Honda Motor Southern Africa has added a third, all-new model this week. Having attended the unveiling of the new BR-V, our editor Vuyi Mpofu shares a few highlights about the newest SUV which joins the long-established CR-V and the highly popular HR-V models.
Exterior Styling: At a glance, the new BR-V is instantly recognisable as a member of the Honda family, featuring the brand’s signature bold, distinctive styling and sporty, agile appearance. It has the hallmarks of an SUV, complete with raised stance and rugged appeal, front and rear bumper garnishes, roof rails and 16-inch wheels. The striking front grille, with its bold, chrome-embellished cross-bar, prominent Honda logo and streamlined headlight clusters which comprise projector halogen headlights and LED position lights. The colour-coded bumper incorporates a large lower air intake, flanked by chrome-bevelled fog lamps in the case of the Elegance flagship models.
To the rear, the boldly shaped tail light clusters are linked by a slim LED light guide. An integrated rear roof spoiler adds a sporty impression, while the generous tailgate opens all the way down to bumper level, allowing easy and convenient access to the boot. Elegance models gain a protective garnish on the front and rear bumper.
Smart Inside: The cabin features dark hues and silver accents which have been cleverly combined to create a rather smart and simple, no-fuss look. Elegant, durable fabric upholstery is standard on Trend and Comfort models, while the Elegance versions gain leather upholstery, as well as leather trim for the steering wheel and the gearshift knob.
Up front, the dashboard has a clean, ergonomic design and the instrument cluster is dominated by a large, centrally located speedometer, flanked by a rev counter on the left, and a multifunction digital display on the right.
The latter features trip computer functionality, with information on driving range, fuel consumption, fuel tank level, ambient temperature and time, as well as odometer and trip meter readings. The centre stack is dominated by the audio system, which comprises an FM Stereo/AM tuner, together with a USB socket for connecting iPods or USB flash drives. A 12V charging socket is also conveniently located in the front centre console.
The controls for the air-conditioning are located below the audio system. The BR-V Trend is fitted with manual air-conditioning, while the Comfort and Elegance versions gain fully automatic climate control air-conditioning with roof-mounted air vents for rear passengers.
Spacious Seven Seater: Unusual in the entry SUV segment, the BR-V offers seating for seven adults in three seating row configurations: two front seats, a middle row split 60:40 with seating for three, and a third row split 50:50, and offering a further two seats.
The third row offers seatback recline adjustment for occupant comfort, and is easily tumbled forward to increase the capacity of the luggage compartment. Access to the third seating row is convenient, thanks to the ease with which the 60:40 split second seating row can be tumbled forward. In the case of the Comfort and Elegance models, the second seating row can also slide forwards and backwards, which allows the ratio of legroom and luggage space to be adjusted for even greater versatility.
Ample storage is provided, including a large glove compartment, door pockets, and no less than 11 cup holders, distributed throughout the cabin. There are map pockets on the back of the front seat seatbacks in the case of Comfort and Elegance models.
Five Models, Three Grades to Choose from: The new Honda BR-V range consists of five models, all linking a contemporary exterior design and a spacious, seven-seater cabin to an extensive range of standard features.
All five derivatives also share the same 1,5-litre i-VTEC engine. The four-cylinder mill has already proven its mettle in several of Honda’s most popular models, including the Jazz, the Mobilio, the Ballade, and the HR-V.
Designed for both power and efficiency, the 1 497 cc fuel-injected unit has a rated maximum output of 88 kW at 6 600 r/min, while the 145 Nm torque peak is reached at 4 600 r/min. The engine is common to all five BR-V versions.
BR-V TREND: The exterior of the Trend model features comprehensive colour coding, blacked out B and C-pillars, contrasting wheel arch surrounds and lower protective trim panels.
The wheels are 16-inch steel designs, shod with 195/60 R16 tyres, while a 210 mm ground clearance, a wide stance, and aluminium roof rails add to the vehicle’s rugged SUV appearance. Halogen projector-style headlights are standard, as is the high-mounted LED brake light at the rear.
Inside, the black and silver colour scheme of the dashboard and trim is augmented by smart, dark-hued fabric upholstery, creating an upmarket impression. Electric windows front and rear are standard, as is remote central locking.
The comprehensive instrumentation includes a speedometer, a rev counter, and a digital multifunction information display, offering information on fuel consumption, range, fuel level, odometer, a trip meter and temperature.
The centre stack, with its silver accents and piano black surfaces, is home to a four-speaker audio system with FM Stereo/AM tuner, as well as a USB socket. The controls for the air-conditioning are located below the audio system.
The audio system also offers connectivity for Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, allowing safe, hands-free telephony. The steering wheel is tilt-adjustable, and features convenient controls for the audio system.
