Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First Drive: 2017 Honda BR-V 1.5 V Navi


On paper, the Honda BR-V looks like a Frankenstein product: part Mobilio, part CR-V, part Jazz. It’s not supposed to make sense, but in reality it does. Honda perfectly knows that the small crossover segment is fast growing and they figured that the best way to capitalize on that popularity is to merge it with yet another strong segment in the industry: the 7-seater MPV. The end result is a 7-seater crossover that doesn’t really push the limits of imagination, but still manages to live up to expectations.

At a glance, you can tell that the BR-V owes its appearance to the Mobilio with the tall greenhouse and “lightning kink” on the rear door, both being design cues of Honda’s 7-seater MPV. And though designers have done quite a bit, visually raising the BR-V’s appearance (the new nose certainly helps), the overall proportions (such as the rear overhang) are more MPV than SUV. That criticism aside, the BR-V does manage to tick all the requisite SUV design cues: black wheel cladding, flared arches, front and rear skid plates, and functional roof rails. Even the re-designed front and rear clips have done their job to toughen up the appearance compared to the Mobilio.




Poking around the BR-V reveals even more interesting cues worth mentioning. First, despite running on the same platform, the BR-V is slightly longer in all dimensions than the Mobilio. In fact, even the wheelbase has been extended by 8 millimeters. Second, the 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels have a 5-lug pattern compared to the Mobilio’ 4-lug one. It’s probably a minor thing, but aftermarket peeps will love the fact that the BR-V will fit a wider selection of rims. Finally, the BR-V has the most ground clearance among all Honda products offered in the Philippines with 201 millimeters.

While the BR-V’s exterior looks remain questionable, there’s no doubt that Honda has weaved their magic once more when it comes to interior packaging. Opening the door requires just the push of a button and the step-in height is perfect, not necessitating much effort to slide into the driver’s seat. Inside, it has three rows of seats that everyone, including those in the last row, will find comfortable. It’s also mighty flexible as well with the second row having a 60/40-split folding, tumbling, sliding, and reclining mechanism while the third row having a 50/50-split folding and tumbling one. Honda is also proud of the low loading height which makes putting in of heavy and bulky items easier.



The all-black cabin looks pretty austere at first, but is modern and functional throughout. The plastics are generally hard, but are of good quality and all the fittings do feel solid. It doesn’t look like there’s a cohesive flow to the BR-V’s dashboard, but at least it’s easy to understand and operate, and that’s what counts. Front and center to the driver is a familiar control layout consisting of an instrument cluster nicked from the current City and a steering wheel nicked from the 8th-generation Civic. Rummaging through the Honda parts bin may not sound appealing, but why reinvent the (steering) wheel? The three-spoke tiller itself is nice to grasp while the gauge cluster is a lesson in simplicity. Interestingly, it doesn’t have the ambient coaching light found in the City or Jazz—it has an “Eco” indicator that lights up whenever it’s driven economically.

The front seats look slim, but they do offer ample support to all but the largest framed drivers. Also unlike the Mobilio, the headrests are now adjustable, though the seat height remains fixed. In addition, the steering wheel is only adjustable for height and not for reach. That said, the resulting driving position still comfortable and one that you would pretty much expect in a crossover or SUV: tall, with a commanding view of the road ahead.



The short handling course during this preview drive didn’t exceed more than five kilometers, so it’s hard to judge the BR-V’s merits purely on that. That said, it’s clear that a diesel motor’s more suited to ferrying six adults up and down the zigzag roads of Tagaytay Highlands. Still, the sole engine, a 1.5-liter gasoline engine is more than up to the task, though it needs to be wrung to get good pace going. Shared with the Mobilio, the 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine generates 120 horsepower and 145 Nm of torque: pretty good numbers, only you have to bring it up past 3,000 rpm to get some good oomph. Once it hits the sweet spot though, it’s got good punch and feels refined. And compared to the Mobilio’s CVT, the BR-V seems to shuffle its ratios quicker making the whole exercise feel snappier. Though not tested during this drive, the range-topping variant also has the added benefit of paddle shifters.

