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Road test: Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance

2017-03-15 14:18

BR-V MAKES A CASE FOR ITSELF: The Honda BR-V is a seven-seater MPV that makes a strong contender for a budget-friendly MPV. Image: Quickpic

Sean Parker

Cape Town - My first experience in a Honda's seven-seat MPV wasn't in the BR-V, it was the car's pre-facelifted guise; the Mobilio. 

Good-value proposition

Then in late 2016, Honda introduced an updated version of the Mobilio, called the BR-V. It's a beefy-looking MPV with relatively good kit for R272 900. 

The first aspect of the BR-V is how easy it is to drive despite its size.

It's 1.5-litre produces 88kW/145Nm and does a fine job of hurrying the MPV along. At sea level the engine didn't lack any power but I have a feeling it might suffer at altitude. 

High specification

Our Elegance (top-spec) variant sports an engine 'start/stop' button, leathers seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and no less than 11 cup holders. A big boon was the standard fitment of a USB port and Bluetooth. 

Other niceties include; keyless entry, a four-speaker sound system and power windows all round, albeit the driver's side has one-touch operation. 

Image: Quickpic 

What's it like to drive? 

The BR-V uses a McPherson strut, anti-roll bar for its front suspension, while the rear is setup with a torsion beam axle. This results in admirable ride comfort, the wheel size is a 16" with 195 / 60R16 tyre size (front and rear). A full-size spare wheel is hidden in the boot. 

For a family car it certainly offers a comfortable ride and the suspension and damping does a good job of soaking-up irregular road surfaces. 

Alternative looks

Styling is a subjective topic though with that being said, I warmed towards the looks of the BR-V fairly quickly. It has a masculine design and puts across an urban-warrior stance rather just-another-MPV to ferry kids around. 

Things I liked? The chunky wheel design, the creases along the lower part of the door and the large front foglights round off a solid-looking package. 

The roof-rails also add a tangible sense of practicality to the MPV.

Inside, the cabin is dark and gloomy with a smattering of hard plastics. Perhaps I'm being harsh but I'm accustomed to quality interiors with better tactile feel from the Japanese brand. Admittedly for a vehicle in its price range the interior isn't that bad, it just could be better.

Practicality

When six of my mates and I stood outside Mobilio, I piped up and said there is no way we'd all fit in. But I was proved wrong and it's because the Mobilio, and subsequently the BR-V, features a third row of seating that increases the maximum passenger capacity to seven.

Access is made easy with split seats that can be tumbled forward/back at the pull of a lever. I can attest to driving and being a passenger in a BR-V and I find either position equally satisfying. 

Image: Quickpic 


Team opinion

Janine Van der Post: Honda’s seven-seater BR-V is much roomier than what it looks like at first glance inside the cabin. Having never experienced the Mobilio,  the vehicle the BR-V replaces,  I can’t compare apples with apples here. The new model looks a lot more assertive with solid, flowing lines and a somewhat bulky, premium-looking front end. 

The leather seats are super comfy all round, and the facia is neat and simple. At under R300 000, the BR-V makes a great alternative for those families who need the space, at a more affordable price without having to skimp on necessities.

The 1.5-litre petrol unit makes the MPV move around adequately and gets the job done. It has just enough grunt to overtake when needed, but only when there’s more than enough room to do so.
 
Gear changes are smooth, steering is responsive and the BR-V offers a pleasant drive. The fact that its good-looking too is an added bonus. 

There’s enough boot space for the toddler’s little toy car, a big cooler box and a couple of bags even when the third row of seats is up. However, I would much rather prefer if the third row of seats could fold flat into the floor as this compromises on space when you do need more room. 

Since rugby is a way of life in our household, car boots are often my saving grace on the field. It becomes a little play area for my little one, especially when the sun is too harsh or she needs a spacious ‘bed’ with a comfy blanky. It’s a good thing the seat materials are soft so even with the third seat row folded down, but raised because it doesn’t fold down, it made for a good bunk with an extra pillow and blanket to do the trick.    

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