BRV-ing the next level

Botchi Santos

Honda pinning its hopes on the All-New BRV for a stronger performance

In this brave new era of motoring, personal mobility has become even more important. Amid rising fuel costs coupled with the further devaluation of the local currency (and almost all other currencies, for that matter) against the dollar, people are in a frantic search for cars with a better value. And as more motorists become savvier, expecting and demanding more from their vehicles, the age of the compact MPV is truly upon us.

The compact 7-seater MPV market currently accounts for 9% of the total passenger car market, but Atty. Louie Soriano, general manager for sales of Honda Cars Philippines, foresees this segment to grow to as high as 20% in the coming years as more Filipinos move up from a small B-segment car to these compact MPVs.

2022 saw many new entrants in this segment: the Hyundai Stargazer made a splash a few weeks prior, and we also saw the revamped Mitsubishi Xpander and its twin, the Nissan Livina launched just a few weeks in between.

Not to be outdone, Honda previewed the all-new second-generation BR-V at the recently-concluded Philippine International Motor Show last September before launching it officially last Monday, November 21, to the general public.

Since its introduction in 2016, the BR-V has sold over 23,000 units to the local market, and for the 2nd generation, Honda expects it to account for half (if not more) of all of Honda’s vehicle sales in 2023, forecasting a moderate but realistic 800-900 units a month, or roughly ~10,000 units annually. According to Misao Abe, assistant vice president for Honda Cars Philippines, the BR-V is targeted to young families, for people who are between 30 and 40 years old, upwardly mobile professionals, as well as full-time home makers who lead very active lifestyles.

The Honda BR-V shares it basic platform with the Brio Amaze, Honda’s smallest sedan, which in itself is a derivative of the sixth generation C-segment Honda City. The power train comes in the form of Honda’s 1.5 later double-overhead cam 16-valve i-VTEC engine code-named L15ZF that boasts of a class-leading 119hp and 145 Newton-Meters of torque. Seems like a tall order for a 7-seat SUV but the continuously-variable transmission is gutsy, responsive, and surprisingly efficient as it (artificially of course) serves up the right gear every time for the right occasion.

Driving purists will be happy to hear that Honda will offer a manual transmission variant in the S variant. Honda expects the manual transmission equipped BR-V (which stars for Brave Runabout Vehicle) to account for roughly 10% of all BR-V’s sold, going mostly to countryside / rural areas where buyers prefer simplicity and cost savings in a very price-sensitive segment.

There will be four variants available, the S-CVT, S in manual trim, the V variant, and the top-spec VX variant which comes with Honda Sensing, Honda’s Active Safety Suite that features Lead Car Departure Notification System, Collision Mitigation Brake System, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation System with Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Auto High-Beam.

Honda Cars Philippines’ president Masahiko Nakamura admitted that making Honda Sensing standard across all variants would increase the price in this price sensitive segment, but if demand is strong, they are open to include Honda Sensing on more, if not all BR-V variants.

All variants thankfully come with dual front and side airbags, speed sensing for locks, a reverse camera, ABS-EBD brakes, vehicle stability control, hill-start assist alarm and immobilizer, emergency stop signal, ISOFIX child seat anchors and DRL’s. S variants get a 4-speaker sound system, while the V and VX variants get a 6-speaker sound system.

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All variants also come with an infotainment system that has Bluetooth Telephony, USB connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from its 7-inch touch-screen LCD infotainment system. Prices start at P1.090 million for the S Manual transmission variant, all the way to P1.39 million for the top-model VX-CVT Honda Sensing variant.

Five colors are available, with Premium Opal White being the exclusive color for the VX CVT and V CVT variants.

Atty. Soriano is confident that given their sales forecast, managing demand with available supply will not be an issue. The compact MPV segment is heating up, the cars are getting better, more stylish and better equipped. I’m looking forward to a proper test-drive of this important vehicle soon.

Exciting times ahead to see which brand comes out on top in this hotly-contested segment!