Honda came to India in 1998 and became an instant hit with the upper crust of the Indian middle class with the Honda City. When everyone else was driving around in carbureted Maruti Esteems with negligible features, Honda offered the likes of the electronic rear view mirror adjustment. And in the last 18 years of existence, the Honda City has been at the top of its game as one of the most favored cars in India (I should know… I have owned several). Sadly, Honda’s other cars have never enjoyed sales or ‘love’ like the City has. Fast forward to now – 2016. The SUV is clearly king of the Indian automotive segment. And until very recently, Honda did not have an affordable SUV which came with a ‘must-have’ diesel engine. Now they do. After years of dilly-dallying around with prospective products, Honda India finally has a compact SUV to offer in India. And it is the brand new Honda BR-V. Check for review & price of Honda cars
EXTERIORS AND STYLE ;
Based on the Brio platform, the SUV looks quite similar to Mobilio MPV, although the front end and rear profile bear no resemblance to the MPV. The SUV is low and has a van like stance which takes away the SUVish appeal from it. Front gets bold dual chrome slats set on the backdrop of honeycomb grille. The headlamps long and swept back head lamps go well with the two-part chrome grille, giving edge to the square-like bonnet. Lower side of the bumper features rounded fog lamps accentuated by chrome surrounds and there is a silver skid plate placed under the bumper. When you view the SUV from side, it is then that you realise how strongly it resembles with the Mobilio. The sharp character lines on the flanks and similar looking window glass reminds of the MPV. Atop BR-V gets roof rails which lend it height, else the SUV appears a tad short amid rivals. To give it a SUV like flair, black plastic cladding is seen all around the body. As you get to the back, you cannot help noticing the single unit wrap-around tail lamps running across the boot lid. Besides, the rear gets an integrated spoiler, chrome garnish above the license plate and a skid plate under the bumper. Check for BRV price in Bangalore
SPACE AND CABIN
When we first saw the Honda BR-V in Japan, we were relieved that Honda was dumping the low rent interior from the Brio family for a more premium design. Since then, Honda has upgraded the Amaze in India offering the very same new dashboard and it is only a a matter of time before both the Mobilio and Brio get a similar update.
The layout follows a similar design to the Honda City and Jazz but unlike their touch controls for the sensitive automatic aircon, the Honda BR-V uses conventional buttons. Quality is good and the plastics feel durable. More importantly, the dash is no longer a deal breaker. The Honda BR-V also gets a new instrument cluster that uses white ringed dials with a separate multi-information display that has dual trips, average and instant efficiency, driving range and ambient temperature.
The audio system is a simple unit with a small black and white screen. It has USB, AUX and Bluetooth playback but sound quality is only average.
Where the Honda Amaze offers a standard key, the BR-V has a push button start system. The cabin is thoughtfully laid out, there are enough storage spaces, large bottle holders in the door pockets and an Innova-like roof mounted second AC for the rear passengers. Having roof mounted vents is logical as it sends some of the cool air to the third row. Low mounted ac vents like the ones in the Duster and Creta won’t send air so far back. That having been said, the rear aircon, while effective, is quit
The seats on the top spec model are leather wrapped and supportive. Being the longest car in its segment has its advantages and space is generous, even the third row is quite usable. Middle row knee room isn’t on the same level as a Honda City and you can tell Honda has sacrificed a little here to make the third row more practical. I’m 6″1 and I could fit in there with reasonable comfort. Being a conventional third row, passengers also get seatbelts unlike those silly jump seats in the sub-4m 7-seaters from Mahindra.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Honda will offer the BR-V in two engine trims of petrol and diesel. The diesel will be the 1.5-litre motor that is also seen in the Honda Jazz and the Honda City. Similarly, it will produce 98 bhp of power and 200 Nm of torque. It will come with a six-speed manual transmission. The diesel typically will serve well for the highway mongers but then for the city commuters, it will be the petrol doing rounds.
We got a chance to test drive the Honda BR-V under a controlled environment at a specified speed on a special track. The duration was too less for us to form definite judgements about the riding dynamics and the overall performance but based on our brief experience with the car, we concluded the following.
Firstly, the 1.5-litre iVTEC engine will power the petrol variants and will come with a six-speed manual transmission. In addition, Honda will also offer the same engine with a seven-speed CVT transmission. This 1497cc motor makes 118 bhp of power at 6000 rpm and generates an impressive 145Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. The power delivery has been deliberately tuned in such a way to order more push in the lower range.
Honda also claims to have made the engine smoother than before and has been tweaked according to the body type. Even the efficiency has been increased by usage of low friction rings along with piston stroke noise reduction. Also, tackling criticism against this transmission, Honda has developed a new CVT unit for small sized engines. This has helped in reducing the lag by quicker acceleration from standstill as well as reduced overall weight of the unit increasing the mileage.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The Honda BR-V will mainly be used as a family runabout and it is imperative that the crossover SUV have a good level of ride comfort. And it does for most parts. Slow speed ride quality is great and we were genuinely impressed by how the BR-V does not let in thuds and thumps from bumps at such speeds. Speed up a bit and the first row passengers will be taken care of as well but the second and third row occupants do get thrown around a little bit. This is even more accentuated when you encounter a set of continuous bumps. Although the BR-V will not make you feel uncomfortable and will prove to be a great grand tourer especially when weighed down with a bunch of passengers and their luggage.
When it comes to handling, the BR-V is like any other Honda – just enough neutrality to be ballistic levels of fun in the right hands. Steering feel is great and the steering feedback is good enough to make the driver know exactly what both front tyres are up to at any given time. The 195/60 R16 Michelin tyres that our test car came with did have an average level of grip, but we think that a better set of tyres would really improve the way the BR-V would handle and stop even more. And talking about stopping, the BR-V comes with disc brakes up front and drum brakes at the rear with ABS as a standard feature on all models. And unlike some of the other Honda cars in the past which were a little under-whelming in the braking section, the BR-V’s brakes have good bite and feel under normal and heavy braking. Talking a bit more about safety features, the BR-V does come standard with airbags across all variants.
SAFETY FEATURES ;
Honda is offering dual front airbags and ABS as standard across all the variants except the base E petrol version of the BR-V. It is a good move but considering the marginal price increase with ABS, they should have offered it on the base petrol trim. None of the cars from the Brio family have been crash tested by Global NCAP so we can’t judge the structural strength of the BR-V yet. However, the after sales of Honda is quite trustworthy and low on maintenance, which is a boon for Indian buyers. The Japanese automaker currently has 298 outlets across 190 cities in India and they plan to ramp it up to 340 outlets by March 2017.
The first comment that would come in your mind is about the pricing of the Honda BR-V and rightly that shall be a crucial decision making point for Indian audiences. From our first impression, we are sure that Honda looks all geared up to enter the segment with a great bang and will make other crossovers worry of their existence. The exterior design will find many takers as it has an enthusiastic yet premium approach. Inside, the interiors will be even more premium and Honda will fill the cabin with multiple and highly relevant features.
Since this one is a prototype, the final production variant will feature higher levels of finishing. Till then, we need to be patient and keep an eye on this new breed of crossover. Yes, that also means you should hold on to your buying decisions for the next few months