Honda BR-V Diesel Road Test Review

Honda cars in India have regained their vigor since they got diesel engines on their cars, the Amaze and the City, which have been selling very well in their respective segments with the oil burner hearts. Now Honda has car models in almost every segment. The only segment and an important one currently is the Mini SUV segment, where they were missing. With the BR-V launched recently, Honda now enters the much competitive and fast growing Mini SUV segment. We drive Honda’s first Mini SUV for India to get you this detailed road test review, read on.

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Food For Thought:

BR-V stands for Bold Runabout Vehicle as per Honda. We had driven the BR-V first in Japan last year; with the car being in the final pre-production stage then. The BR-V is based on the Brio platform. Apart from the Brio, this platform is shared by the Amaze compact sedan, the Mobilio MPV and now the BR-V Mini SUV. India first saw the BR-V at the 2016 Auto Expo at Delhi where it was ceremoniously unveiled. The BR-V was jointly developed by Honda Research and Development (R&D) Asia Pacific Co. Ltd. (HRAP), Thailand and P.T. Honda R&D Indonesia.

Exteriors:

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Head on the BR-V has a lot of styling clues from the latest generation CR-V. The front end comes with a two level chrome strips that run horizontally defining the face of the car. The top thicker strip gets a large Honda `H’ logo in the middle, while the lower strip mates with the headlamps end lines. Below these strips you get a black colored honeycomb mesh grill that extends itself lower.

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The headlamps get a wraparound designing and come with projector type glow in them. Day time running LED lights come enclosed in these headlights along with a nice looking `C` shaped reflector design. The bonnet gets two soft flowing character lines. The front bumper gets neat angular and sharp character lines on both the corners; these lines make the front end look a lot more muscular. Round fog lamps get chrome garnish around them and are placed in black honey comb mesh surrounds. It also gets a faux silver-colored skid-plate in the middle of the bumper that completes the SUV look on the face of the BR-V.

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The sides of the BR-V remind a lot of the Mobilio. The sides come with a sharp body line that runs across upwards starting from the fender and ending just where the rear door starts. The wheel arches come with unpainted matt black colored body cladding that starts on the front fender, runs over the running board and meets on the rear bumpers. There is a thick chrome band that runs across the doors placed just above the running board. This gives a rugged off road look and feel to the vehicle. Like the Mobilio, the BR-V too gets XXL sized side windows, the largest in the segment. Large windows on a vehicle always helps in making the vehicle look airy and also helps the passengers feel a lot less claustrophobic.

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The roof get silver-colored roof rails that help in making the BR-V look a lot taller too. The Honda BR-V has a overall ground clearance of 210mm (Mobilio has 189mm). The wing mirrors come with body colored housing and are fully electrically adjustable with fold feature too. Door handles come with chrome on them, driver’s side door handle gets keyless entry exit feature on it. The BR-V comes with 195/60 R16 Michelin Primacy 3ST tubeless tyres mounted on 5-spoke sporty looking alloys in black and chrome combination.

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Like the front, the rear profile looks very different to that of the Mobilio. Neatly designed `C` shaped tail lights mate each other via the reflector strip that runs across the boot lid. This makes the rear look extremely sporty and different. The boot lid extends itself nice and low that helps loading and unloading in the boot area extremely easy. The boot lid gets an integrated spoiler with brake lamp, rear wash wipe and defogger on the rear windshield and a thick chrome strip just above the license plate.

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The rear too gets a faux skid plate in silver and also angular character lines on the corners of the bumper, making the BR-V look wider than it actually is. Build quality is typical Honda level. The BR-V looks neatly done, the front and the rear end are its best profiles, while the side remind us a lot of the Mobilio.

Interiors:

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Get inside the BR-V and you instantly notice the strong resemblance to that of the 2016 Amaze’s cabin. You get an all black cabin. The dashboard comes in an all black color theme with metal inserts and a faux carbon fiber patch on the passenger’s side. The AC vents too get the metal surrounds. The steering has a 3 spoke design, also seen on the Honda City. Multifunction buttons come mounted on the steering which also gets a silver colored insert on its spokes. This steering can be adjusted manually for height.

