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BR-V: Honda's answer to Hyundai Creta

Motor Trend India logo Motor Trend India 02-05-2016
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After having seen massive success with its City and Amaze model, Honda has now turned its attention towards the SUV segment. There is no doubt regarding our increasing appetite for SUVs and every car-maker wants a large slice of the pie. At the 2016 Auto Expo, Honda showed the BR-V (Bold Runabout Vehicle) and it will now launch it within a few days time. With the BR-V, Honda is providing a 7-seater SUV plus the petrol option with a CVT gearbox is attractive too which means in many areas, Honda has the upper hand over its competition. The production for the BR-V will take place at the Tapukara facility of Honda in Rajasthan. We have just driven it in Udaipur and below lies our first drive of the BR-V diesel and petrol automatic.

How does it look?

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The BR-V certainly looks good with shades of the CR-V in design. You can clearly see the crossover styling theme is there but it has also got the traditional SUV styling cues with a massive 210mm ground clearance, 16 inch alloy wheels, roof rails, black cladding, skid plates etc. Then the large projector headlamps with LED DRLs plus the generous use of chrome ups its premium quotient considerably. Do note that with a length of 4,455mm, the BR-V is bigger and has more presence than some of the other compact SUVs and that is evident when you look at it from the side, yup, this is no compact SUV and those 16 inch alloys look just about enough size for the car. The BR-V is well styled with sharply cut lines all over and it is actually the best looking car to come out from the Brio platform. Paint finish and build quality is very good.

What about the interiors? Is it spacious?

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It is a Honda, what else would you expect? The BR-V is extremely spacious and that would be its trump card but it is not its only one as there is plenty to like here. Design wise, the interiors are a big step-up and has a more premium look with the dash shared with the recently updated Amaze. The all black cabin looks sporty and overall quality is along with the class standard. So you get a sporty three spoke steering along with a well laid out dash. While there is no touchscreen you get usual features that you would expect like Bluetooth, climate control, steering mounted controls, rear air con vents (roof mounted), push button start/stop etc. In the safety department, good thing is that the BR-V will have dual airbags as standard while ABS is standard on the diesel version. The 2652mm wheelbase means it beats others in the space department easily and being a 7-seater gives it a big advantage here. Ingress and egress is easy and the middle row in particular offers enough space for three while it is best for two passengers. The third row is not an afterthought as the large windows create an airy feeling plus there is decent space. You will not have anything to complain about storage either with plenty of storage places and decently sized door pockets. You can also with all three rows in place the boot space is 223 litres while it is a massive 691 litres with the third row folded. The second row has 60:40 spilt seats which slide and recline while the third row has 50:50 spilt seats. 

How does it drive?

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The BR-V offers four cylinder 1.5 diesel and petrol engines with an all new 6-speed manual being standard while the petrol also has a CVT option. The diesel first and it is the familar 15 with 99 bhp and 200Nm- unchanged figures over the City. What has changed as mentioned earlier is the new 6-spped manual and improving the NVH levels. We noticed a mild improvement in the refinement levels and this new gearbox makes the BR-V a better cruiser. The 6-speed manual has a light clutch and we like the short and snappy shift. Power delivery is nice and linear making it a very easy car to drive in the city. Out on the highway the engine pulls well with hardly any lag making it a very competent mile muncher. You will also not have to stop many times at the fuel pumps either with a class best mileage figure of 21.9 kmpl. We had a short drive in the CVT version which only comes with the petrol engine having 118 bhp and 145Nm of torque. In the petrol range expect this variant to be popular considering the demand for an automatic SUV and the lack of options- especially with a petrol engine. The CVT works well in the city with the driving experience being quite smooth and you have to be light on the throttle to get the best out of this gearbox. For tackling traffic this is a really good option and you can use the paddle shifters for a more engaged driving experience. The CVT petrol is more efficient too with a figure of 16 kmpl as against 15.4 kmpl for the manual. The manual petrol though is the more fun though as the slick 6-speed is matched perfectly with the engine and with the surpisingly strong bottom-end you do not need to constantly downshift as we found out. The BR-V is a big SUV yet it shrinks around you and its a breeze in the city with its light steering while out on the highways, the stability is very good too with the steering being confidence inspiring. The suspension of the BR-V is on the softer side with bumps and potholes handled well plus the large 210mm ground clearance is really handy in going places it rivals would wince.

Final thoughts?

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There are no dearth of SUVs however there are some gaps which the BR-V has filled up nicely. Space is its biggest trump card with the 7 seats being a big draw but it is also nice to drive while being practical and efficient. The petrol CVT will have many takers and with its aggressive expected pricing, Honda no doubt has a winner with the BR-v, despite tough competition.

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