Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

NUMEROUS CHANGES mark the mid-cycle refresh of Honda’s compact crossover, the BR-V. Formally launched last week, the updated vehicle was conceptualized by its designers with an “enhanced SUV image” touting a “masculine and premium look with its sleeker design and advanced features.”

This launch helps to highlight a promising year thus far for the Japanese car maker. In a speech, HCPI President and General Manager Noriyuki Takakura revealed that the company was able to post sales growth despite “challenges since 2018” due to “factors such as excise tax, unfavorable foreign currency and inflation.” From January to May this year, HCPI moved 8,660 units — 5,030 vehicles in the passenger car segment and 3,630 units classified as commercial vehicles.

The all-new Honda Brio, launched just last April 23, performed exceedingly well with 610 units already sold. “This translated to a 1,257% increase versus its predecessor year on year. Thank you very much for your contribution to this success,” underscored Mr. Takakura.

Meanwhile, the Honda BR-V, first unveiled locally at the 6th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) in 2016, has already sold more than 14,500 units — earning some industry awards along the way such as the 2017 People’s Choice Award for the Subcompact SUV of the Year and 2017 Best Compact Crossover (Two-Wheel Drive).

“Indeed, the BR-V (has) had good reception in the Philippine market (since) it became the first affordable seven-seater SUV and… Honda’s second best-selling model,” continued the executive. Significantly, the vehicle has been produced in the country since last year. “This also means the BR-V will always be available to our customers with no waiting time.”

Honda designers went for increasing the perceived heft in the BR-V’s exterior through a new chrome front grille paired with a redesigned front bumper, with the rear bumper also being reworked. LED daytime running lights are available for the 1.5 V CVT variant, complementing the standard halogen and fog lights on it and the 1.5 S CVT.

The BR-V also receives newly designed 16-inch alloy wheels and power folding door mirrors with integrated side turn signals. Both variants still get a roof rail, while the 1.5 V CVT is fitted with a shark fin antenna.

At the heart of the infotainment system of the 1.5 S CVT is a seven-inch capacitive touchscreen display, with the 1.5 V CVT getting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on top of that. A reverse camera is now standard on the two variants.

A new leather interior distinguishes the higher-spec 1.5 V CVT, accentuated with red portions on the door panel armrest, and red stickers on the steering wheel and shift knob. A Dark Steel theme rounds out the changes within.

A 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine delivering 120ps at 6,600rpm and 145Nm 4,600rpm still powers both variants. Mated to Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology continuously variable transmission (CVT), the engine “delivers a smooth, refined, and fuel-efficient driving performance,” according to an HCPI release.

The 1.5 V CVT variant comes with smart entry and push start system, and additionally boasts paddle shifters for easier shifts. Honda’s Eco Assist System, which consists of the Econ mode and Eco-Coaching Ambient Light, is also available to encourage conscientious, efficient driving.

The BR-V boasts Honda’s G-force Control (G-Con) collision safety body that “dissipates G-forces in the event of a crash, and disperses it away from the vehicle’s occupants on impact.” Common to both variants are driver and front passenger SRS air bags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), hill start assist, vehicle stability assist (VSA) that restricts sideway skidding during cornering, and speed-sensing auto door lock that activates when the vehicle accelerates. Child seats can be latched on to Isofix anchors. Honda reports that the BR-V received a 5-Star ASEAN NCAP rating in the Adult Occupancy Protection (AOP) category.

The new Honda BR-V is available starting today at all 38 Honda dealerships nationwide. It comes in six colors: Platinum White Pearl (1.5 V CVT only), a new color available for an additional P20,000; Passion Red Pearl (1.5 V CVT only), also a new color; Taffeta White (1.5 S CVT only); Lunar Silver Metallic; Modern Steel Metallic; and Premium Amber Metallic (now also available for 1.5 S CVT).

The 1.5 V CVT variant is priced at P1.155 million; the 1.5 S CVT goes for P1.035 million. For more information, visit any authorized Honda Car dealership today or the official Web site www.hondaphil.com.