I hear it all the time from those trusting souls in the market for a new crossover. “You know, I test drove the… (*insert the name of virtually any crossover vehicle here) and I was disappointed at how small it was inside.” Yes, I’m afraid, that’s the irony of the most popular segment. Despite manufacturers selling you the dream of practicality to rival a barn, they can only afford to make simple reskins of existing small-car platforms.
Thankfully, the latest Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance CVT we have on test appears, on paper at least, to be one of the most practical and cost-effective people-carrying crossovers on the market. Beware, sensible buying advice ahead.
HONDA BR-V 1.5 ELEGANCE CVT
Let’s start with the price because everyone is watching their bottom-line these days. The Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance CVT is yours for R469 900, which may sound like a lot compared to a VW Chico, but there are more affordable options with less specification from Honda. The 1.5 Comfort with a manual gearbox retails for R419 900 and, full disclosure, that’s probably the one we’d angle for. But more on that later …
However, even at R470 000 for the top-spec Honda BR-V does offer great value versus other seven-seater equivalents. That’s because the Honda BR-V, once upon a time, used to be the straight-up Mobilio MPV. Yes, one generation ago, back in 2016, Honda decided to jack up the ride height and add some wellies in the form of black-plastic cladding to the wheel arches to give it an SUV look. Gone is the snake-that-swallowed-a-chest-of-drawers appearance.
PSEUDO-SUV STYLE, EASY DRIVE
It’s paid off. The new Honda BR-V is much more pleasing on the eye than the UberXL mobile it replaces. Yet, all the important ingredients are still there. It’s a full seven-seater with Honda’s tried-and-tested 1.5-litre engine, that’s absolutely bulletproof, and actually perky to drive. Drive is sent to the front wheels only. Zero to 100 km/h comes up in just over 10 seconds and the fuel consumption on our real-world test route was in the 7.0 l/100 km range. All par for the course for this practical crossover.
Honda has delivered a decent interior, too. With pseudo leatherette steering wheel and seats, you can adopt a comfortable driving position as soon as you step behind the wheel. The 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay means there’s plenty of convenience on offer for the driver and passengers. This is supplemented on the Elegance model by brilliant auto-adjusting LED lights with attractive DRL signatures. And there’s more. Try reverse camera, blind-spot monitoring (with camera), full climate control and auto wipers. And, our favourite feature at this price, lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control that paces you with the car ahead in traffic. You do get a lot when you purchase a Honda BR-V in Elegance specification.
TRUSTY FAMILY WAGON
For moving a lot of people in a frugal and manageable family wagon, you cannot do any better than this affordable go-getter. Suspension offers a good compromise for passenger comfort. With rails on its roofs, under body skid plates, and ground clearance increased to 207 mm there’s not much it cannot do. The BR-V has grown in size, too. Interior space has increased to offer space for adults in the first and middle rows, though the back pair of seats are still only best suited to children.
The clever shape-shifting cabin offers seat-folding