Honda’s stylish BR-V updated
Updated: Apr 14
Writer: Ashref Ismail
As the economy shrinks and motorists begin to feel the pinch of buying, maintaining and running a motor car there is a definite ‘buy-down’ trend. With the high cost of motor vehicles in South Africa, it is difficult to accept that a compact, four-seater multi-purpose vehicle can cost in the region of R300 000. While this price point becomes the accepted benchmark, the choices are many and varied, so would-be buyers looking for a stylish and economical run-around that can serve multiple roles would be spoilt for choice.
One manufacturer that has been flying under the radar is Honda SA. Known for its excellent reputation for building quality cars that are sometimes a bit quirky, its sales figures have not really worried its rivals much. Much of this could also be because of the perception of expensive maintenance costs of Honda vehicles after they come off the maintenance plan.
So while Honda SA boasts durable vehicles that retain good resale values, it tends to be hamstrung by a limited model range offering and constrained marketing budgets.
One vehicle from the Honda stable that always catches my eye, especially because I fell in love with it after testing it for a week, is the recently-refreshed Honda BR-V, which happens to be one of its top two best sellers.
Classed as a compact seven-seater, though admittedly, the rear-most seats are only really suitable for the very young, the BR-V is a stylish, compact and elegant multi-purpose vehicle. To say that the BR-V is truly eye-catching is an understatement. It needs to be viewed in the flesh to truly appreciate its sporty and modern lines, lending it a distinctive rugged personality. Compared to the Toyota Avanza, its obvious rival, the sporty looking BR-V makes the Toyota look ancient.
Honda Motors Southern Africa has refreshed its compact BR-V range for 2020 by introducing subtle changes to the interior and exterior design which are aimed at enhancing its style and functionality. Improvements have also been made to on-road drivability and comfort through the addition of new features and added noise insulation.
Some of the significant improvements include LED lighting technology, which improves visibility and safety for other road users; rear parking sensors on the mid-range Comfort and top-spec Elegance models to make parking manoeuvres significantly easier; and a seven-inch Display Audio touchscreen system with an integrated reverse parking camera.
Additional soundproofing material reduces the amount of road and engine noise entering the cabin, thus resulting in a quieter and more refined drive.
The renowned 1.5l i-VTEC four-cylinder engine continues to power the BR-V range, delivering adequate performance, but good fuel efficiency. It produces 88kW of power at 6 600r/min and peak torque of 145Nm at 4 600r/min. When travelling with a reasonable load, the 1.5l can feel a bit under-powered and could have been suitably matched to a 1.6l or a smaller unit that is turbo-charged. Now, that would have been a lively pocket rocket!
The BR-V Trend is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox only, while the Comfort and Elegance models are available with a six-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
For its relatively compact size, it stands proud because of its high 210mm ground clearance and a spacious and practical cabin that allows for various seat configurations, which means that versatility is a major advantage.
Safety is taken care of by the inclusion of ABS anti-lock brakes that are fitted across the range, along with dual front airbags. Anti-theft security is provided by means of an engine immobiliser, remote central locking, factory fitted alarm system and speed-sensitive auto door locking.
Exclusive to the updated flagship BR-V Elegance model is a new seven-inch Display Audio system, located above the climate controls in the centre stack of the dashboard. The full-colour display incorporates an integrated reverse parking camera, which complements the newly-introduced rear parking sensors. All models come standard with a five-year/200 000km warranty and three-year AA Roadside Assist. A new four-year/60 000km extended service plan is included on the Honda BR-V Comfort and Elegance models, and is available as an option on the Trend. Service intervals are every 15 000 km.