Lucky Number Seven
Our market is, without a doubt, one that is very receptive to the sport-utility vehicle.
The tall, wagon-body style is an attractive proposition that offers plenty of versatility when it comes to seating capacities, space, and practicality. And then, there’s the higher ride height, enabling you to clear more obstacles such as debris, speedbumps, and the occasional flood than your usual 4-door saloon car. The SUV just makes a lot of sense to own, and that’s the reason why we see so many of them with various shapes, sizes, countries of origins, price points, and more on the road.
One such up-and-coming model is this: the 2017 Honda BR-V.
Just to clarify, the BR-V is not an SUV based on the classic definition of the term. There are two kinds of SUVs: one is the traditional body-on-frame, truck-based SUV like your Pajero, Land Cruiser, or Everest, while the other is the monocoque/unibody crossover SUV like your RAV4, EcoSport, and CR-V. The BR-V is classified under the latter.
The most common misconception about the BR-V is that it’s an EcoSport competitor. Really, it’s not; as it’s longer, wider, priced higher, and seats 2 more people.
The BR-V is the crossover version of the Honda Mobilio MPV. At 4456mm long, 1735mm wide, and 1665mm tall, it’s bigger in every respect, but only just. What matters -and what really qualifies this as a crossover- is the higher ride height; at 201mm, it’s 12mm more than the Mobilio’s ground clearance. Sure, it’s not exceptional by the standards of SUVs that can go off-road, but the BR-V’s ride height is more than adequate for most kinds of urban (urban what?) and for traversing light floods.
The design is a bit more square when compared to the Mobilio. The side is, of course, very similar (apart from the matte-black cladding) as the doors appear to be interchangeable between the BR-V and Mobilio, especially with those upswept character lines. The rear is very different; if anything, the tailgate and the “connected” taillights are quite unique. Overall, it’s a good-looking compact (or subcompact?) crossover. And this being the Modulo-equipped variant, it looks quite striking with the added wraparound skirts, and other accessories, including the extra LEDs on the bumper.
The interior design is very nice indeed, featuring a clean, modern, and functional look. The steering wheel is actually from the previous generation Jazz, Civic and City, and comes equipped with steering wheel audio controls.-There’s a 2-DIN touchscreen audio unit with Bluetooth telephony, USB input, and even HDMI input so you can mirror your phone on the screen. And yes, it comes with Garmin’s very clean navigation system.
I like that there was a good amount of storage in the cabin and the abundance of cupholders; something always useful for a roadtrip with the family or a group of friends. Space is actually decent. With all rows up, there is 223 liters of capacity available for cargo. With the third row folded down, it more than doubles to 470, but if you tumble it forward, that goes up to 523. The second row is good, though the third row is a bit tight for adults; you’ll have to sit with your legs a bit higher than you would like for longer drives. For kids? It’s fine.
Under the hood is a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine matched with the Earth Dreams CVT, much like the Honda Mobilio. The engine is rated for 120 bhp and 107 foot pounds of torque. It’s really not much, and that’s what we found to be unusual; such figures are fine for a small crossover with five people inside, but seven will be tricky, especially if you’re headed up a mountain.
The powertrain proved to be smooth and quiet, though quite a bit of ambient noise does permeate into the cabin from loud motorcycles and jeepneys. The ride quality is well balanced, and the leather seats are comfortable for long periods in traffic. I liked the convenience of the automatic climate control system, and the rear air-conditioning vents proved useful to aid in cooling down the cabin even in our intense summer heat.
There’s good fuel economy if you’re driving solo from home to the office, as this 1.5V easily does 7.9 km/l at an average speed of 18 km/h. With a cabin laden with heavy cargo, like when you take delivery of some heavy power tools, that goes down a bit to 7.0 km/l (19 km/h average). On the highway, it’s better, as the BR-V easily did 13.6 km/l if you’re being smart about your accelerator use; though I expect that figure to drop significantly if you’re driving with a full cabin and/or up a mountain.
The BR-V is surprisingly good at cornering; of course, we can’t really push the envelopes on a crossover, but the BR-V does manage the twisty stuff well. Part of that is because it just weighs 1250 kilograms, but another part is the way Honda tuned the suspension. And it brakes quite well too despite having drum brakes in the back.
All in all, the 2017 Honda BR-V 1.5V Navi is quite an impressive package. Yes, it’s just a front-wheel drive. Yes, it’s not really that tall. Yes, it can’t really go off-road like an SUV should. Still, the BR-V is selling very well because it fits the bill of so many Filipinos just perfectly: seven seats, plenty of space, attractive looks, decent ground clearance, and affordable pricing.
And the fact that it has no direct competitor here can’t be too bad either.
2017 Honda BR-V 1.5V Navi Modulo
Engine: Inline-4, 1496cc sohc 16V, i-VTEC, CVT
Max Power: 120 bhp @ 6600 rpm
Max Torque: 107 lb ft @ 4600 rpm
0-100 km/h: 12.6 sec.
Top Speed: 190km/h
Fuel Mileage: 7.9 km/l City / 13.6 km/l Highway
Price As Tested: PhP 1,185,000
+: Good looks, long list of equipment, versatile
-: Would be much better with a small turbodiesel
C! Rating: 9.0/10