The compact SUV space is no more the exclusive playground of Mahindra & Mahindra. Ever since Renault brought in the Duster at an affordable price, several car manufacturers have introduced compact SUVs into the Indian market. The latest to join this growing tribe is the Honda BR-V.
The first word that comes to one's mind after seeing the BR-V is "deja vu". Since it's built on the Honda Brio platform, it feels as though one has seen the BR-V earlier. It reminds one of the Brio, the Mobilio and even the CR-V. The only difference seems to lie in its sporty looks.
The BR-V is not a very large vehicle. Rather, it's a bit narrow in its overall structure. But when I step inside, I am amazed by the space the Honda engineers have carved out for its passengers and their luggage.
HONDA BR-V Engine: 1,498cc iDTEC (diesel) /1,497cc i-VTEC (petrol)
Transmission: 6-speed manual / 6-speed manual or CVT
Power: 98.6bhp@3,600 (diesel) / 117.4bhp@6,600rpm (petrol)
Torque: 200Nm@1,750rpm (diesel) / 145Nm@4,600rpm (petrol)
Expected Price: Rs 8.75 lakh onwards (Ex-showroom Delhi)
The BR-V is powered by Honda's proven i-VTEC and i-DTEC technology. Both petrol and diesel engines have a cubic capacity of 1.5 litres. The petrol motor is fast and the power delivery is quite linear. The diesel, however, takes a bit of time to get going but, once it does, the surge of power is more than adequate. The turbo on the i-DTEC diesel kicks in anywhere north of 1800rpm and has been tuned with precision. The punch provided by the turbo is quite subtle and not as hard-hitting as other diesel mills.
The BR-V is a car for those yearning for subtlety. It's got the right mix of smart and sporty designs, macho front looks and a spacious cabin making it a very practical SUV for seven adults to be seated comfortably.
The diesel i-DTEC engine generates more torque at a lower rpm and can speed up to 150km with considerable ease. The BR-V also comes with a ground clearance of 210mm, which is quite good compared to industry standards. The ground clearance on the BR-V rivals that of the Duster and is second to none in the segment. I took the BR-V off-road as well to test out its capability and was quite amazed at its versatility. It is not an extreme off-roader but definitely has the power and punch to take on some rough terrain.
I put the vehicle through some steep inclines, angle tests and took it through loose gravel. All the way through, the BR-V behaved confidently. The option of six gears with short throws gave me a fair share of fun. My personal favourite was the CVT, which comes with paddle shifts.
The power delivery is progressive and if one throws the lever into sports mode, the 1.5L petrol motor comes to life with all the flair it can muster. The paddle shifts make it easier to shift gears instantly and the racer inside you begins to emerge.
The suspension on the BR-V is facilitated by a McPherson Strut with coil spring in the front and a Torsion Beam with coil spring in the rear. The suspension has been tuned to be stiffer than what one sees on traditional Honda vehicles. Even while off-roading, one does not get tossed about too much in this vehicle and can sit comfortably in the cabin. The steering on the BR-V is well weighted and it doesn't require too much effort. The petrol version of the BR-V has a shorter turning radius at 5.3m and is more maneuverable than the diesel version, which has a turning radius of 5.5m.
The brakes on this compact SUV are facilitated by discs in the front and drums in the rear. The braking is progressive and quite efficient. I tested the BR-V on various terrains and performed a few panic braking tests as well. In the end, I was quite satisfied by the vehicle's performance on dirt, gravel and tarmac. The fuel efficiency mark on the diesel stands at 21.9kmpl, while the petrol manual version delivers 15.4kmpl and the CVT automatic returns 16kms to the litre.
The rear has a trunk volume of 223 litres with a 50:50 split for the third row and a 60:40 split for the second row. The second row also comes with a sliding and folding option, making the BR-V one of the most practical and well thought out compact SUVs. The BR-V features interiors that are quite contemporary and resemble the Honda Jazz. However, the quality of plastic used on the dash does leave a lot to be desired. The piano black finish that has been used around the audio unit looks good, but is prone to dust and fingerprints. The BR-V features an infotainment system that is USB, Bluetooth and AUX enabled with steering mounted controls, push button start/ stop, keyless entry and automatic air-conditioning. The BR-V has a multi-info display to show average and instant fuel economy, trip meter, ambient temperature, time and fuel level. The BR-V appears to be perfect for those who want a dash of thrill in their life, but with just the right kind of safety features.
P Tharyan is editor, Motown India; www.motownindia.com