Honda says the BR-V is one of its core models and finishes either first or second most months in its sales race. For 2020, the model range has been given a bit of a refresh and update. I got to spend a week with the R314 400 Elegance model.
Honda calls the BR-V a SUV, but I can’t get my head around that term as the car is rather tall and narrow and looks a whole lot like an MPV. Anyway, SUV, MPV? Who am I to argue? All I know is that it can carry five people and some luggage or seven people and not so much luggage. I carried four of us and no luggage, so we all got on just fine.
The changes are subtle and come in the form of LED daytime running lights positioned into the lower portion of the redesigned headlight clusters. You also get rear parking sensors and reverse parking camera is integrated into the new seven-inch touchscreen system. Having not driven a BR-V before, I will take their word that driving comfort has been significantly improved through the addition of extra soundproofing.
The reason I say this is that the most honest road tester I know, my 16-year-old daughter, really felt that the engine noise entering the cabin was unacceptable. It sounded like the 88kW/145Nm naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine was revving way higher than it was. For the record, 120 km/h came in at an easy 3000 rpm in sixth gear via the manual gearbox of our test car.
Obviously, this means that the BR-V is somewhat over-geared for the power it offers, especially at the Reef, where around 18% of its power is lost. Unloaded, I had to change down at least two gears to climb hills at highway speeds, but in and around the city it was a whole lot better. That said, Honda didn’t make mention of any fuel consumption figures in its press release, I returned a very average 8.6l/100km and expected better.
Where the BR-V comes into its own is in terms of versatility and space. The second-row bench features a 60:40 split with reclining backrest. The smaller seat section can be tumbled forward to provide relatively easy access to the 50:50 split third-row seats and, as alluded to earlier, the latter drop forward to increase luggage space.
Safety for a people carrier is not great. You get ABS and dual front airbags, but no traction or stability control. Convenience comes in the form of remote central locking, speed-sensitive automatic door locking, electric windows all-round, air-conditioning and four-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Luxury is in the form of leather upholstery and Honda’s Smart Entry system for convenient unlocking and starting of the car with the key still in your pocket.
All models come standard with a five-year/200 000 km warranty, and new four-year/60 000 km extended service plan as on this Elegance model. I guess if you must have a people mover and can live with the negatives of the Honda BR-V, then I would consider it, but for me personally, I would shop elsewhere.
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