Honda’s new mid-size SUV has the potential to be a game changer for its India market. We went for a short spin in a prototype BR-V to get a taste of what’s coming
To say the crossover or soft SUV segment is getting crowded would certainly be the understatement of the year. From a buyer’s perceptive, things couldn't have been better as the choices have never been so good. With Hyundai Creta taking the baton from Renault Duster and Maruti Suzuki S-Cross lurking in the shadow, Honda has decided to join the party and make the competition intense. Good news for Hyundai, Renault and Maruti Suzuki is that the BR-V will only be launched after being showcased in Delhi Auto Expo in February 2016.
We got to drive the BR-V in Honda's plant in Japan and it left us wanting for more. The reason for that is we could only do two laps on their testing track and couldn't accelerate more than 60-70 km/h, which was slightly disappointing.
The BR-V is based on the platform of Brio, Amaze and Mobilio. The front nose looks all too familiar with a chunky chrome band running across the grille and a buffed up bumper, which adds some serious muscle to the BR-V. The Katana blade like headlamps look very smart, but it's the visible underbody skip, which gives it a macho look. To make sure that the BR-V has an imposing stance, Honda have buffed up the wheel arches. Coming to the rear, the beautiful design of the lamps that run across the boot give the SUV a very contemporary flavour.
Step inside and you're welcomed to an all black interiors. As we were getting all ready to drive the BR-V, we were told this is a prototype based on Indonesia specifications. This means whatever you see in the cabin, it will be further spruced up for India. Even though there was a plastic plank cover on the dashboard, for India expect a big touchscreen infotainment system here, maybe something in the lines of the City or Mobilo. It comes with climate control and the plastic certainly feels a notch better than the City. But the quality is still not quite at par with Creta, S-Cross and Duster.
Honda have given a lot of importance to practicality and therefore, there is a plenty of cabin space. Being 4.4 metre vehicle, Honda have smartly added a third row in the BR-V, which all three of its rivals - Creta, Duster and S-Cross lack. The second row provides decent legroom and it further increases as you can slide the seats back. The seats in general are comfortable and provide able back support.
We drove the 1.5-litre petrol engine mated with CVT, a first in its segment. We have to say this, it's high time Honda moved on from CVTs as they restrain and paralyse their engines. Step on the gas and the CVT's quick response surprised us, but before we could sing praises it did what is in its nature, to put a cap on the engine. Pass the 2,500rpm mark and you feel there is tussle between the engine and the gearbox. The 118 ponies want to run free, but the CVT puts a child lock on it and ultimately the BR-V is left high and dry. There is no doubt with the sort of power available and refinement, this 1.5 iVTEC would be great to drive with a manual transmission. As for diesel option, the tried and tested 1.5-litre iDTEC will be plonked underneath the bonnet.
In terms of handing and ride quality, our impression was quite positive but then keeping in mind we barely drove it for only two laps on flat levelled surface, it wasn't much of a challenge for BR-V. We'll have to wait and put it in real world driving conditions to actually know how the SUV actually fares.
Honda has and is still considered as an aspirational brand for the middle class and with BR-V Honda will definitely make its presence felt sometime next year, this could be the big break they have been waiting for in a long time.
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