I honestly do not get the rationale of the Honda Mobilio. I was afraid that the car would end up like the Nissan Grand Livina which did not sell in huge numbers. I got even more confused when Honda Cars Philippines launched the Mobilio’s platform twin, the BR-V. My fears were later quelled as other carmakers also launched their seven-seat MPV and crossovers with varying levels of success. So, when Honda gave me an opportunity to test drive a BR-V 1.5 V, I have to admit that I was genuinely intrigued. Just what makes the thing click?
From the outside, the refreshed BR-V looks good. The revised front fascia made it look like a baby CR-V. Just ignore the character lines on its side. The 16-inch alloys and tires fit perfectly within the crossover’s wheel well. With a ground clearance of 201mm, it can clear most speed bumps and road imperfections within the metro. Just don’t expect it to do some serious off-roading. While the rear end looks good as well, the Mobilio’s seems to have the sportier look. But that’s just me.
The interior is a nice place to be in. The blacked-out cabin is classy and easier to maintain than if it had light-colored upholstery. Red inserts and contrast stitching give it a sporty character. The instrument panel has legible dials, while the big buttons on the climate control have a good tactile feel. Audiophiles would be pleasantly surprised to see a Kenwood infotainment system that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It managed to make the stock speakers sound a lot better than I expected. The tall roof gives the BR-V a roomy feel. Suddenly, Honda’s claims that you can fit seven people in the car seemed truer than ever. The front and middle-row seats have decent wiggle room even for adults. However, the third-row bench is best left for smaller people or kids. Cup holders and cubbyholes are aplenty, and the rear blower is strong enough to keep the cabin cool all the way towards the back.
The BR-V has awkward dimensions that may need some getting used to. A-pillars are a little too big, while the front and rear windshields are a bit too small, resulting to quite a few blind spots. There are no parking sensors, so the reversing camera helps. The aim could be better with some tweaking, though. But once you get used to it, you’ll find that this car is actually easy to drive. The electrically assisted steering weighs up nicely and has decent feedback – good for maneuvering in tight spaces and cruising down the highway.
The BR-V shares its 1.5-liter i-VTEC mill with the Mobilio, Jazz, and the City. This engine produces 118hp of output and 145Nm of torque, making it the most powerful in its class. That power is smoothly transferred to the front wheels thanks to Honda’s Earth Dreams CVT. Despite the engine’s rev-happy nature, slight taps to the accelerator are all you need to get the car moving. While the BR-V is more than 200kg heavier than the Jazz, I found the performance decent enough to deal with Antipolo’s steep inclines. I even managed to get 9km/L in the city and up to 18 on the highway, which genuinely impressed me. The ride is on the firm side, especially that I wasn’t able to fully utilize its seven seats, but it behaves on the road much better than its competitors.
When I got to Cogeo’s chokepoints, the hill-start assist kept me from rolling back inadvertently. As the rains started to fall on my way home, the anti-lock brakes and stability control allowed me to deal with sweeping roads with confidence. Rounding up the list of safety features are dual airbags, three-point seatbelts for all passengers and ISOFIX tethers.
But as good as the BR-V is, it isn’t perfect. The tall-sidewall tires can get quite noisy when you pick up speed. I also noticed the electrical fluctuation every time the AC compressor turns on. This is supposed to be normal but for some reason, it bothered me. The doors automatically unlock when I shift to Park which is a bit annoying. I would have preferred the doors unlocking as the engine is turned off. Finally, the test unit’s shift position indicator on the gear lever was busted, but it’s a minor issue that can easily be fixed.
Four years in the market and with newer offerings available, the BR-V somehow starts to show its age. But thanks to its good driving dynamics and outstanding features, this car offers great value for money which makes it still enticing proposition in this cutthroat segment.
HONDA BR-V 1.5 V
|Engine||1.5-liter four-cylinder SOHC gasoline|
|Power||118hp @ 6,600rpm|
|Torque||145Nm @ 4,600rpm|
|Dimensions||4,456mm x 1,735mm x 1,677mm|
|Upside||Peppy but fuel-efficient engine. Easy-to-use controls. Infotainment system. Good road manners.|
|Downside||Lots of blind spots. Absence of proximity sensors. Stiff ride.|