I usually don’t drive our long-term cars; it’s like having to babysit for your boss. Every time you drive it, you pray that no biker squeezes in into the gaps or that the kids in your building don’t use it as a goal post. This time, however, I succumbed to the convenience of using one. Taking the bus is cheap and hassle-free, but there is no timetable to speak of and they are packed to the brim.
So, looking at our key box, I realised no one was using the BR-V. Strange! The BR-V is an SUV and aren’t these cars in demand during the rains? But our BR-V is a petrol and, to make it worse, an automatic. This could translate to only one thing – appalling fuel economy.
But having done fuel efficiency tests for almost two years now, I figured I could easily juice out a bit more than the others and, secondly, my daily route to work has scanty traffic, unlike the horrors of the infamous Western Express Highway. The auto gearbox also means rest for my left leg after a long day of testing. So, the BR-V it was.
Now, even though the SUV is big enough to seat seven, it’s manageable in the city and, as I found out, great for a weekend with friends who wanted some scenic monsoon shots to put on their social media accounts. On the expressway, I was greeted by a thick blanket of fog and heavy rain and that’s where I bumped into a problem with the BR-V, the headlights. They just weren’t bright enough. Yes, you do get fog lights as well, but I wasn’t happy with the illumination, perhaps it was too stormy. The wipers do their job all right, and I liked the fact that the rear has one too – many modern hatchbacks and SUVs sadly do away with this.
The ghats revealed the BR-V’s handling manners. Not bad for a seven-seater, I must say. There is that expected body roll – it’s not exactly a sportscar – but the light and direct steering with paddle shifters go a long way to keep the keen driver happy.
Once the fog cleared, it was possible to get to triple-digit speeds, but I sheepishly stayed away despite being coaxed; it is a petrol auto after all. Besides, the CVT whine gets louder with speed. To counter that, I found myself using the paddle shifters more often than usual to shift early and keep the noise down. On the way back, though, I gave in and engaged the Sport mode. The engine is evidently more responsive; you could easily do high speeds as the car is quite stable and composed. It’s just that the whine gets louder and audible even in the third row. Speaking of which, the third row was comfortable enough to hold a couple of my average-size friends. Actually, seating all around is comfy as the seats are soft and well-cushioned; the legroom and headroom in all rows is good too. The ride is also quite pliant and there is little body movement at speeds as well.
Features though are a major disappointment. For a Rs 10 lakh-plus car, you get no touchscreen infotainment, no driver armrest, no auto-down power windows, the audio system feels like it’s from 10 years ago, and even though you get Bluetooth connectivity, pairing your phone to it is quite a task. Also, the last thing you would cut out from a car this size is a rear-view camera and parking sensors, but Honda has done just that.
As a result, with the added worry of the boss checking for scratches, I struggled and embarrassed myself quite a few times trying to park the car. This was a good reality check; we are so used to technology and electronic assists that the basics of driving and that good ol’ car judgement are now lost. I believe a month more of driving the BR-V and I will be good in doing away with all the fancy parking gadgets; if I’m able to hold on to the keys, that is.