For Honda’s all-new BR-V, V also stands for versatility

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    Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. showcased their new BR-V,  a subcompact 7-seater SUV for this road adventure. BR-V stands for Bold Roundabout Vehicle. It’s a first in its class. I thought it was meant to compete versus the Ford Ecosport, Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Ssangyong Tivoli or compact MPVs like the Avanza, Ertiga or even Mobilio  which are all 7-seaters but Honda said they are creating a new niche for the BR-V which is an affordable SUV.

     

    The BR-V is powered by a 1.5L VTEC engine,  a powerplant it shares with the Mobilio and the City, two of Honda’s best sellers  Joining us in the drive was no less than the chief engineer of the BR-V, Atsushi Arisaka, who explained the technical details of the All-New BR-V.   Arisaka said, “The All-New BR-V has exclusive components designed for SUVs, such as revised suspension geometry, enhanced body rigidity, heightened air intake duct position, large tire size, and functional roof rails.”

    I was among the first drivers when we arrived in Cauayan after a one-hour flight from Manila. At first, I had mixed feelings about the BR-V comparing it with other SUVs I have driven before but as soon as we were driving on the roads of Cauayan, Alicia and Santiago City, I was impressed with the new SUV.

    On board the 1.5V Navi CVT, I noticed the difference in height and feel as I had a better view of the road and the surroundings. The handling was also precise, stable and smooth. I drove for 81 kilometers and I was surprised that I could keep pace wiith the lead car, a CR-V which has a bigger engine and driven by veteran race driver and instructor, Georges Ramirez. Georges had plotted the route that also included a drive from Baler to Manila, a close to 300-km distance.

    We had speeds of 80 to 110 kph on the straights and on the hills, we took it 40- 60 kph. Georges also served as our lookout for oncoming traffic, pedestrians and dogs and chickens which suddenly appear on the roads.

    Mine was the longest drive assignment for the three of us in the BR-V who included Ulysses Ang of Philippine Star and Ronald de los Reyes of Auto Review and Business Mirror. But my turn was mild when compared to other driver challenges. Ronald was next but this time on a 59-km mountainous route. I sat at the back while Ronald maneuvered the BR-V on the uphills composed of several sharp corners. But the BR-V continued to respond to the tests with the steadiness and power of an SUV. We also hit some dirt roads and roads that were scattered with rocks and slippery sand but the BR-V stood its ground and there was no drifting on its wheels.

    Uly’s turn for over 60 kms. was a combination of more sharp climbs and the scenic drives on the coasts of Casiguran and Baler Bay. The climbing power of the BR-V was admirable and Uly never had a problem keeping up with the pace set by Georges (Ramirez) in the CR-V.

    The All-New BR-V has a ground clearance of 201mm which we could have tested on two river crossings along the way. But the water had subsided when we reached the sections but the mild flowing waters provided some refreshing splashes on the six-BR-V convoy.

    In Baler, we had further conversations with Arisaka and HCPI’s Sherwin Kuan. They said the BR-V was developed for the ASEAN market  and provides options for customers who want a small but versatile SUV. Sherwin said they had 2,000 reservations since the BR-V was unveiled at the Philippine International Motor Show last September. They have sold 700 units since they started delivery last December.

    In terms of safety, Arisaka said  the BR-V is equipped with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Hill Start Assist (HSA) Driver and Front Passenger Airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, and seatbelts for all passengers.

    At the start, we folded the third-row seats for our baggage but on our second day, we put the third-row seats up for photo ops and I felt we did not have to fold them as our baggage could have fit in the 223 liters of cargo space. The BR-V’s flexible interior offers multiple seat configurations for various passenger and cargo hauling needs.

    Prices for the BR-V start at P989,000 for the 1.5 S CVT and P1.119M for the 1.5 V Navi CVT.  There is no manual variant for the BR-V. It’s not every day that we need a 7-seater SUV but on weekends or during family trips,  Honda’s BR-V also stands for versatility.

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