By: Jason Woosey

Johannesburg - Honda has unleashed a new entry-level crossover in South Africa. Slotting below the HR-V, and priced between R238 900 and R288 300, the BR-V undercuts popular compact crossovers such as the Ford EcoSport (R247 900 - R302 900) and Renault Captur (R249 900 - R304 900).

It started life as a Brio

The BR-V shares its platform with the Brio hatchback, but has been stretched and moulded into the form of an SUV, gaining 843mm in length and 310mm in wheelbase over its hatch sibling.

Though it's not likely to win any beauty contests, it will seek to lure buyers on value and practicality, given that - unlike its rivals - the BR-V offers seating for seven. For easy access and load variability, the second and third seat rows are split and have a fold-and-tumble mechanism. Luggage space is limited to 223 litres when all seats are in place, but folding the back row will liberate 691 litres, according to Honda.

There are no surprises in the powertrain department, with the front wheels of all models driven by Honda's normally aspirated 1.5-litre single-overhead-cam i-VTEC petrol engine, rated at 88kW and 145Nm. This can be mated to either a six-speed manual or continuously variable CVT gearbox, the latter featuring flappy paddles that allow you to shift between 'virtual' ratios.

Three trim grades are available

Trend: This is the most affordable option and features air conditioning, electric windows, remote central locking, a four-speaker audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, dual front airbags and ABS brakes. After-sales back-up comes in the form of a five-year / 200 000km warranty.

Comfort: Adds automatic climate control with rear aircon ventilation, height-adjustable driver's seat, sliding second-row seats, electric mirrors, alarm system, 16-inch alloy wheels and a two-year / 30 000km service plan.

Elegance: Adds chrome door handles, fog lights, leather-upholstered seats and steering wheel and keyless (push-button) start.

Honda BR-V prices:

1.5 Trend Manual - 88kW/145Nm - R238 900

1.5 Comfort Manual - 88kW/145Nm - R252 900

1.5 Comfort CVT - 88kW/145Nm - R268 300

1.5 Elegance Manual - 88kW/145Nm - R272 900

1.5 Elegance CVT - 88kW/145Nm - R288 300

The Crossover alternatives, if five seats will do:

Ford EcoSport 1.5 Ambiente - 82kW/138Nm - R247 900

Mazda CX-3 2.0 Active - 115kW/204Nm - R277 800

Nissan Juke 1.2T Acenta - 85kW/190Nm - R288 900

Peugeot 2008 1.6 Active - 88kW/160Nm - R274 900

Renault Captur 0.9T Expression - 66kW/135Nm - R249 900

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL - 86kW/151Nm - R261 900

For a lot less you could have a seven-seat mini-MPV:

Honda Mobilio 1.5 Comfort - 88kW/145Nm - R229 100

Suzuki Ertiga 1.5 GL - 70kW/130Nm - R215 900

Toyota Avanza 1.5 SX - 77kW/137Nm - R238 700

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