In terms of ride, the BR-V’s pretty good. Though firmer than the Mobilio, it does soak up the bumps well and won’t make a fuss about potholes and broken asphalt. It has a tendency to shake when going through ribbed roads, but it’s not a deal breaker. The big trade off with the taller ride height is that it loses some precision when cornering. Granted this is an entry-level crossover and not a sports car, it’s something noticeable even to novice journalists. Enter a bend slightly faster than you should and you’ll be greeted with understeer. It does feel planted and secure at all times, but it necessitates numerous amounts of steering correction just to get it dialed in. What’s more, there’s no feedback from the wheel itself.




The all-new Honda BR-V may not light up the imagination of enthusiasts when it comes to its design or driving dynamics, but these shouldn’t deter would-be buyers. Cynics aside, the BR-V heeds the call for a well-packaged, well-equipped (leather seats, navigation, push-button start/stop on the range-topping variant), and safe (dual airbags, ABS, and vehicle stability assist with hill start assist are standard across both variants) family SUV. For some, it may not offer the same allure as a large, mid-sized SUV, but considering its smart packaging (it doesn’t occupy the same amount of space as a house) and its indicative pricing (ranging from less than P 1,000,000 and topping out at P 1,150,000), it’s an interesting entry point to Honda’s philosophy of providing an experience that’s man-maximum, machine-minimum.


36 comments:

  1. 1m to 1.5m price makes it a tough sell for the BRV considering a lot of good models from competitors are offerred, some even turbo charged.

    To make a differrence, BrV should be priced in the vicinity of the Wigo, Mirage or Celerio. Otherwise, Honda's business strategy for this model wont work.

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    1. ^Priced as same as an A segment car? lol. You know nothing about cars if that's the case.

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  2. Sorry, should read 1m to 1.15m.
    Look, Juke is just 980 and the Ecosport roughly the same price. Come on Honda?

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    1. They don't offer 7 seats and I read somewhere that it was Honda's marketing strategy to price its products a little higher than its competitors.

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  3. Nice but its just a few hundred grand ess than the mux or trailblazer or if you could swallow the looks of the innova. I would choose the diesel suvs mpv over this.

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  4. Lol. Funny to the guy who wants it priced like a wigo etc.

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  5. I think the drivers seat is not adjustable.

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    1. I remember it being adjustable.

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    2. I stand corrected. It is fixed for height. I mistook it for the HR-V which we also drove at the time.

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  6. I should be the same price range with avanza and etigra which are 7seater..

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  7. This vehicle needs larger wheels.
    Those 16 inch alloys look so small for its body.

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  8. Actually the Avanza and Ertiga's competitor is the Mobilio. If it were the Toyota Rush vs the BRV crossover that would've made more sense to compare. I think the BRV has no competitor at the moment if we consider the category vs the price.

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    1. Its a raised mobilio with some makeup and lipstick

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  9. I have an apple. I have a pen. Apple pen. Ugh!
    Like the Japanese singing in his pajama it looks ugly. Look at the back light. It's like an old man's eyeglasses. The front design came from the old Crv. The whole design just doesn't work. Who in the right would say this is a good design.

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  10. ..in his right mind..

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  11. Like what i've said, people without mental defect will buy this only if the price is about 700k to 850k. Thats the only argument for this model to sell. The segment is already contested by nice cars like Juke, Ecosport, CX3, HrV, Trax or even Cx2. Hope Honda is listening !

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    1. The CX-3 is way above the levels of the others you mentioned. The CX-3 competes with the XV and HRV. There's no CX-2, maybe you meant the Mazda 2? But its in a different segment.

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  12. Deal breakers: it doesn't have a center console/armrest, limited cup holders and AC vents...

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    1. 2nd row seats recline? How does seats fold? Are they a pain or do they have a one touch button like the premium models? I dont like the folded bulky third-row seats of Innova its so third-world, it should be flush to the floor.

