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They're small in stature and big in character, but which of these tough little SUVs is best?

Whether you see them as a genuine lifestyle companion or a marketing contrivance, SUVs and crossovers have become the automotive equivalent of a Swiss Army knife, dealing with everything from round-town duties to the school run, motorways and even, on occasion, straying onto dirt roads in search of adventure. Therefore, it’s understandable that the entrance of a new model into the hotly contested segment for small SUVs/crossovers is met with a ripple of excitement, growing to a veritable groundswell of expectation when said newcomer wears the Toyota badge. Forming the entry point to Toyota’s lifestyle stable, the Rush faces stiff competition from both established players in the field, as well as upstarts from Chinese firms such as Haval.

The crew

In essence, the gathered cars can be split into two categories: those based on MPVs from their respective stables; and those with car-based underpinnings. Falling into the former bracket are the Rush and BR-V. The Rush can trace much of its mechanical lineage to Toyota’s basic but venerable Avanza MPV, while Honda’s BR-V is essentially a rebodied and mildly reworked version of the now-departed Mobilio and has become the sole seven-seater in the firm’s local line-up.

Spun off the platform underpinning the robust Logan budget sedan, the Duster (which has, of course, since been replaced) treads closer to the small-SUV line than the others, especially when you bear in mind the 4x4 model is a particularly capable off-roader.

As for the H2, its roots are a little harder to trace but it’s one of a host of models based off Haval’s family of unibody chassis and can therefore be linked to any number of sedan and crossover models from the firm’s extensive global line-up.

Why is this relevant? Well, each family counters the others’ particular strengths and weaknesses – from packaging to driveability and everything in between – meaning buyers’ decisions won’t be based on looks alone. Even so, we’d be kidding ourselves if we were to exclude the aesthetic element.

Style vs. space

On paper, the Rush, with its bold nose, bulging bonnet and cross-over cladding, ticks the requisite styling boxes and looks reasonably rugged. Meet it in the metal, though, and there’s no escaping the fact that these elements have been applied to a decidedly Avanza-shaped frame. However, while its bluff sides and tall profile with a strong downward curve to its nose may not scream pseudo-SUV, it does play host to a particularly spacious interior.

In other markets, the Rush – also badged as a Daihatsu Terios – is fitted with a third row of seats but South Africa gets only a five-seat arrangement with a sliding second-row bench, likely in an attempt to keep the newcomer from treading on the seven-seater Avanza’s toes. Losing the rear bench does, however, create a load space which comfortably eclipses those of its rivals, albeit without the added security of a tonneau cover.

The BR-V contains its spacious innards in a frame that, with its two-box profile and roof rails, has a touch more crossover flavour than the Rush but still doesn’t quite manage to hide its dowdy MPV roots. The third row can be rolled away to free up a similar amount of luggage capacity to the Rush, although the boot becomes little more than a sliver of airspace with seven aboard.

Thumbing its nose at the others’ genteel curves and creases, the Duster is unapologetically chunky and utilitarian in its styling, and possessed of a handily proportioned boot.

Looking very much the sophisticate in this company, the H2 is evidence the Chinese have finally realised the correlation between chrome and class isn’t 1:1. Block out the badge and you could just as well be looking at any number of upmarket European small crossovers and, while its boot is the smallest here at 232 litres, it’s still decently proportioned.

Behind the wheel

Climbing into the Rush, you’re immediately aware of the commanding view of the road the seating provides, but that’s about where the benefits of the lofty perch end. With limited rake adjustment for the steering column and the lowest seat-height setting still rather high, taller drivers will find the wheel uncomfortably close to their lap. The chunky propshaft tunnel of this car’s RWD configuration eats into the footwell, leaving little space to rest your clutch foot.

Although hewn from hard plastics and finished with faux stitching, the Rush’s cabin feels well screwed together and the two-tone trim lends some liveliness to the atmosphere. The neat touchscreen infotainment/sat-nav (standard fitment) system sports a crisp interface and sits usefully high on the facia.

The Duster’s infotainment system, although function-rich and with an interface as chunky as the exterior, sits way down by the driver’s knee and forms part of a cabin that’s well enough constructed but marred slightly by the scatter-gun layout of some ancillaries. Thankfully, the driving position is a touch more natural than the Rush’s, if not quite as commanding.

With their closely set gearing and snappy (albeit in the Duster’s case, slightly rubbery) gearshifts, these two prove suitably brisk and wieldy round town but things begin to go awry when motorways beckon. That close gearing sees the Rush’s rev-happy 1,5-litre engine climb to about 4 000 r/min when travelling at the national limit, with intrusive differential whine accompanying the thrashy soundtrack.

It’s better at 3 200 r/min on the motorway in the Duster and, with a mite more torque and better NVH suppression, it doesn’t feel as strained as the Toyota’s frenetic-but-seemingly unburstable 2NR-VE engine. The consensus among the team is both of these cars would benefit from a tall sixth gear to make motorway driving less of a droning affair.

Although it’s only 11 kW up on the Rush and Duster, the BR-V’s 1,5-litre unit manages to be both free revving and acceptably refined. It’s also coupled with a pleasingly snappy gearbox and easily modulated clutch, making it a breeze to pilot.

