More than 2000km, 200 litres of petrol, 3 months and a bump to the front right fender (courtesy Noida’s rogue e-rickshaw drivers) later, it is time to say goodbye to our BR-V long-termer. It's a bittersweet farewell, like the fact that I won’t miss the way it burns its way through the immaculate blue back-lit fuel gauge and my bank account, on my 52 km daily commute through Delhi’s rush-hours or the fact that the7-Speed CVT gearbox that has considerable amount of rubber band effect, and of course the fact that it doesn’t get a reversing camera even for the range-topping And that’s the end of the very short list of things I don’t like about the Honda BR-V. Otherwise, it’s a spacious seven-seater with good ride good clearance, decent interiors and thanks to it’s Honda heritage, it’s extremely reliable and at idling speeds the 1.5-litre I-VTEC engine is so silent that one needs to take a quick glance at the tacho to ascertain whether it’s still on. Overall, Honda’s BR-V is a decent repackage of the Mobilio as a compact SUV.
On the inside, the BR-V shares most of its bits with the previous generation Honda City as it gets a single DIN audio system with a simple white on black LED display. The BR-V’s all black theme does look premium, but put in comparison with the other cars in the segment the BR-V does look a bit dated. On the upside, the Honda City derived steering feels nice in the hand and is quite precise considering the BR-Vs dimensions, and the paddle shifters make coping with the CVT automatic a little easier. The HFT which is what the BR-Vs infotainment is called pairs quite easily with my phone and that’s something that doesn’t feel like a lot but it does make a huge difference in everyday use. In terms of space, the BR-V has that in oodles and even the third row of seats can fit my 6-foot frame which is really great considering no other car in its class really have this seating capacity. The third-row, however, isn’t comfortable for long durations and is best suited for short runs. What’s even better is that even with the third row of seats filled, the BR-V still has a place for a few suitcases and bags in the boot.
BR-V Engine and Transmission
The petrol BR-V shares its motor with the Honda City, and the 1.5-litre I-VTEC does make 118 hp and about 145 Nm of torque, but in city conditions, with the CVT it does negate the free-revving and peppy nature of the City’s engine. The manual, on the other hand, remains engaging to drive although that’s not the one that we have been driving. That said this does go away on highways and long hauls, and on the highway where the CVT has enough time to cycle through the rubber-band effect and quick jolts of acceleration are replaced by long smooth strokes, the CVT works perfectly fine. The CVT is best used in Sport-Mode on the transmission with the paddle shifter to work around the rubber-band effect between shifts (although this does mean you’re average efficiency drops heavily).
Now drive and dynamics is another place the BR-V really scores big. Because everything from the magically large insides from a fair outer shell, and the really low seating with the suspension mounted high, allows for good ground clearance without adding in the body roll that you would expect in a three-row seven-seater. It stays planted at high speeds, and it changes direction and goes around corners with quite some ease if you consider it’s size and length. And despite this, it has a considerable amount of ground clearance and does go off-road considerably well.
Now for what it is the BR-V looks quite good. Its design is modern and the sharp, added to the plastic cladding it even manages to look muscular. The machine cut alloys look pretty classy and the thick chrome plate on the grill somehow adds to the butch appearance set on a black honeycomb fibre looks good too. Overall in comparison to the competition, it does still look like a butched up Mobilio, and that might set it back a bit.
After using it for three months, using it on my daily commute through rush hour. Here’s what I think of the BR-V, it’s a comfortable convenient to use 7-seater that is pretty decent to drive. It makes sense if you’re looking for a practical, refined seven seater for family/friends and road trips, and because it's a Honda you know that it will get a really reliable engine. Although, we would definitely advise the manual for those who want a slightly more spirited drive. And the shortcomings I pointed out in the BR-V in this long-term review, I’m sad to see it go.