December really is my favourite month of the year. Not only do I have the opportunity of breaking away to spend some quality time with my family, but I get to choose a vehicle for a “long-haul test drive review”. Last month I was so impressed with the offerings from Imperial Honda on the East Rand, that I decided to make the Honda BR-V my chosen long-haul drive.

The abbreviation BR-V stands for Bold Runabout Vehicle, which in my opinion was a very apt description of what this stylish seven-seater SUV presented as. I was eager to spend some time getting to know the BR-V, and as such, checked in with New Car Sales Manager Dean who provided me with an excellent foundation of knowledge prior to my two-week test drive.

Looking at the BR-V, I found an immediate appeal in the sculpted body with its clean, modern lines and wide grille. The front view of the BR-V gives off a sense of bold confidence and capability, whilst the rear sports an in-line, connected tail-light design that easily distinguishes it from other vehicles. Whilst oozing sophisticated SUV style, the BR-V has a decidedly athletic appeal, with sleek, silver roof rails that underscore its versatility and practicality. Distinctively styled 16-inch alloy wheels also add to the rugged-yet-refined look of this 7-seater, and attention to detail culminates in colour-coded, electrically adjustable exterior mirrors.

Inside the cabin, the BR-V radiates comfort and style with a stunning, high-quality leather interior and finely-detailed finishes. The dashboard is suave and modern, and ergonomically designed in such a way that every control needed is easily within reach and logically laid out. I find that I particularly like the pleasant aesthetics of the horizontally-themed dash and console, as well as the silver accents and piano-black finishes on the instrument panel. Further spiced up with a white-lit 3D speedometer and information display, the BR-V’s console is designed to provide you with all the relevant information you need to drive with ease and confidence.

In the driver’s seat, I find ample leg room and (as a relatively tall woman) more than enough head room too, due to a 30mm longer wheel base than its CR-V relative. With the driver’s seat pushed all the way back, I note that there is still sufficient room for an adult to sit comfortably behind the driver, and still have space between the knees and back of the seat. In the sweltering Johannesburg heat, I am delighted to find rear air-con vents to keep the back two rows of the vehicle cool, thanks to a particularly potent air-conditioner system.

A highlight in the BR-V was the ease of maximising the versatile nature of the car. The second row of seats (which, incidentally, can be reclined for additional comfort) are equally as comfortable as the front seats, and in order to access the third row, a one-touch tumble lever simply flips the seat up with effortless efficiency. Amazingly, the third row of seats also has a reclining option for extra comfort, and still maintains class-leading boot space behind the third row (which is usually lost in other vehicles of this class). With another easy pull of a lever, the third-row seats tumble forward quickly and effectively to enhance boot space even more. I found the versatility and practicality of this design incredible and user-friendly, and marvelled at the space available as I packed my family up for a trip to the coast; packing was a sincere pleasure in this regard.

My hosts at Imperial Honda note that the BR-V is not only designed for versatility and maximum utility, but it is also designed to be a smooth and refined vehicle to drive. Equipped with a 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine, and the option of a six-speed manual gearbox or five-speed auto, the BR-V showed great fuel efficiency, as Simon Edwards, dealer principal at Imperial Honda, assured me: averaging around 6.3 litres to every 100 kilometres all the way down to Kwazulu Natal.

In terms of the actual drive experience, I found the reliable and consistent response of the BR-V to be very comforting on the long road. With 210 mm ground clearance, the BR-V negotiated rougher terrain with ease, and managed to be smooth and reactive in the way it handled as we made our way through a fortnight at the Coast. I sincerely liked the light touch of the BR-V, which did not come across as clumsy or awkward despite its rugged size, and the knowledge that the familiar Honda reliability and build-quality of the car itself – added to dual airbags and ABS braking as part of the safety systems on-board – meant my family and I were safe and secure on the road.

Returning the BR-V after the extended test drive, I spent some more time in reflection with the Imperial Honda team. It is clear that the BR-V fills a very big gap in the market for 7-seaters, as it is one of the most affordable SUV’s available at present. Starting out at a reasonable R260 500 for the manual variant and R276 300 for the auto, the BR-V is the ultimate of style and versatility without compromising on comfort and affordability. Further backed up by the personal, client-centred service offered by Imperial Honda, the BR-V is on top of my list of best buys for its segment.


By Desh Bechan