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Honda BR-V -- Space Ace

Snapshot: An all-new rival to the Hyundai Creta and Ford Ecosport will arrive from Honda by April 2016. We drive it briefly in Japan.

Honda is all-set to enter the competitive compact crossover segment in India. The company will bring in the all-new BR-V into this space. The big advantage that this car has over its main rivals is the fact that it can seat seven instead of five seats that rivals offer. We managed to spend about an hour with the car and here is what we think.

Exteriors

At 4456mm in length the BR-V is much longer than the 4270mm length of its main rival, the Creta as well as the Ecosport which at 3999mm is the shortest among these three. The front end of the car is a mix of the Jazz hatchback as well as the Mobilio MPV. The sculpted bumper, the stretched back lamps and the nice chrome grille give it a nice and charming face, which should appeal to buyers. The side profile also looks like a beefier version of the Mobilio. The side profile also allows you to see the 201mm ground clearance of the car.

The rear end with its shapely tail lamps, which are split as well as the high mounted number plate give it plenty of character. This particular example that we drove was an Indonesian spec model and chances are most of the design elements will make it to the Indian version. 

Interiors 

The dashboard is exactly the same one as on the new Jazz as well as City. The dials are exactly the same but the housing for the AC controls and stereo unit is slightly different to the ones we've seen in India. Quality is at par with the Creta but remains to be seen what the India spec model will be like. Seat cushioning is generous and support for the lower back is good in both the front two rows. The Indonesian version comes with an all-black cabin but Honda India management did say that the Indian spec car could get generous addition of beige, since it is considered a premium colour here.

Space in the second row of seats is good as well and occupants will also get their own AC vents in the second row on the higher end versions of the car. It's a genuinely wide car at the back which means that you can house three in comfort over long journeys without any fuss at all. 

The last row of seats is surprisingly decent for space even with a tall adult in them. Though legroom is a compromise, head and shoulder room isn't an issue. So these seats can be used for short city trips by adults. 

Engine, performance and gearbox 

The car will come with Honda's tried and tested 1.5-litre i-VTEC motor from the City sedan. This engine develops 118bhp of power and 145Nm of torque. The car we drove came with a CVT automatic but Honda confirms that they will offer a six-speed manual on both diesel and petrol versions of the car in India.

The best part about this engine is its refinement and the fact that it loves to be revved. It's dead silent and idle and even when revved hard, it doesn't have a harsh tone to it inside the cabin. Power delivery is linear and the engine is very responsive to throttle inputs as well.

The CVT gearbox does suffer from the typical 'rubber band' feeling, which means that when you rev it hard, only the revs mount with an increase in engine noise but little progress is made initially. But the car will get a torque converter to ensure that the driver has some control over the gearbox.

Ride and handling

A smooth tarmac on a test track isn't the best place to test ride and handling so we will reserve our judgement on this for a proper test drive of the car. That said, the handling is good for such a large vehicle. The steering is responsive and offers decent feedback too. There is a hint of body roll but it's well under control for the most part.

Safety and features

The Indonesian spec car came with all the bells and whistles like multiple airbags, climate control, a start/stop button and touch screen panel for the infotainment system among other things. Most of these will make it to the Indian spec car but Honda is still finalising this list.

Summary

If you need a versatile seven seater which offers luxury and a posh image, then the new BR-V could just be the car for you. Is it worth the wait till April-May 2016? Definitely.

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