Updated mini-SUV now comes with some racy appeal. Can it work over the Mitsubishi Xpander?
The Honda BR-V has been on the market for three years, so it time for a nip and tuck for the brand’s budget-priced SUV based on the Mobilio MPV.
Exterior changes include new wheels, head and fog lamps, more chrome on the front grille and shark-fin aerial on the roof.
Upgrades inside the BR-V comprise of smartphone connectivity for both iOS and Android systems and two-tone leather upholstery. It almost looks like an RS model of the BR-V which it isn’t.
There are no mechanical changes in this update which retains the 117hp 1.5-litre petrol engine and CVT automatic of the pre-facelift BR-V. Tested here is the seven-seat version going for 835,000 baht, 15k dearer than ever.
Can this particular BR-V cope with the all-new Mitsubishi Xpander, which also has seven seats, a similarly sized motor but with a circa-50k lower price?
Over the years, Honda has been known for cars with an emphasis on decent-performing engines. This is also applies to the BR-V even if it can’t be described as superb.
Compared to the 105hp Xpander, the BR-V moves around easier thanks to a more responsive and linear performance. And with a near-identical fuel economy rating of 14.5kpl as in the Xpander, the BR-V not only outwits this particular rival but all others in the budget seven-seat segment when it comes to technical things. The BR-V is also the only one to be able to sip on gasohol with ethanol content from E0 to E85.
Chassis-wise, the BR-V does an equally better job in delivering better body control and slightly sharper handling. Together with the engine, the BR-V offers a nicer driving experience than the flappier Xpander.
Although the visual alterations may look minor, they effectively refresh the BR-V’s looks once again. The same goes for the red patches of leather that go in line with the similarly coloured stitching on the steering wheel and gearknob.
Good the leather seats in the BR-V may be on the eyes, but they aren’t as cushy as those in the Xpander. As well, the Xpander has an easier to use seating layout and is more spacious outright inside.
And while the BR-V is good to drive (by standards of such cost-effective seven-seaters), it’s got a harsher ride and noisier cabin under cruising.
On a macro level, the BR-V seems a touch pricey when you consider how it is specced against the Xpander. This comes even in spite of the BR-V having a 10% excise tax advantage for it can take E85 gasohol and emit CO2 below 150g/km. So if roof rails and fender lipstick are a must for you, there’s a premium to pay for the BR-V.
Buy or bye?
It’s quite easy to conclude that the BR-V is not the superior car over the Xpander nor is it the inferior one. Both excel in places each other falter.
While the BR-V scores with better performance and driving manners, the Xpander highlights a more spacious and comfortable cabin, plus good cruising abilities.
Considering the nature of buyers of such vehicles, it’s probably safe to assume that Mitsubishi has a more relevant offering for Thais in general. Couple that with its cheaper price.