Honda BR-V First Drive Review: The next big compact SUV

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Updated: October 28, 2015 12:41:20 PM

The BR-V, developed by Honda R&D Asia Pacific (HRAP), is a new generation crossover utility vehicle which is designed to receive seven people. It shares its platform with the Brio hatchback, Amaze sedan and the Mobilio MPV.

Honda BR-V Compact SUV IndiaHonda BR-V will be launched in India in Q1FY17; we briefly drive the prototype version at the Motegi track in Japan

When it is launched in the next financial year (likely April-June 2016), Honda’s new compact SUV, the BR-V, will take on the likes of Maruti Suzuki S-Cross, Renault Duster and Hyundai Creta, among others.

To be showcased at the Auto Expo 2016 in Delhi, the BR-V is based on the same platform as the Brio, the Amaze and the Mobilio MPV. However, that’s where the similarity ends. While from a distance it looks more or less identical to the Mobilio MPV, get closer and you realise it’s unlike most cars you’ve seen in India.

What makes it a ‘compact’ SUV?

The design is a bit on the bolder side – it gets large 16-inch alloy wheels, matte black plastic cladding around the body, sleek roof rails and better ground clearance than the Mobilio. However, the BR-V doesn’t look macho, at least not like the Duster. Short for Bold Runabout Vehicle, Honda calls the BR-V a crossover utility vehicle, which is compact yet can seat seven. We are not yet certain if the BR-V that will be manufactured in India will get more SUV features such as hill-start assist.

Honda BR-V compact SUV for India

Does it look compact?

Not really. At over 4.3 metres in length, the BR-V is longer than all compact SUVs currently available in India. Its wheelbase – at 2,652 mm – is similar to that of the Mobilio; only the Duster (2,673 mm) has a longer wheelbase.

Is it compact on the inside?

A long wheelbase ensures more cabin space, and that’s where Honda seems to have succeeded. Like the Mobilio, the BR-V is a seven-seater vehicle, but with even better space management. While Honda did not share interior specifications with us, the space, in all the three rows and the luggage area, is a centimetre or two more than in the Mobilio. The second row gets roof-mounted AC vents.

What about the engines?

The BR-V will be powered by Honda’s trusted 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines (i-VTEC and i-DTEC, respectively) that you find in the City; so expect the power and torque figures to be more or less similar. Honda has confirmed that the petrol variant will get the CVT transmission, which, in fact, we briefly drove at the test track right next to the Motegi racing arena in Japan. The BR-V drives more like a sedan than an SUV; the body roll is minimal. The CVT box behaves in a similar fashion as it does in the City.

Honda's upcoming compact SUV

Call it compact SUV, call it crossover or call it utility, the BR-V, at first instance, comes across as a very practical vehicle which can be used either as a five-seater or seven. To be manufactured at the company’s Tapukara plant in Rajasthan, we expect it to be priced Rs 10 lakh onwards, ex-showroom, Delhi. Honda Cars India, in fact, will soon start conducting product clinics across the country to get customer feedback on features and price.

Pointers:

– High ground clearance
– Big roof rails
– 16-inch alloy wheels
– Spacious cabin
– Roof-mounted rear AC vents
– 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine
– 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine
– CVT in petrol variant

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