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    2. 1.1 million wala manlang armrest kalokohan tlga . Buy for ride comfort not on look comfort unless mag cacarshow ka armrest lang di pa maisabit .... tsktsk di worth it

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  13. Honda needs to understand that the prestige their brand once had has diminished when they stopped innovating compared to their competitors. Before honda was more expensive not just of their brand but they were a step ahead in technology but today they still price that way without the innovation. And no this is not innovation at all its a step back. 1.5 displacement on a 7 seaterwithout turbo . Brio mobilio body and like what you said chop chop tlga ung design in practicality it might sell pero in what honda actually is and still want to be seen this is obviously a thumbs down. And add poor customer service. With that. Yup we have three honda cars all bought brand new we loved them all but not their sales reps. Mga makukupad and mukang pera.

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    1. They lost the passion. The cars no longer have souls. Selling in large volumes is where they're at.

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    2. The passion shifted to Mazda now. Honda's cars feel half-dead, Toyota's cars feel dead. Whereas Mazda's lineup feels so alive when you drive them. The drawback is the interior space however

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    3. Yeah the prestige evaporated when they started marketing those ugly looking cars (i.e. CR-V). Some people are influenced by movies, they see cars as a means of self expression. Its 50-50 --- quality and looks.

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  14. Tignan niyo price nila sa india ah.... and i wont be bias they have a different dashboard sa india same yata sa brio and mobilio pro all else the same so kung dito dapat kasing price lang yan ng ecosport - Honda has unleashed a new entry-level crossover in South Africa. Slotting below the HR-V, and priced between R238 900 and R288 300, the BR-V undercuts popular compact crossovers such as the Ford EcoSport (R247 900 - R302 900) and Renault Captur (R249 900 - R304 900).

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  15. With its size, no one would use the Eco button anyway.

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  16. Honda has lost it, they use to make vehicles with great quality-to-price value but now they have become leaders of market hype rather than anything else. Especially in the 1.2M & up range like the HR-V and the CR-V, what happened to the ride quality, comparing it with that ol' XV, X-Trail or the Forester. Their service is another area where Honda really lost its grip, takes them more than half a day to complete a regular 10k PMS, with a confirmed appointment. Remember back in the days where Honda vehicles have a distinctively sedate build quality and ride, now it's all about hype and on-your-face cost cut utilitarian product. Let's hope the BR-V will put some justice to the already unbecoming brand.

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  17. With that pricing I would rather get an base model Innova or Mux.
    Diesel tough on a utility base platform.

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  18. some say the front end looks like it was grafted from the previous gen CR-V but you'll all be surprised to see the just released all new model of the CR-V, looks like the BR-V(which was released first by the way). It's such a shame because the CR-V competes in a higher segment of the market but then they decided to make it look like this entry-level "SUV". I mean come on, they would charge premium for buying the CR-V and then see another car that looks like a CR-V with much less prestige and pricing? I feel like it's an insult to the buyers because they know they would buy their products in any way they offer it. I know that there are design philosophies for every car manufacturer that sort of makes every model look the same under the same brand but can't you just make some models distinct from the other offerings relative to the price? And yeah, the price of this BR-V is way above what it is supposed to be at. You could buy a much better looking, feeling, driving and engineered car for just a couple hundred thousand bucks more like the Fort, Monti, Everest, MU-X, and Trail B.

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  19. Any comments on the after sales market like the yearly insurance of this new BR-V compared to those of the Everest, MUX, Trail B?

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  20. I cant wait for this!.. already bought ecosport :)

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  21. I was lucky to test drive the BRV here in bacolod,The car is ok but the only thing that I don't like is there is no driver seat height adjustment.Thats suppose to be standard issue.

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  22. Wake up, Honda. Your glory days are long gone. Just because it's a Honda it doesn't mean the public will eat it up. Your products are getting uglier and more expensive and the Philippine market is getting wiser. From being the one of the Tops 3 brands in the country you're now down to No. 5. That says a lot.

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