One of the highlights of the BR-V interior is just how spacious it is. The SUV provides seating for up to seven persons.
The second row bench seat is split 60:40, and features a reclining backrest. The smaller section tumbles forward, providing easy access to the third seating row. That third seating row is split 50:50 and also features a reclining backrest. It can be tumbled forward to increase cargo space.
Active and passive safety features include ABS anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags, and inertia reel seat belts for all seating positions, except the centre seat in the middle row (which gets a two-point lap belt).
An engine immobiliser and speed-sensitive auto door locking are also included.
BR-V COMFORT: The Comfort models have all the features of the Trend model, but add some significant extras. Externally, the most notable difference are the 16-inch alloy wheels, while the colour-coded exterior mirrors are now electrically adjustable. Front and rear mudguards are fitted as standard.
The interior retains the smart fabric upholstery. However, the equipment levels have been upgraded. Thus, the manual air-conditioning makes way for fully automatic climate control, including roof-mounted vents between the front and centre row to ensure more efficient air distribution.
Also notable is the height adjustment for the driver’s seat, while the second-row bench seat offers slide adjustment and features a centre armrest. The front seats gain seatback pockets, and sun visors with vanity mirrors.
The central locking system is fitted with a power switch to allow locking and unlocking from inside the car, while the driver’s side window features an auto up/down function. An alarm system is added to the engine immobiliser.
BR-V ELEGANCE: The Elegance flaunts its flagship status with several eye-catching exterior details. Most notable are the silver-hued front and rear bumper garnishes, which add further lustre to the BR-V’s SUV personality. The exterior mirrors are electrically adjustable and incorporate an indicator repeater.
The headlights incorporate LED position lights, while chrome-bevelled front fog lights are also standard. The door handles feature an upmarket chrome finish, and there are chrome side door protectors, too.
Also of note is Honda’s Smart Entry system, which means the key can stay in the driver’s pocket: the BR-V senses the key’s proximity, and unlocks the central locking system with the touch of a button on the driver’s door handle. Starting is via a start/stop button.
Tthe cabin’s roomy dimensions allow the introduction of a third seating row, boosting the BR-V’s occupant seating capacity to seven. Access to all seating positions is easy and convenient, thanks to split seat rows that can be tumbled forward at the pull of a lever.
The fold and tumble convenience of the middle and rear seating rows also provides exceptional versatility, allowing BR-V owners to configure the vehicle in different ways, depending on the seating capacity and luggage space required.
The interior is comprehensively equipped, and utilise premium materials and finishes for a smart, upmarket ambience. Even the entry-level Trend derivative offers air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows and remote keyless entry. A four-speaker audio system with USB connectivity is also standard, and mobile phones can be linked to the system via Bluetooth.
Active and passive safety are also addressed via ABS anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags and inertia reel seat belts for all but the second-row centre seating position (which gets a lap belt).
All derivatives of the new Honda BR-V are powered by the same, efficient 1,5-litre four-cylinder engine. The SOHC unit uses Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve technology to produce 88 kW of maximum power at 6 600 r/min, together with a torque peak of 145 Nm at 4 600 r/min.
BR-V buyers get to choose between a six-speed manual gearbox and Honda’s refined Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). In the case of the latter, paddle shifts are provided for manual shifting between the CVT’s virtual ratios.
Fuel efficiency is impressive, at a claimed 6,2 litres/100 km for the combined cycle in the case of the CVT-equipped BR-V models, while manual-gearbox versions still manage an economical 6,3 litres/100 km. CO2 exhaust gas emissions come to 148 and 151 grams for the CVT and manual gearbox derivatives respectively.
As far as safety is concerned, the BR-V features Honda’s Active Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body, which ensures even absorption and distribution of impact forces away from the vehicle occupants in the case of a collision.
Additional passive safety features include dual front airbags and inertia reel seat belts for all seating positions (except for the second row centre seat, which gets a two-point lap belt).
In active safety terms, all BR-V models are equipped with ABS anti-lock brakes. There’s also a high-mounted third brake light.
Safety and security features include an engine immobiliser, automatic door locking and reminders for seat belt, headlight and ignition key. Comfort and Elegance versions also gain an alarm system.
The new BR-V is available in four colours: White Orchid, Urban Titanium, Alabaster Silver and Carnelian Red.
The model line-up and pricing is as follows:
- Honda BR-V 1.5 Trend Manual R238 900
- Honda BR-V 1.5 Comfort Manual R252 900
- Honda BR-V 1.5 Comfort CVT R268 300
- Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance Manual R272 900
- Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance CVT R288 300
The price includes the standard Honda five-year/200 000 km warranty and three years of AA Roadside Assistance. Comfort and Elegance models benefit from a two-year/30 000 km service plan. Services are at 15 000 km intervals.