both 1.5-litre, four cylinder units. The same ones that power the Honda City. The petrol makes 118bhp of max power and 145Nm of torque. It is an engine that's known for its nice sound, its refined nature and its ability to deliver both in the mid and top end of its rpm range. And it is no different in the BR-V. The only real downside if at all is the shift quality of its 6-speed manual. It's a little too notchy for our tastes. The petrol also comes with a CVT option for a less strenuous drive.
The diesel, meanwhile, makes 99bhp and 200Nm of torque. And it too comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox. There is however no CVT or automatic option for the diesel yet. As you'd expect, the diesel is the torquier of the two. And even though it has a much smaller power band, it gathers momentum without a fuss. Only thing to note here is to keep that rpm needle over the 1500rpm mark, because otherwise the lag will bog you down. Now Honda says, in order to derive this peppiness from the engine - not to mention enhance its pulling power (for it is an SUV) - the final drive ratio (compared to the City which runs the same engine and gearbox combo) has been shortened. And again, like the petrol, the gear shifts for this 'box are notchy and require some effort.
The one thing we loved about the Mobilio and as an extension like on the BR-V as well, is its ride and handling ability. Compared to the Mobilio, the suspension has been stiffened to compensate for the increased weight but the travel remains unchanged even though the BR-V sits higher than the MPV.
As a result, when travelling alone or two up, the firmness in the ride is obvious. Having a slightly noisy suspension doesn't help matters either. But load it up, and the ride improves. There's hardly side to side movement and the BR-V ends up absorbing bumps with a fair bit of suppleness. This should be great news for those who want a long distance tourer packed to the gills with food and family.
This setup helps the Honda BR-V when you want to push it a little harder than one would think is sensible. We didn't get too many corners, but from whatever little we did, we liked the quick and predictable steering response, the sure -footedness, and the reined in body roll. Something we did get a lot of, however, was undulating stretches, long and fast corners, and wayward motorcyclists. And in these conditions, the BR-V shone. It rides flat over undulations no matter what speed, feels planted and adjustable around fast bends, and brakes brilliantly with hardly a twitch when a motorcyclist turns into your path without looking.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||99 @ 3600||119 @ 6600|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||200 @ 1750||145 @ 4600|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||42||42|
|Tyre size||185/65 R16||
|2-DIN music system||Yes|
|Rear AC vents||Yes|
|210mm ground clearence||Yes|
|Keyless entry and go||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||110 PS 4X2||SX (O)||VX|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||108 @ 3900||126 @ 4000||99 @ 3600|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||248 @ 2250||265 @ 1900||200 @ 1750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||50||60||42|
|Tyre size||215/ 65 R16||215/ 60 R17||185/65 R16|
The Honda BR-V might be many things, but as of now it must seem like a great buying proposition to both upgraders, and first time young car buyers. The BR-V has the dynamics, the flexibility, the economy and the brand to do it. But, it can't match the likes of the Creta in terms of upmarket appeal and desirability. It's also not exactly SUV material with long overhangs and no all- wheel drive option.
And therefore, it must be priced very aggressively. Rs 8.5- Rs 10.5 lakh for the petrol and Rs 9.5 lakh to just under Rs 11.5 lakh for the diesel could work wonders here. If the BR-V hits these numbers, it's a thumbs up from our end.
Photo Courtesy By : Kapil Angane