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HomeREVIEWSHONDA BR-V 1.5 ELEGANCE

HONDA BR-V 1.5 ELEGANCE

LIVING LARGE IN THE CITY |

Sporting new aesthetics and substantial cabin upgrades, the Honda BR-V now sells itself as an SUV rather than a small MPV as before. But are these changes enough to win over buyers in a market saturated by several compact SUV options? We aimed to discover this during a recent, extended test drive.

Honda has released the second-generation BR-V, and it is apparent that it has gone under the knife extensively. The previous model had a pseudo-MPV design, which has become less popular worldwide. However, the new BR-V has morphed into an SUV, making it instantly more desirable in today’s market. The car is more prominent now, having gained 35mm in length and 43mm in width, leaning successfully into those SUV proportions. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the changes Honda has made and what we think about the new BR-V after living with it for a month.

The front end of the BR-V gets redesigned headlights and a new grille, making the car look bolder and more purposeful. However, the rear design is too soft for our taste, reminding us of the Fit model. The BR-V is available in three variants: the base-level Trend, mid-range Comfort, and the range-topping Elegance. The first two trims come with 16-inch alloys, while the Elegance makes do with 17-inch alloys.

IMPROVED CABIN LAYOUT

The cabin also changed to embody the SUV DNA that the BR-V now boasts. The excessive use of hard plastics around the cabin detracts from the overall perceptions of luxury. That said, the cabin is reassuringly well put together. There are also leather-like inserts in some significant touchpoints, such as the door cards and glove box, which also helped distract us from the scratchy plastics. Our tester came with a 7-inch infotainment system compatible with smartphone integration to give you convenient access to media and navigation functions. It works well, despite being relatively small.

Cabin space increases thanks to larger exterior dimensions. The second row offers 20 mm more space, while the third comes with 30 mm more legroom. The seven-seater setup made family trips much less stressful since all our kids could comfortably nestle into their seats of choice. We were also pleased with the rear occupants’ power outlets, which meant we never had to fight for outlets to charge our devices. However, with all three rows occupied, rear storage space takes a hit at just 244 litres. Should you need more space, both rows can be folded down (split 50/50 for the third row and 60/40 for the second row) to create a panel van-like environment perfect for hauling larger loads.

LIVING WITH THE BR-V

Under the hood beats Honda’s familiar 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that produces 89 kW and 145 Nm of torque, all sent to the front wheels. While the Trend and Comfort models come with a five-speed manual transmission, the range-topping Elegance is equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The CVT transmission proved easy to live with during city driving, as the drive was smooth and hassle-free. However, the BR-V couldn’t escape the typical CVT ‘rubber banding’ on open roads when the engine was under load. With a full complement of adult passengers onboard, the small engine is quite audible in its efforts, detracting from the overall driving experience.

On the bright side, the steering feel of the BR-V is a delight, with feedback from the front wheels consistent and predictable. Although the car is not particularly dynamic, small touches like these add to the driving experience. The noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) levels are also commendably low, thanks to the extra sound deadening, making the BR-V a relaxing cruiser on the highway.

Our extended-term unit, the range-topping Elegance model, came equipped with driver assistance features like a collision mitigation brake system, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. These features made driving less mundane and more comfortable.

Honda claims the BR-V can achieve a fuel economy of 6.4 l/100 km. We never exceeded more than 7.0 l/100 km during our testing, even with some heavy-footed driving.

LAST WORD

Morphing the BR-V from an MPV to an SUV was a smart move by Honda, given the recent popularity of the SUV form factor. Although we would have preferred higher-quality plastics, and a more powerful engine, the BR-V proved capable of handling most of the tasks we challenged it with, particularly as a family vehicle. The car proved more than sufficient for the school run, mall missions, and daily office trips. Adding its competitive pricing makes for an excellent daily driver that won’t break the bank.

The second-generation Honda BR-V is a well-designed car that hits most of the right notes for a family SUV. The exterior redesign to an SUV form factor has made the car more appealing, and the cabin redesign improves passenger space and comfort. Although the engine and some interior plastics could be better, the BR-V offers plenty of practicality and value for money. If you’re in the market for a seven-seater family SUV that won’t break the bank, the Honda BR-V is undoubtedly worth considering.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © HUNTLEYTOGRAPHY / DEVON JANSE VAN RENSBURG

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