Honda BR-V Expert Review

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Introduction

The compact SUV segment has been buzzing of late, with a plethora of launches and updates flooding the market. The segment that was kickstarted by the Renault Duster now has an entrant from the Land of the Rising Sun. Honda has jumped into the fray with the BR-V, a seven-seater crossover SUV. The Hyundai Creta and the Renault Duster lie squarely in its crosshairs. 

What does it offer? Let's take a look! 

Pros
  • Leather upholstery on the top-spec variant adds a premium touch to the cabin.
  • An extra row of seats. Can accommodate the in-laws for the occasional weekend trip.
  • Petrol motor is very refined. Optional CVT automatic available as well.
  • The diesel engine is amongst the most fuel-efficient engines of the lot. The ARAI-rated mileage stands at 21.9km/l.
Cons
  • No diesel automatic variant on offer. The Creta and the Duster offer the same.
  • Build quality isn't the best. Sheet metal seems thin and the quality of interior plastics is a let-down as well.
  • Woefully under-equipped vis-a-vis rivals such as the Creta and the Duster. No touchscreen audio system, reverse camera or parking sensors.

Stand Out Features

  • 210mm of ground clearance is on par with segment best Renault Duster AWD.

    210mm of ground clearance is on par with segment best Renault Duster AWD.

  • Paddle shifters on the petrol automatic are exclusive to the BR-V.

    Paddle shifters on the petrol automatic are exclusive to the BR-V.

  • Roof mounted AC vents for the 2nd row ensure good flow to the 3rd row as well.

    Roof mounted AC vents for the 2nd row ensure good flow to the 3rd row as well.

CarDekho Verdict

With the BR-V, Honda has done just about enough to keep up with the competition, but little to beat it. It has seven seats, offers a compliant ride, and has engines that have proven themselves in other cars from the Japanese automaker’s stable. However, everything else is lukewarm at best, with nothing to make you exclaim in appreciation. In a market that has buyers who are hungry for features, loading the BR-V to the gills should have been a no-brainer. Hyundai did it with the Creta and the results are here for us to see.

"The only advantage the BR-V offers over its rivals is the 7 seats."

The two deal makers for the BR-V will be the fact that it has seven seats and Honda’s hassle-free ownership experience. Honda had an opportunity to more than one up the slow-selling Mobilio, but may have played it too safe in a highly-competitive market. Honda has priced the BR-V petrol between Rs. 8.75 – 11.99 lakh and the diesel between Rs. 9.90 – 12.90 lakh. This puts it around the same range as the Duster and Creta and will make it tempting for buyers with large families. We just wish it came with more kit to drive the deal home.

Exterior

Honda insists on calling the BR-V an SUV. However, it is hard to overlook the MPV overtones that the design carries. We have to add that the Honda looks significantly smaller in the flesh. Prepare to be slightly surprised when you first lay eyes on one. 

While the car is amongst the longest in its segment, it isn't very wide. For instance, the Duster is a full 87mm wider. The narrow dimensions are evident easily, as the BR-V does not have the mandatory butch stance most compact SUVs have. Honda has added SUV-inspired elements such as matte-black cladding and roof-rails, which gel well with the overall theme.

SUV? Only from certain angles. Certainly MPV-like from the side.

The sixteen-inch alloy wheels get a finish we have seen on the Mobilio RS. While they look cool in isolation, they seem tiny and lost in the busy side profile. 

Our favourite angle to view the BR-V has to be the front three-quarters. The Accord-inspired face, with large projector headlamps, LED light guides and the matte-silver skid gives the compact SUV a likeable face. We like the creases on the bonnet and around the foglamp housing on the bumper that go the extra mile in adding some aggression to the face. 

The rear looks quite drab and mini-van like. The wrap-around tail lights are connected by a huge reflector strip that runs across the length of the boot. Barring the small strip of chrome above the number plate area and the skid plate, there's nothing to write home about the rear section. 

Exterior Comparison

Honda BRV Hyundai Creta Mahindra Scorpio Renault Duster
Length (mm) 4456 4270 4456 4315
Width (mm) 1735 1780 1820 1822
Height (mm) 1666 1630 1995 1695
Ground Clearance (mm) 210 190 180 205
Wheel Base (mm) 2662 2590 2680 2673
Kerb Weight (kg) 1306 - - -

Boot space with all the seats up is 223 litres, expandable to 691 litres with the third row tucked away.

Boot Space Comparison

Honda BRV Renault Duster Hyundai Creta Mahindra Scorpio
Volume 223-litres 475-litres 400-litres 460-litres

Summing up, the styling isn't as muscular and butch as a Renault Duster, nor as clean as a Hyundai Creta. It is somewhere in the middle. While it does look nice from certain angles, we wish it did not resemble the Mobilio as much, especially from the side. 

