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ICHI, NI, SAN

Honda BR-V | HR-V | Civic RS 

With decades of presence in Mzansi, Honda has enjoyed recognition as a manufacturer of accessible and reliable family vehicles. While this would be good enough for some, it appears that Honda aims to reinvent itself. It recently launched three exciting products that seem geared to penetrate niche premium segments in the market. 

HONDA BR-V

Our first focus model is the improved Honda BR-V. As part of the second generation upgrades to the vehicle, the car has ditched its MPV origins for a traditional SUV look, which works well in its favour. The design changes come from a 35 mm and 45 mm increase in length and width, respectively. However, the bold facia with new LED headlights and a proud grille is easier to spot. Sharp lines running along the shoulder of the car also add some definition to the overall design, while 17” alloys add to the car’s aesthetic appeal. 

Three trim levels are on offer – Trend, Comfort, and Elegance. Depending on the model, you can expect a host of amenities, including a 7” infotainment unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, synthetic leather upholstery, keyless entry, and a host of driver assistance and safety features, among others. With its increased dimensions, the car boasts boosted practicality and space, with Honda stating that the BR-V offers the luxury of a seven-seater and the sensibility of an MPV.

The bonnet houses a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that produces 89 kW and 145 Nm of torque. Depending on the model, buyers can choose either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT. With these pairings, Honda claims that the car returns 6.3 l/100 km, making this a potentially fuel-efficient family vehicle.

HONDA HR-V

Taking a step into the premium space is the new HR-V, which sees extensive upgrades in its third generation. While we have already covered the car in a full-length review, it still deserves further mention. As impressive as the BR-V is, the HR-V takes practicality and style up a notch. Although leaning towards the lifestyle market as far as aesthetics are concerned, the HR-V ventures into coupé territory. There is no ignoring its sharply-raked C pillar, the one-piece LED taillight, the flat bonnet, and the car’s athletic proportions. These design features are complemented by clean lines that endow the car with an air of elegant sportiness. If the looks of approval we experienced during the launch drive of the car are any indication, it is that the design appeals to a large audience.

The interior also tips its toe into premium territory. The entire cabin is wrapped in high-quality materials that give off an air of luxury. Ergonomics was also critical during the design process, seeing how everything falls naturally to hand. Physical controls have been retained for the climate control system. The car also gets ambient lighting, an 8” touchscreen infotainment system replete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an eight-speaker sound system, and a panoramic sunroof for the top trim – all complemented by an elegant cabin layout designed to treat passengers to comfort and luxury.

As for the drivetrain, the car makes do with a 1.5-litre Chain Driven DOHC i-VTEC engine that churns out 89 kW and 145 Nm through its CVT transmission. Honda also claims that the car will do 6.0 l/100 km in fuel consumption.

HONDA CIVIC RS

Possibly the most exciting new entry from Honda, the new Honda Civic RS impresses in many respects. Available here strictly in RS trim, the car boasts a stylish exterior pack and RS touches to the interior. This makes it a competitive option in the small sedan segment, based simply on what the car offers.

Visually, the car is the furthest thing from bland. Thanks to RS-specific touches, the car is shod with matte black 18” alloys, gloss black fixtures, and an assortment of enticing paint options. The interior is also nothing to scoff at, thanks to the leather and suede seats, ambient lighting, contrast stitching, and an array of technological features that would please the younger generation.

The car is motivated by a 1.5-litre turbocharged i-VTEC petrol engine that delivers 131 kW at 6,000 rpm and peak torque of 240 Nm between 1,700 and 4,500 rpm. The transmission choice is limited to a CVT transmission, which should help the car achieve good fuel economy. It is also worth noting that the transmission comes with Honda’s ‘Step-shift’, which simulates gear shifts during acceleration to inspire an exciting driving experience.

LAST WORD

It is exciting to see Honda take the initiative to enter new territory. While Honda is well renowned for its reliability, its reputation for luxury is less pronounced. With these new cars, perspectives are bound to shift for the better. Without straying far from its brand identity, Honda has shown that it is more than capable and is up to the task of having a share of the premium segment pie. 

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © Honda South Africa

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