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TEST DRIVE FEATURE: 5 Reasons why you should wait for the all-new Honda BR-V…


It was not long ago that Autofreaks first viewed the all-new Honda BR-V, which was showcased at the Gaikindo Indonesia International Motorshow 2015, and while it looked impressively shiny and resplendent on stage over there, as the proverb goes ‘the proof in the pudding is in the eating’ and thus, as part of Honda Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.’s media programme to the 2015 Tokyo Motorshow recently, we were finally given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the BR-V at Honda’s Proving Ground in Tochigi, Japan. And yeah folks, if you’ve recently bought a 7-seater MPV, you may not wanna continue reading this….it’s gonna hurt.


I was trying to think of the best way to tell y’all (I was going to type ‘impart my drive experience’ but that sounds just a bit too serious for something as fun as the BR-V) about Honda’s latest baby – set to appear in our shores in the foreseeable future, and priced below RM100k – and so I figured the best way, in our fast and frenetic world, would be to list 5 of the best things about it. From there, you should be able to figure it out for yourself if this ‘MPSUV’ has a place in your garage or not. Let’s begin…


1. Looks – Let’s face it, Malaysians buy their cars according to what they see and how they look. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can make the best car in the world but if it looks like the dog’s breakfast, no one is going to buy it. Case in point, the Fiat Multipla; great to drive, but it looks like it fell off the ugly-tree and hit every branch on the way down. So if a car grabs your attention right-off the bat and sustains your interest for more than 5-seconds, chances are you’ll probably like it, and that’s one of the things that the BR-V does, immediately.


It’s also where the acronym ‘MPSUV’ comes from. Yes, it’s a multi-passenger vehicle, but it also looks very SUV-ish, despite having no AWD, ToD or 4WD capability. It’s strictly a FWD, but exudes a sportiness that’s not often found in an MPV. There’s some very clever use of body-lines going on, especially when it comes to the side of the BR-V. MPV’s are known to be ‘slab-sided’, for example the Toyota Alphard; it looks like the side of a barn, and almost big enough to be one. Not so with the BR-V, which in comparison and thanks to a myriad of tapered lines and swoops, manages to actually hide the fact that it’s a 7-seater.


My favourite part is what the designers did with the rear door. If you look closely, (above) it actually has a downward curve just after the B-pillar. Now not only does this improve the outward visibility for rear-passengers, it also serves to eliminate that aforementioned slab-sidedness. Clever use of indentations in the rear-bumper also serve to break the monotony of flat-surfaces, and unlike the HR-V, the BR-V has rear tail-lights that actually look very decent. There’s not much to say about the front-end really, it’s reminiscent of the HR-V, and features an instantly recognizable Honda family ‘face’.

2. Interior – Quite possibly the most important aspect of any vehicle is what it feels like inside (it’s also probably the only reason anyone even bought the aforementioned Multipla). It has to be said though that the BR-V is going to be targeted at the budget-conscious buyer – my bet is that there will typically be three spec levels to choose from when it’s eventually introduced in Malaysia, with prices hovering at around RM82,888 – and knowing that, the designers went about vastly improving tactile-feel. Seeing as how the lowest spec variant will unlikely be adorned with a lot of kit, it’s gratifying to see that even so, it doesn’t ‘feel’ cheap.

Many thanks to our model Akkbar Danial of HMSB! He’s a pretty big dude and seems quite comfy back there…
It’s also good to note that the last row of seats (foldable-flat when not in use) don’t feel like solitary-confinement in Nevada State Penitentiary. There’s actually a decent enough amount of room back there, and because the second and third row seats can be configured and folded in a multitude of ways, there’s an abundance of passenger and cargo room in the BR-V. In short, it’s a lot bigger than it looks from the outside, and that’s a design trick that Honda have been putting to good use for a while now; Man Maximum, Machine Minimum….it’s not just a catchy phrase.


3. Powertrain – What’s that saying about ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’? Rather than develop a new engine and gearbox for the BR-V, Honda has chosen to stick to the tried, tested and proven 1.5-litre, in-line 4-cylinder, SOHC iVTEC engine, mated to a CVT gearbox (think Jazz, HR-V & City), with normal and sport mode.


The engine is good for 120Ps and 145Nm of torque, and sufficient to shuffle the BR-V along at a decent pace. Slotting the gear-lever into Sport mode does allow the revs to climb a bit more before the next ratio is selected, and while at this point in most other MPV’s I’d say “it is best to just leave it in ‘D’ and drive sedately”, I can’t because…


4. Ride & Handling – This is where the BR-V earns its biggest brownie points. Granted for all intents and purposes it’s an MPV, and yes, it’s very comfortable to putter around it as it should be, however, on the second lap of the test drive, I decided to slot the gearstick in ‘S’ and give it the beans for two very good reasons: one, we were on a closed course, and two, because I was getting sleepy. Fully expecting this MPV to handle spirited driving with the dexterity and nimbleness of a three-tonne walrus trying Zumba for the first time, I was actually quite amazed how well the BR-V was tackling those corners. Even my co-driver, after being chucked around for a couple of corners and wisely deciding to use the grab-handles to steady himself, remarked “You know despite you driving like a d***head, this thing is actually doing pretty well around here”, to which I wholeheartedly agreed.


5. Overall Impression – Let’s get personal shall we? No, I’m not going to tell you the colour of my underwear, or even if I’m even wearing any, instead I’m going to tell you what I think of this BR-V. I think that Honda has a winner on its hands, and not because the BR-V is perfect; there is no such thing. Why I think it’s a winner is because quite simply, Honda has created something that not only do people in Stage 3 of their lives need, but they are also going to ‘want’. It’s a left-brain / right-brain thing really. No one ‘wants’ to buy an MPV; everyone would rather have something cute, sporty and howling-mad, but a growing family does not need a Lotus Elise, it needs an MPV. So what Honda has done knowing this, is to inject a little fun and mischievousness into the BR-V, so that those who sign the dotted-line for it, won’t feel like they’re signing their own ‘youthful-carefree-lifestyle’ death-certificate.

The Honda BR-V is the kind of vehicle that one with a growing family really needs, but it’s also designed and produced in such a way that families are going to want it as well. Bottom line, is it worth waiting for? Hell yes. – Chris Wee.

Honda BR-V Photo Gallery…

(Images by CW and courtesy of HMSB, Interior shots courtesy of Hans Cheong, ‘cos mine sucked)