Interior

The Honda’s City’s interiors are one of the sedan’s USPs, and Honda has decided to continue with the trend, offering a familiar layout in the cabin. The all-black layout offers a sporty and classy touch, though some buyers may prefer a beige palette. The piano-black centre console and dull silver accents across the cabin add a premium touch, with subtlety.

While the exterior of the BR-V does emit a Mobilio-esque vibe, the interiors don’t share the MPV’s relatively cheap look and finish, though there is room for improvement, especially considering the competition it faces. The top-spec version gets good-quality leather upholstery with leather around the steering wheel, gear knob and door armrest as well. You also get adjustable headrests for all seven seats.

Honda’s “man maximum machine minimum” philosophy has given its cars a good reputation when it comes to space, to the extent that hatchbacks like the Jazz offer space that can put sedans in segments above it to shame. All three rows of the BR-V are very accommodating and can hold the average Indian frame in reasonable comfort, even if the person is on the bulkier side. Space in the second row is generous enough to accommodate one six-footer behind another. The seat compound isn’t very soft and, while it will help on long-distance highway trips, short in-city journeys could prove to be a little irritating.

Legroom and headroom get a thumbs up from us, but under-thigh support is inadequate because of the small seat base. Another problem in the second row is the fact that it can’t support three passengers together, and the S-Cross does a better job of this. In the third row, headroom is surprisingly good, but this still isn’t a seat of choice to begin with. Passengers here will tend to sit with their knees pointing upwards and under-thigh support is not commendable by any means. It’s best suited for kids, or perhaps adults on short journeys.

The BR-V is woefully under equipped for a car launched in 2016.

The BR-V does make a good proposition for a large family and will satiate most needs, but ignores many of the buyer’s greeds. The feature is far too spartan and, while you do get keyless entry and go, and automatic climate control with roof-mounted rear AC vents, these features aren’t differentiators. The music system would barely be acceptable in a Brio, let alone the BR-V. Additionally, the 4.4-metre length should immediately warrant the inclusion of parking sensors at least, if not a rear-view camera; not to mention, you get just one 12V charging socket (for the front passengers) in a car that has three seat rows.

Performance

The Honda BR-V is available with two engine options, both of which have been tried and tested under the City's bonnet. 

1.5-litre i-VTEC (Petrol) 

The petrol BR-V is amongst the most refined cars in its class. The engine loves to be taken to the redline and doesn't mind staying there either. With the short throws, the new six-speed gearbox is an absolute delight to use,. As is the case with most petrol Hondas, the clutch is light and the travel is just right. Power delivery is linear and the motor picks up pace cleanly. We like how well Honda has tuned the engine and gearbox combo to make up for the weight of the BR-V. 

The engine gets an optional CVT automatic as well. Keep a steady and light right foot, and the auto box does not disappoint one bit. Under hard acceleration, the gearbox gets whiny and revs the socks off the engine. It isn't a pleasant noise either; so we'd recommend you keep the weight on the accelerator pedal in check. Of course, you can take charge of the gears yourself by using the paddle shifters. Response is acceptable — no reason to complain there. 

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Hyundai Creta Renault Duster Honda BRV Honda BRV
Power 121.3bhp@6400rpm 102.53bhp@5750rpm 117.3bhp@6600rpm 117.3bhp@6600rpm
Torque (Nm) 151Nm@4850rpm 148Nm@3750rpm 145Nm@4600rpm 145Nm@4600rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1591 1598 1497 1497
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Automatic
Top Speed (kmph) 185 Kmph 160 Kmph - -
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 11.2 Seconds 11.5 Seconds - -
Kerb Weight (kg) - - 1235kg 1238kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 15.29kmpl 13.06kmpl 15.4kmpl 16.0kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 1238kg - 94.97975708502024 bhp/ton 94.74959612277867 bhp/ton

1.5-litre i-DTEC (Diesel)

The diesel motor fits well into the overall package of the BR-V. NVH levels are well controlled compared to the Amaze, but there's still a fair bit of noise that filters inside the cabin, especially over 3000rpm. There is a noticeable turbo-lag that will bog you down if you let the engine fall below 1500rpm. Like the petrol, the clutch on the diesel is light as well. In case you are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with this one, you shouldn't have an issue. 

The BR-V makes up for an underpowered diesel engine by delivering good fuel economy.

The best part is the fuel efficiency which Honda claims is a respectable 21.9km/l. While it didn't achieve that figure while on test, it never dipped below the 15km/l mark. We think that is phenomenal for a car its size. 