Another Honda-ism is the interior, which is awash with hard plastics but ergonomically well considered and solidly put together. While it does feel durable, though, the BR-V has a certain light, slightly hollow overall feel to it, sitting at odds with its otherwise bulletproof build.


The H2’s turbocharged 1,5-litre inline-four is comfortably more powerful than its rivals’ naturally aspirated units and even bests them when it comes to refinement. This is especially apt, as the Chinese car’s cabin leaves the others’ interiors in the shade. Slush-moulded trim panels, quality switchgear and a design that’s both ergonomically sound and solidly constructed make the H2 feel a cut above the rest in its segment.

Unfortunately, the H2’s drivetrain is a chink in its otherwise polished suit of armour. The engine behaves a bit like an old-school turbo unit, wading through palpable lag before delivering the goods at higher revs. Lifting off the throttle sees it quickly drop out of the power band. Factor in a notchy gearshift that cannot be hurried and the result is sometimes laborious progress to the meat of the performance on offer, often necessitating extra revs to keep momentum going. The heavy 1,52-tonne H2’s 13,50-second 0-100 km/h sprint is the slowest in this company, while it (literally) lags anything from four to six seconds behind the others when overtaking from 60-80 km/h in top gear. With the turbo finally turning, the H2’s top-gear 100-120 km/h time sees it claw back some respectability, being the second-quickest.

The Rush’s ride, although sometimes choppy, doesn’t succumb to ungainly rebound and manages to iron out most obstructions in its path. It’s in the driving experience where echoes of the related Avanza begin to emerge. With its narrow track, long wheelbase and a profile that presents a good deal of sheetmetal, the Rush has a top-heavy feel to its demeanour. Brisk cornering unearths significant body lean, while a profile that presents a good deal of metal to crosswinds can make it feel a bit unstable when caught in a gust.

In fact, with its 220 mm of ground clearance, stability control (the only car here so equipped) and mechanical robustness, the Rush seems better suited to a leisurely pace on dirt roads. It’s only when the Duster makes an appearance that the Rush has to concede some rough ground. Although marginally down on ground clearance, the Duster’s impressive axle articulation and suspension is adept at taming rutted surfaces and tarmac, and make it a versatile go-almost-anywhere vehicle. Although its steering feels slower geared than the Rush’s, it’s nonetheless pointier and the additional weight lends the Duster a more substantial feel.

Although its 210 mm of ground clearance matches the Renault’s, the BR-V doesn’t have quite its dirt road-taming ability. That’s not to say it’s averse to straying off the tarmac but its real talents lie with its well-balanced on-road persona. The steering is typically Honda, being accurate and pleasantly weighted, if not feelsome, and the ride and body control are resolved to the extent of being more hatch-like-wieldy than its rivals here.
Long-term test (Introduction): Honda BR-V 1,5 Elegance CVT









If, like me, you’re in your late 30s, the cars available back in the day which could carry more than five people were mostly limited to minibuses such as VW’s Kombi. That has now changed significantly. On the affordable side of the scale, Honda’s BR-V is right up there with cars such as the Suzuki Ertiga and Toyota’s Avanza in providing space for seven occupants.

Setting the Honda apart from those rivals is crossover styling that fits in somewhere between that of an MPV and an SUV. That has its benefits. Climb inside and there is generous space in the driver’s seat and in the second row. Small adults can fit in the third row of seats (offering two separate pews), but ideally these chairs are perfect for children and they even offer access to cupholders.









Although I’ll be up front in this car for the next three months, the air-conditioning vents situated in the roof to keep the second and third row of occupants cool rank as one of the car’s best features. Also, while the BR-V has a mere two airbags, it is fitted with a full-size spare wheel.









Under the bonnet is the 1,5-litre petrol engine which also does duty in the Ballade, HR-V and Jazz. It produces a modest 88 kW and 145 N.m. Connected to a CVT (continuous variable transmission), more drivetrain noise infiltrates the cabin than the HR-V we recently ran in the fleet. This is partly due to the fact that I occasionally need to work the engine harder to maintain an ideal cruising speed. Even so, with a conscious right foot, I’ve managed to keep the fuel consumption to a respectable 7,43 L/100 km.

I’ve picked up on a few cabin quirks. There is no back lighting for the gearlever position (P, R N, D) or for the buttons controlling the windows and mirrors. It’s not the end of the world but it takes some getting used to every time you drive the BR-V at night and need to make adjustments.









Practicality is the BR-V’s trump card. Apart from generous luggage space (192-440/1 344 litres as tested), the third row of seats can fold flat and forward, which opens up the boot to large objects.

We’ve been outspoken about some of Honda’s infotainment systems and this one also takes some time to master. With a limited number of buttons, you need to figure out which control changes which setting. Curiously, the ven- tilation system’s screen is larger than the infotainment’s item.

Being a crossover, I definitely plan to do some modest gravel- road driving in the near future to see whether the excellent on-tar ride remains.

