Honda South Africa is busy sorting out its supply lines following the announcement by Honda India it will cease production of the 7-seater BR-V, where units for the local market are currently sourced – this announcement mere months after the updated version was released locally and found its way to my driveway.
“Honda Motor Southern Africa has no plans to discontinue the BR-V and is currently securing sufficient stock of the BR-V from India while the alternate factory is being set up for production,” says Dinesh Govender, General Manager of Automobiles at Honda Motor Southern Africa.
The updates for 2020 are mainly aesthetic but, do include technology such as LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors on the Comfort and Elegance models, as well as an attractive and easy-to-use touchscreen Audio Display for the flagship derivatives.
Most obvious among the changes for the latest model is the addition of LED lighting technology, which not only improves visibility and safety for other road users, but lends the BR-V a more impactful and modern appearance.
Distinctive LED Daytime Running Lights are now incorporated into the lower portion of the redesigned headlight clusters.
The BR-V is now equipped with rear parking sensors on the mid-range Comfort and top-spec Elegance models – the latter the subject of this review – to make parking manoeuvres significantly easier. The BR-V Elegance also features a seven-inch Display Audio touchscreen system with an integrated reverse parking camera.
Driving comfort has been significantly improved through the addition of extra soundproofing insulation material. This reduces the amount of road and engine noise entering the cabin, lending the BR-V a quieter and more refined drive.
The BR-V has always had ‘love it or leave it’ looks and, to my mind, is not properly symmetrical in that the short, low front end is car-like while the bulk of the body appears to have been attached as an afterthought.
Fortunately we all have different opinions that are generally subjective and mine comes from an ardent Jaguar fan who fervently believes the E-Type is one of the ugliest cars ever built and Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ was a commercial sellout.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with the comfort, layout and usability of the BR-V as a people mover in, or out of, traffic.
The 1,5-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine continues to power the BR-V range, producing 88 kW of power at 6 600 r/min and peak torque of 145 Nm at 4 600 r/min, driving the test unit through a six-speed manual gearbox (a CVT is also available).
The engine is capable but lacks low speed torque and does become a bit rowdy in the upper reaches of the rev range.
For the test cycle this returned an overall average of 7,1 l/100 km, a bit higher than the figure claimed by Honda but still within the bounds of acceptable.
The BR-V’s SUV appearance and practicality remain key selling features, with the 210 mm ground clearance and 16-inch wheels shod with 195/65 R16 tyres coping reasonably well with less than perfect roads.
It is built on the same platform that underpins the Brio and Mobilio (the latter discontinued locally) and measures 2 655 mm between the axles, which explains the generous internal dimensions, and 4 453 mm nose to tail.
With all the seats in place there is still enough boot space for the monthly groceries, school bags or even a long weekend away – fold the third row flat and this space jumps to 691 litres. The second-row bench features a 60:40 split with reclining backrest. The smaller seat section can be tumbled forward to provide easy access to the 50:50 split third-row seats.
It can fit adults in all seating rows provided those in the third row are not front row rugby forwards.
The McPherson strut (front) and rear torsion beam suspension setup cope quite well with providing a smooth ride at low speeds. However, at higher speeds the tarmac ripples do find their way into the cabin, although the tweaks mentioned earlier make this less of an annoyance.
The high ground clearance also means the BR-V is suited to off-road travel on reasonable dirt roads and it comes standard with anti-lock brakes along with dual front crash bags.
There is anti-theft security by means of an engine immobiliser, remote central locking and speed-sensitive auto door locking. Power windows all-round and air-conditioning add comfort and convenience, and a full-colour display that incorporates an integrated reverse parking camera.
All models come standard with a five-year/200 000 km warranty and three-year AA Roadside Assist. A new four-year/60 000 km 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.