It’s no secret that the success of the SUV sector, at the expense of other more traditional automobile forms, has taken the world by storm over the past few years. The shift started gradually with the introduction of luxury SUVs, and since we’ve seen the SUV trend percolate down to virtually all segments, it’s led to customers abandoning traditional sedans in favour of SUVs the world over. This makes even more sense in the Indian market, as our dilapidated road conditions mean that SUVs – with their higher ground clearance – are able to cope with the conditions better than sedans.
To tap into this booming market, Honda introduced its version of an affordable crossover-SUV, the BR-V, earlier this year to mixed reactions. When showcased at the Auto Expo earlier in the year, the one question in everyone’s mind was whether the BR-V looked aggressive enough to compete in its segment – or whether it looked too much like a jacked up version of its sibling, the Mobilio. Out in the real world, we have to admit, while the BR-V is a non-offensive design, it simply doesn’t have the road presence to justify the tag of being an SUV. And, to give credit where its due, Honda was smart enough to label it a crossover.
The interiors of the BR-V, meanwhile, feature an amalgamation of design and features from the company’s parts bin – with parts shared between the Amaze and the Mobilio. So, while one gets climate control, the basic display of the audio unit and lack of standard features does make the BR-V look under equipped. However, to give it credit where due once more, it is one of the most affordable seven-seater vehicles in India – and that’s a distinct USP that the BR-V has over its competition.
And on the track, during our mega test, a few things stood out for the crossover – while the 1.5-litre diesel engine might not have class-leading NVH levels, it does deliver power in a smooth manner and is quite refined even at the redline. And despite its raised height, the BR-V is quite comfortable when pushed to the limit and can be thrown around with great confidence. But the enthusiast in us also thinks that the chassis is capable of handling much more power, and the BR-V would be far more fun if the power levels were bumped up a bit.
So, ultimately, the BR-V scores well in terms of practicality, and is fairly nice to drive on both road and track, but the lack of aggression in the design, and in terms of power output, not to mention being relatively under equipped compared to its rivals, means that the BR-V loses out. If only Honda would give it some more power, aggression and equipment, the results could be altogether different. If you need seven seats, however, this is one of your most affordable options.