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Instrumentation is again same as that on the City and the 2016 Amaze. Three round dials with RPM on the left, speedo in the middle and a MFD display on the right do the honors. Instrumentation is clearly laid out and easy to read. The MFD display reads out the overall mileage, instant mileage, distance to empty and trip meters, clock, ambient temperature along with the odometer reading. You also have the Eco light that glows if you are driving the vehicle and shifting gears on the easier side.

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The center console gets a manual audio system with Bluetooth phone connectivity, AUX and USB along with FM radio. The climate control is a single zone unit with blowers also in the middle row mounted on the roof. Just behind the front seats. What’s missing is a touch screen infotainment system, rear camera and parktronics and navigation system for a car of this segment. Honda must have taken note of this for sure.

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The seats get all black leather upholstery on the top end VX trim level that we drove. Driver’s seat gets manual height adjusts. Seats get white hand-stitching pattern on them to make them look sportier. The gear shifter is same as that on the City, the Mobilio and the Amaze. We also missed the center armrest which is now so popular on the cars in this segment. Lot of cubby holes and storage space is available all around the cabin area.

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Seats are very comfortable in the front, while the middle row seats come with a lot of leg room. The middle row seats can be slided ahead or back when needed and also the back rest angle can be adjusted as per comfort. Loads of space for the middle row passengers, being a slightly narrow car two passengers can fit in the middle row while a third one can squeeze in too.

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Getting into the third row is not difficult, you just need to tumble down the middle row and you have the entry way. Third row seating comes with a decent amount of leg and head room, where our man Sujit, who is a 6-footer, could sit comfortably. The Aircon worked very well, with the middle row blower coming with its independent blower speed setting knob placed on the roof. Using the 40-60 split seats in the middle row, you can increase the boot space if and when needed flexibly.

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The boot capacity for the BR-V is 223 liters with the 3rd row seats in use, can be further extended to 691 liters with the 3rd row seats tumbled down. The cabin area on the BR-V is neatly done and practical too. Though some features are missing, the BR-V wins over some of the rivals as it can seat 7 passengers while others are mostly 5 seater Mini SUVs.

Engine – Performance – Drive:

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The Honda BR-V comes powered by the 1.5-litre Petrol and Diesel engines that also power all other cars from the brand in India. We reviewed the Diesel BR-V, so lets speak about that in detail.

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Powering the BR-V is the 4-cylinder 1.5-litre i-DTEC oil burner that makes 100 BHP at 3,600 RPM and hitting out 200 Nm of torque at 1,750 RPM. This engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The BR-V shares the transmission with the City with altered gear ratios to suit it. Start the engine using the push button start and the diesel motor comes to life. The engine noise is very low as the cabin is nicely insulated. Gear shifting is sharp and precise. Power delivery is good and the vehicle never feels under-powered. The steering feedback if nice and positive.

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The suspension though similar to the Mobilio, feels different mostly due to the higher ground clearance. This is a well-sorted suspension system that’s tuned for Indian driving conditions. The ride quality is pretty nice with the BR-V soaking out mostly all the bad roads and bumps. Honda claims a ARAI fuel efficiency of best in class 21.9 kmpl while you can expect an overall real world fuel economy of 15-16 kmpl depending on the drive conditions.

Safety:

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Honda is offering dual front airbags along with ABS as standard right from the base trim level, except the base E petrol trim which is a very positive safety feature to be included. As mentioned earlier we sorely missed the reverse parktronics and camera on the BR-V.

Competition Check:

The Honda BR-V rivals mainly the Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano, Maruti Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport, Mahindra TUV3OO.

Verdict:

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The Honda BR-V is a stylish-looking Mini SUV. It has all the family trademark features that a Honda product comes loaded with. The looks are catchy, especially the front and the rear. Feature wise though some are missing, the BR-V still has lots of other features and no compromise on the safety ones. The diesel motor is the tried and tested unit that also does duty on other Honda models. Fuel efficiency is best in class too. The biggest USP for the BR-V is that it’s a 7-seater Mini SUV, making it a very good option if you are looking for a 7-seater in this segment.

Honda BRV Specs Chart

Honda BR-V Photo Gallery:

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Pic Credits: Ritesh Madhok

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