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Honda BRV Mahindra Scorpio Renault Duster Hyundai Creta
Power 98.6bhp@3600rpm 120bhp@4000rpm 108.45bhp@4000rpm 126.2bhp@4000rpm
Torque (Nm) 200Nm@1750rpm 280Nm@1800-2800rpm 245Nm@1750rpm 259.9Nm@1900-2750rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1498 2179 1461 1582
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) - 150 Kmph 168 Kmph 190 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) - 19 Seconds 12.5 Seconds 10.5 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1306kg - - -
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 21.9kmpl 15.4kmpl 19.6kmpl 19.67kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 75.49770290964777 bhp/ton - - -

Ride and Handling

The BR-V is a car-like SUV and, while it won’t pummel through rough patches and bad roads as well as the Duster will, it will absorb most of the undulations you expect on Indian roads. Like most Hondas, it is a little stiffly sprung and, while that aids dynamics, it won’t make the ride jarring. The 210mm ground clearance is adequate, provided you understand that this is a soft-roader and not an off-roader.

Handling mannerisms are good, if not the most engaging. This is a monocoque and not a ladder-frame, making it a little more predictable to drive when the driving gets a little spirited. The steering weight and feel are just about right. Since this is an urban SUV, the steering is light at low speeds, letting you chuck the thing around with one finger. This is no compact SUV and the length makes the turning radius rather large. Taking a U-turn is a task in itself. There's enough feedback that gives you the confidence to push it through the corners as well. The ride is slightly bouncy in the second and third rows, but is tolerable for shorter journeys.

Safety

The BRV is at par with the competition in terms of safety. The BRV scored 5 stars in the Adult Occupant Protection (AOP) and 4 stars in the Child Occupant Protection (COP) tests conducted by the New Car Assessment Programme for Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN NCAP). 

We love that dual front airbags are offered as standard across variants.

In terms of safety features, the car gets dual front airbags as standard while ABS is available in all the variants except the base trim.Other safety features that are spread across the variants include a driver seatbelt reminder, security alarm and impact sensing door unlock. 

Variants

  • Diesel
  • Petrol
Variants Features Price
BRV i-DTEC E MT ABS with EBD, Front dual SRS airbags, Digital AC controls, 10.16 Lakh*
BRV i-DTEC S MT [ In adition to i-DTEC E MT ] ABS with EBD, Auto AC , Electrically adjustable ORVM, [ Variant i-DTEC E MT price ] + 1,62,862 =  11.79 Lakh*
BRV i-DTEC V MT [ In adition to i-DTEC S MT ] 3D Speedometer , Push start , Electrically foldable ORVM, [ Variant i-DTEC S MT price ] + 86,500 =  12.65 Lakh*
BRV i-DTEC VX MT [ In adition to i-DTEC V MT ] Front power window auto up, Heat absorbing windsheild, Leather seats, [ Variant i-DTEC V MT price ] + 1,08,500 =  13.74 Lakh*
Variants Features Price
BRV i-VTEC E MT Front Dual SRS Airbags, Projector Headlamps, Digital AC Controls, 9.45 Lakh*
BRV i-VTEC S MT [ In adition to i-VTEC E MT ] Auto AC , ABS with EBD, Electrically Adjustable ORVM, [ Variant i-VTEC E MT price ] + 99,500 =  10.45 Lakh*
BRV i-VTEC V MT [ In adition to i-VTEC S MT ] 3D Speedometer , Push start , Electrically foldable ORVM, [ Variant i-VTEC S MT price ] + 1,14,500 =  11.59 Lakh*
BRV i-VTEC VX MT [ In adition to i-VTEC V MT ] Leather seats, Heat absorbing windsheild, Front power window auto up, [ Variant i-VTEC V MT price ] + 1,04,000 =  12.63 Lakh*
BRV i-VTEC V CVT [ In adition to i-VTEC VX MT ] Automatic Transmission, All features of i-VTEC V MT, [ Variant i-VTEC VX MT price ] + 14,500 =  12.78 Lakh*

Dual front airbags come as standard across the range which is a welcome addition and while ABS with EBD is offered as standard with the base diesel, the petrol only gets it in the S-variant. The base (E) variant does get the bare essentials and adding an after-market entertainment system will make this a decent package for the price-sensitive buyer. However, you will have to upgrade to the S-grade to get a little more novelty.

The S variant offers the best bang for your buck.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go up to the top-end variant to get a good share of what the BR-V has to offer. The S-variant gets the 2DIN entertainment system with multi-media support and steering mounted audio controls. You also get automatic climate control and chauffeur driven owners get a sliding 2nd row seat and rear AC vents. A height-adjustable seat for the driver, along with the rear defogger, wiper and washer are also offered, making this the most value for money variant in the range. 

The V-grade adds niceties such as push button start, alloy wheels, and an MID, but this variant is mainly for those opting for the CVT automatic gearbox, as the additional features do come at a steep premium. 

The range-topping (VX) model primarily adds premium leather to the interior and a few additional features to bump-up the BR-V’s premium factor.

Honda BRV similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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