After 1 month
Current Mileage: 
 703 km
Average fuel consumption: 7,43
 L/100 km
We like: 
space; practicality
We don’t like: 
design of infotainment system




 



Long-term test (Update 1): Honda BR-V 1,5 Elegance CVT












Besides accessing the third row of seats, I haven’t needed to completely stow the BR-V’s second row of chairs. I recently purchased two used lounge chairs online and was able to fit both after folding the second row and playing a few minutes of Tetris.

With my new cellphone now connected to the Bluetooth system (you need to hold down the phone button to connect), I can make and receive calls and stream audio effortlessly.

Thankfully, fuel consumption appears to remain constant across a variety of driving environments.






After 2 months
Current Mileage: 
 2 006 km
Average fuel consumption: 7,21
 L/100 km



Long-term test (Wrap-up): Honda BR-V 1,5 Elegance CVT



 




Even if you don’t require a seven-seat passenger vehicle, the option of seating more people is a great one to have. And, sometimes, just having the extra space when the seats are stowed is welcome. Over the past three months, I’ve never had to use the BR-V’s third row. Thanks to the space needed to make room for extra seats, though, I was able to transport large objects including two lounge chairs. Both the second and third rows fold flat and tilt forward, which creates an abundance of air behind the front passengers. 

It’s tricky trying to place the BR-V in a specific box. It’s not a traditional SUV, nor does it look like a crossover. It has more in common with a traditional MPV (which makes sense considering it replaced the Mobilio). However, the ground clearance of 210 mm was enough for me to venture off- road onto pockmarked gravel. The full-size spare wheel also lends peace of mind. 

From behind the wheel, the cabin is straightforward: basic but solid materials are used throughout and it has some welcome features such as an entry-level infotainment setup with Bluetooth and steering wheel-mounted controls. My Android phone seamlessly connected to the system and allowed for perfect audio streaming and making phone calls.


There is a curious lack of extensive interior lighting in the cabin. The door-sited controls for the mirror adjustments and electric windows, plus the gearlever indicator (P, R, N, D, S) aren’t illuminated. It’s a minor inconvenience after dark. Much better are the secondary air-conditioning controls and vents in the roof for aft-seated passengers. 

On the highway, I generally stuck to 100 km/h, as noise intrusion is elevated above this point and can drown out the audio system. The benefit of driving at this speed was that my average fuel consumption settled at a respectable 7,21 L/ 100 km over the course of three months. The best tank-to-tank consumption I achieved was 6,95 L/100 km. 

The CVT is a well-calibrated transmission when you drive at a constant speed. It’s only when you are in a rush and want to overtake quickly that an associated whine becomes intrusive. Although there are small steering-wheel paddles, I rarely used these as my pace of driving was sedate most of the time and the 88 kW/145 N.m 1,5-litre engine has just enough punch to pick up speed briskly. 

TEST SUMMARY 

The seat layout is probably the BR-V’s best feature (aside from Honda’s stellar reliability record). It is clear the Japanese carmaker’s intention with its family wagon is to offer solid transport at a reasonable price, with a relatively generous supply of standard equipment (although nothing superfluous). The faux- leather-trimmed seats are easy to clean and the generous door pockets and storage spaces below the dashboard add greatly to overall daily-use practicality. 

Overall, the BR-V throws up few surprises and should be a satisfying family car, especially over an extended ownership period where it should give few – if any – headaches. 

 




After 3 months
Current Mileage: 
 
3 643 km
Average fuel consumption:
7,21 L/100 km
We like: 
seven seat capability; frugal engine; space



 








Latest Resutls for Honda BR-V

STARTING FROM 269900

Full Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 7
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 2
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front
  • Central locking: keyless
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Frontfog lamps lights: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 677 km
  • Driven wheels: front
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: V
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: CVT
  • Gear shift paddles: Standard
  • Front tyres: 195/60 R16
  • Reartyres: 195/60 R16
  • Spare wheel size full: Standard
  • Length: 4456 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1735 mm
  • Height: 1666 mm
  • Wheel base: 2655 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 210 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 10.6 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 223-691-1164 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 1164 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1212 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1790 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 0
  • Towing capacity - braked: 0
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 42l
  • Fuel consumption average: 6.2 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 148g/km
  • Power maximum: 88 kW
  • Power maximum total: 88 kW
  • Power peak revs: 6600 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 72.6 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 145 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 4600 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 145 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 119.6 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: n/as
  • Maximum top speed: n/a km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1497 cc
  • Engine size: 1.5l
  • enginedetailshort: 1.5
  • Engine + detail: 1.5
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 5
  • Warranty distance (km): 200000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 2
  • Service plan time (distance): 30000 km
  • Roadside assistance time: 3
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Brand: Honda
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 25073340
  • MMVariant: BR-V 1.5 ELEGANCE CVT
  • MMintrodat: 2016-09-01
  • Introdate: 2016-10-10
  • DuoportarecordID: HondBR-V1e5

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Honda BR-V 1.5 Elegance auto for sale in Sandton from one of Carmag.co.za's apporoved car dealerships
New BR-V 1.5 Elegance auto availbale from the following auto dealer:
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