Honda came to India in 1998 and became an instant hit with the upper crust of the Indian middle class with the Honda City. When everyone else was driving around in carbureted Maruti Esteems with negligible features, Honda offered the likes of the electronic rear view mirror adjustment. And in the last 18 years of existence, the Honda City has been at the top of its game as one of the most favored cars in India (I should know… I have owned several). Sadly, Honda’s other cars have never enjoyed sales or ‘love’ like the City has. Fast forward to now – 2016. The SUV is clearly king of the Indian automotive segment. And until very recently, Honda did not have an affordable SUV which came with a ‘must-have’ diesel engine. Now they do. After years of dilly-dallying around with prospective products, Honda India finally has a compact SUV to offer in India. And it is the brand new Honda BR-V. Check for review & price of Honda cars
EXTERIORS AND STYLE ;
Based on the Brio platform, the SUV looks quite similar to Mobilio MPV, although the front end and rear profile bear no resemblance to the MPV. The SUV is low and has a van like stance which takes away the SUVish appeal from it. Front gets bold dual chrome slats set on the backdrop of honeycomb grille. The headlamps long and swept back head lamps go well with the two-part chrome grille, giving edge to the square-like bonnet. Lower side of the bumper features rounded fog lamps accentuated by chrome surrounds and there is a silver skid plate placed under the bumper. When you view the SUV from side, it is then that you realise how strongly it resembles with the Mobilio. The sharp character lines on the flanks and similar looking window glass reminds of the MPV. Atop BR-V gets roof rails which lend it height, else the SUV appears a tad short amid rivals. To give it a SUV like flair, black plastic cladding is seen all around the body. As you get to the back, you cannot help noticing the single unit wrap-around tail lamps running across the boot lid. Besides, the rear gets an integrated spoiler, chrome garnish above the license plate and a skid plate under the bumper. Check Price of BRV
INTERIORS AND SPACE ;
Though there is considerable legroom in all the three rows, with the third of course being a bit lesser, the shoulder room is lesser than the other compact SUVs due to the narrower design of Brio platform vehicles. But, surprisingly, the third row manages to seat two adults in a fairly comfortable position The second row seats also get reclinable backrests. Boot volume is a low 233 litres with all seats in use, but a huge 691 litres with the third row folded. The seats themselves are not too narrow or thin, but they don’t offer generous amounts of space or support either. The squabs are also a bit soft – maybe appreciated by drivers and occupants in the cities, but could be a bit tiring during long drives.Compared to the Mobilio, the new BR-V’s cabin is a step up in perceived quality. The dashboard layout is simple, but clean. The test mule we test drove was the top trim and so some of the inserts and elements may not be available in the lower trim variants.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The diesel SUV gets the 1.5-litre i-DTEC engine from the City. The unit is quiet at idling, but gets noisy post 2,000rpm and stays that way to its 4,000rpm redline. But, according to Honda, the NVH has improved compared to the Mobilio. And one can tell both at idle and when driving. The engine makes 99bhp of max power and 200Nm of peak torque. In the real world this means good pulling power even from lower revs. Only catch is to avoid slipping under 1500rpm to avoid the lag. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox which is a little notchy but the light clutch makes easy work of driving in traffic.
The petrol BR-V is powered by a 1.5-litre i-VTEC mill that belts out 118bhp of power and 145Nm of torque. This comes mated to a six-speed manual as well. But, additionally, there’s the option of an automatic, a CVT to be precise. This one too uses a front-wheel-drive layout. The petrol is quieter and more refined compared to the diesel. It revs well too and is best enjoyed when given the stick.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
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.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
The braking system of Honda BR-V features disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. The ABS with EBD is used as a standard in all variants except the petrol E variant. The body shell is made strong with ACE body structure and front dual airbags are introduced in all variants for complete safety of the occupants
Lacks SUV appeal, but stands out for its unique seven-seat layoutThe BR-V is another example of the new Honda. This was once a pioneering company that commanded a premium and was full of innovation, but now it’s playing catch-up and ‘match-the-price’. That’s the sense you get with this car, except that in some crucial areas, it hasn’t caught up. Its performance isn’t class leading, it isn’t thrilling to drive and, most of all, its equipment list lacks some crucial items.But then, it’s got some aces up its sleeve, especially that last row of seats – it’s a unique proposition in this class, and one that will no doubt be a deciding factor for many. But that practicality has come at a cost, and that’s the looks. Though it tries quite hard, it just doesn’t give you the full SUV feeling. In image-conscious India, that’s a big misstep.So, it’s not a car you that will tug at your heartstrings, but it is a practical, reasonably priced and sensible choice, and for some, that will be plenty. Look at it for the sum of its parts and it does make a lot of sense. We just wish there could have been more equipment.