Test Drive Review : Honda BR-V

Test Drive Review : Honda BR-V

What’s This?

This is Honda’s entry-level crossover offering after the successful HR-V. However, unlike the HR-V which is a 5-seater crossover using the Jazz/City platform, and priced above RM 100k, the BR-V is built on the Brio/Amaze/Mobilio platform, seats 7 and comes in at under RM 100k. This Bold Runabout Vehicle was developed by Honda R&D Asia Pacific (based in Thailand), for emerging markets but with safety standards of more stringent markets.

The review unit is the V variant, the higher of the 2 variants offered in Malaysia.

What About It?

Honda BR-V Chrome Grille Malaysia Test DriveAnd just like its name, and all new Hondas, this BR-V wears the brand’s ‘solid wing face’ with angular projector headlights (complete with LED daytime running lights) and a bold chrome grille. Designed with the “Active Solid Motion” concept, it features plenty of body creases and character lines. The integrated rear spoiler, cladding surrounding the wheel arches and bottom of the BR-V as well as the standard roof rails give it a sporty, outdoors-y appearance. This look is further enhanced by skid plates and best-in-class ground clearance of 201 mm, but make no mistake, the BR-V wasn’t designed as an off-road vehicle.

At the rear, the tail lights are joined by a reflective bar (reminiscent of the China-only XR-V; a variant of HR-V) probably to give it a wider appearance but doesn’t quite nail it likely due to its more upright stance and a tapering top half. The 16″ dual tone alloy wheels fit its character well and replacement cost for 16″ tires is at an acceptable level.

What’s Inside?

The BR-V wheelbase has been stretched another 10 mm over the Mobilio (also a 7-seater but not sold in Malaysia) and this gives the BR-V more cabin space. The 2nd row seats (all seats are a leather-vinyl combination) are 60:40 split-fold and can slide backward and forward as well as recline for added versatility. It also comes with an easy one-flip tilt and tumble for convenient access to the 3rd row.

Honda BR-V 3rd Row Seats, Malaysia 2017The 3rd row is a 50:50 split that also features an easy-fold mechanism. However, the bench can only be tumbled when both backrests are folded down. The 3rd row also showcases Honda’s ingenuity in interior packaging as it’s one of the more adult-friendly 3rd rows rivaling that of bigger 7-seaters (unless you’re really tall). The downside is the vehicle’s width of 1,735 mm limits seating comfort in the 2nd row for 3 adults. For the rear occupants, roof-mounted air-con vents ensure quick cooling.

The dashboard design is adapted from the latest Mobilio and is made up of mostly hard plastics; it at least comes in several different textures that are pleasant to look at. This is expected in an entry level vehicle and I doubt many BR-V users will run their hands over the dashboard every day. However, the functionality of the interior isn’t compromised with many storage cubbies; there are 11 cup holders in the vehicle that double up as storage if you’re not very thirsty. A front armrest would be a nice touch to have though.

Honda BR-V V Variant Infotainment Malaysia 2017In the V variant, the dashboard houses climate control with physical buttons and a 6.1″ touchscreen which also displays reverse camera view but makes do without navigation. The leather-wrapped steering wheel, which looks similar to a 2013 Jazz’s, has steering mounted controls for audio.

With all seats occupied, the BR-V has a cargo space volume of 223 liters that expands to 539 liters with the 3rd row folded giving it ample space. The rear torsion beam set-up contributes to this extra cabin space.

What’s Underneath?

Moving the BR-V is Honda’s 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC engine that produces 120 PS and 145 Nm of torque, and is paired to a 7-step continuously variable transmission (CVT) developed under Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology philosophy for improved fuel efficiency; this CVT was also tweaked for better acceleration.

What’s It Like?

It’s unsurprising that some wonder if a 7-seater powered by a 1.5-liter engine and CVT can effectively climb a hill. Due to a tight schedule, we couldn’t load the BR-V with 7 people and had to make do with about 240 – 250 kg worth of people and cargo for a trip to Genting Highlands.

On the twisty roads, we felt some body roll (no surprise there) but there was minimal sliding of occupants (who were all belted) or cargo. The engine revved high on the inclines and sounded loud (especially at speeds beyond the legal limit), which could be mitigated by additional insulation, but noise in the cabin wasn’t at a level where you need to shout to converse.

Honda BR-V Rear Three Quarter Malaysia Test DriveOn the positive side, the CVT worked in a responsive manner when overtaking or climbing slopes so there was hardly a moment where the BR-V felt low on power. This doesn’t mean it’s a fast sprinter but we did manage to overtake a few vehicles going uphill so power delivery is quite well sorted out. Regardless, this is meant to be a family vehicle and in that aspect, it’s not lacking in potential. Traffic light dashes in the city shouldn’t be a problem and will be even faster with a bigger engine but we can’t have it all at this price point. Nonetheless, there’s an S mode if you need to drive more aggressively and hold on to a gear a little longer.

Honda BR-V Rear Drum Brake, MalaysiaThe brakes feel linear in bite and hold well even when coming down from Genting, despite the rear using drums (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the ventilated front discs do most of the work) and the suspension is a nice compromise between comfortable and firm; it soaks up bumps adequately while maintaining a stable ride i.e. very minimal float-y feel.

Urban driving returned an average fuel consumption of around 13.6 km per liter (not far off the official figure of 16 km per liter), while the trip up and down Genting recorded 12.3 km per liter; an ‘Eco’ sign lights up when you’re driving efficiently. Fuel economy could improve with an idle stop-start feature and hopefully we see this in the facelift.

Any Interesting Features?

Honda Malaysia has spec’d the BR-V with a host of safety features as standard for both variants i.e. Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist, Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, ISOFIX points and dual front airbags.

The more premium V variant gets the addition of smart entry, push button start, electric tailgate lock, HDMI port and reverse camera. It also gets extra chrome treatment on the exterior.

Who Is It For?

This is suitable for a family which occasionally needs to mobilize 7 people or someone who needs the extra cargo space and is concerned about keeping budget in check.
How Much?

The Honda BR-V V grade retails for RM 92,800 (on the road with insurance) and is covered by a 5-year warranty with unlimited mileage, free Labor Service applicable up to 5 times within 100,000 km or 5 years, with service interval every 10,000km.



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