Honda BR-V drive Japan 2015-48

We now have the first full view of the Honda BR-V, which made its world debut in prototype form at the 2015 Gaikindo Indonesian International Auto Show (GIIAS) back in August. A short closed-loop drive of the car at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan offered the first look at the seven-seater SUV’s interior.

The photos are of what looks to be a Grade E example, albeit still under the guise of a Prototype plate, that was doing static duty at the short presentation of the car. The grade is one of three that will be available for the car when it begins selling in Indonesia next year – badging at the rear alludes to that.

A recap of details initially mentioned during the vehicle’s launch. The BR-V – which is essentially a crossover variation of the Mobilio MPV – measures in at 4,455 mm long, 1,735 mm wide and 1,650 mm tall, with a 2,660 mm-long wheelbase. Other relevant numbers include a 1,500 mm front and rear track, as well as 200+ mm of ground clearance.

Only a single engine choice for the BR-V, and that’s the 1.5 litre SOHC i-VTEC four-banger as seen on the City sedan and Jazz hatchback, with output numbers being 120 PS at 6,600 pm and 145 Nm at 4,600 rpm.

In terms of grade variants, the range’s baseline version is the 1.5L S, which is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. The midline 1.5L E, meanwhile, will be available with manual or CVT options, while the high-spec 1.5L Prestige will only come with a CVT.

All will ride on 16-inch alloys as standard (dressed with 195/60 series tyres), and general equipment across the range includes projector headlamps, fog lamps, powered side mirrors and double blower air-conditioning (with dedicated roof-mounted vents plus controls for the rear cabin). The second-row seats (60:40 split-folding and sliding) get a one-touch tumble feature, while the third row seats are 50:50 fold-down and tip-forward units.

Cabin space appears to be very decent, with the last row fitting 175 cm-tall adults just fine, albeit with the seat base mounted quite low relative to the floor. Two seat back angles are available here. Honda claims the BR-V’s last-row accommodation is the best in its class. All seven seats get three-point safety belts. No vanity mirror lights or rear dome light (there’s only one up front) ate fitted here, though. The boot goes without illumination too.

On the base S, the audio system is made up of a double-DIN head unit, and from the E on the car gets a 6.1-inch display audio monitor. The E also adds on LED position lamps, audio steering switches and a multi-information display, as well as chrome-finished door handles and side protectors.

The Prestige, meanwhile, gets all the E has and adds on VSA, hill-start assist and an aerokit, as well as a nanoe ioniser. Safety equipment across the entire range is made up of dual airbags, ABS and EBD as well as Isofix mounting points. A spare wheel is mounted under the car.

Six exterior colours will be available for the car, with three new shaded being introduced for the SUV (Misty Green Pearl, Passion Red Pearl and Lunar Silver Metallic). The other three colours are Crystal Black Pearl, Taffeta White and Modern Steel Metallic.

First impressions of the car are generally positive – the plastics look decent enough, and space for the rear-most seats isn’t too shabby, though of course with the seats in use cargo space is pretty much nipped. Folded-down, and with the second row tumbled, there’s ample utility room.

Not much to go by from the short drive at Motegi (not on the track itself, mind you), with just two laps on a circular route offering the first dynamic takes of the car, beyond noting that the BR-V handles quite well. It corners quite flatly and tracks well; counterpoint to that is that the level of ride feels a bit on the firm side.

Power would best be described as adequate – the 1.5 litre mill is again willing, but there’s the usual laggy response associated with the CVT when you want to get the car going fast quickly. This is less noticeable at low to intermediate in-gear take-up.

Honda BR-V drive Japan 2015-52

Perception issues may come about, given that potential buyers may look at the correlation between the available zip and the size of the car. Still, the drive was too brief to form any fixed conclusion, so we’ll have to wait to see how it performs in more accurate real-world conditions. There’s no doubting that it drives well though.

The BR-V will be priced between 230 to 265 million rupiah (RM68k to RM78k) depending on variant when it goes on sale in the republic next year; production kicks off in January 2016 at the PT Honda Prospect Motors plant in Karawang.

It was reported earlier that the crossover was set to make its way to Malaysia eventually, and the presentation and drive effectively cements that thought – the question is when exactly.