Grand i10 owner test drives a used Honda BR-V CVT: Impressions

This thing is bloody brilliant as a used buy. It really doesn't appeal to the heart. It bowls the head over and the heart eventually starts developing feelings for the car.

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A Short TD of the BRV CVT by a Grand i10 Owner

"It's up there," said the Spinny salesman as he pointed at something above the second and third row. "Huh?" the confusion on my face must have been painfully obvious.

Background: I now have one toddler, one dog, one cat, one wife and one Grand-i10 (the facelifted one, petrol MT with the touchscreen, etc.). Typically the baby is in the car seat and the wife sits next to the baby. Leaving about 6 inches for a dog that is tall, long, bony and refuses to sit on the floor or the front seat which is unsafe anyway. While this works for short drives around my area, as time passes the dog moves his rear legs above my rear seat and his behind into my wife's lap which I am told is disconcerting. The cat does what she wants like any other of her species. The boot space which served us just fine pre-baby is now woefully short. We have to choose between the large suitcase, cat litter tray, or the jhola which carries my one set of spare clothes (which is all I can pack in the time and space left after getting stuff ready for the other three dependents- my wife is a modern lady and is independent, FYI.) There is no permutation/combination in the world that can ensure a proper family trip that doesn't involve leaving either me or the samaan behind. This has to change we thought. My wife deferred to me for choosing a used car that would not break the already delicately balanced bank account and serve our needs. I thought a car that complements my MT Grand i10 should ideally give an alternative to the major cons of that car:

  1. Seat more than 4 (duh)
  2. An automatic would be nice to have
  3. Ground clearance, ground clearance, ground clearance
  4. Speed-sensing auto door locks. I could write an essay on whoever was responsible for omitting this feature on my car. For now, all I will say is your village is probably missing its idiot.

The newcomer also had to live up to:

  1. The smoothness of the Kappa engine
  2. The superlative combination of the slick gearbox mated perfectly to the engine
  3. Fit and finish. At 63k the 2017 car looks as fresh as ever
  4. Apple Car Play has spoiled me. Either the new car should have it or should be in a price range where I have the financial leeway to spend on a touchscreen display.

The choices or lack thereof:

Now if you think about it there are so very few options where you can have three rows occupied with a proper boot left over. The XUV500 would involve a roof rail and an Amazon basics bag because the boot wouldn't even fit my cat. The Hexa, well let me just say the recent long-term reports have put the fear of God in me. Even with a budget increased to 12 lakhs or so I would end up with a car that has run at least 60k. Plus, keeping track of features dropped and reintroduced and wondering how to tell if the gasket is about to start leaking, yada-yada. No time or money for this. The Tribe I am not interested in the because of 3 cylinders and because of Renault. The Ertiga gives neither the presence of the XUV, the boot space of the Hexa nor the practicality of the Triber. Plus not automatically worth its name.

My first choice naturally went to the king of the segment, the Innova. I started browsing knowing fully well that the Crysta was way above budget. The next best option was the 2015 facelift. Sadly, the owners and dealers seem to think that a 156k run car is sparingly used and in "class condition" and if a doctor or a Parsi's bum has graced the front seat then we owe them the invoice value for the car.

This brings us to the hero of this thread, the absolute enigma that is the BRV. A car that is a sphinx-like SUV from the front, a van from the side and a hatchback from the rear. Anyone who doesn't own it seems to have nothing but disdain for it. The owners, however, seem to refuse to part with them because as one Bhpian said in this 86-page long thread...what do we get instead?! Oh, and Smartcat has one. If it's good enough for a man who has mastered the financial universe, surely it should be good enough for someone like me who only understands the Dilbert comics in the Economic Times.

A Short TD of the BR-V CVT by a Grand i10 Owner continued...

"It's up there," said the Spinny salesman as he pointed at something above the second and third row. "Huh?" the confusion on my face must have been painfully obvious. I had asked him where the reverse sensor indicators are, that is to say, how do I know that my neighbour's car parked behind me wasn't closer than I thought it was. So when he pointed behind me I thought that he knew he was dealing with an idiot and was telling me that the rear sensors were behind the car. I would have been offended if I wasn't already so confused. I considered making beep beep sounds and indicating "kidhar" with a hand gesture but that probably wouldn't have helped. So, I slot the gear into R and then kept the left arm behind the passenger seat rest and turned an inflexible torso backwards like a taxi driver from the 90s. And then I saw this device on the roof light up and beep and have some bars. I also saw numbers which made no sense. Then it hit me. Like Arjuna at Draupadi's swayamvar I was supposed to look at the reflection (in the rearview mirror). Say What?! Without much choice, I made a clockwise turn in the opposite direction and like the Dillelahi of Mughal-e-Azam saw this Anarkali do her sheesh mahal dance in the rearview mirror as I gently reversed.

The car

The TD car was a 2016 model with 84k on the odo. Everything fell into place when I sat in the driver's seat. There was absolutely no learning curve here. My biggest concern was whether it would mask the length well and was very happy to note that it does that brilliantly. Reversing even with that weird contraption was easy and judging the length of the car was not difficult at all. The driver's seat has a really long range of travel. During the day I'm 5'9" and when I raised the seat all the way up so I could see the bonnet, the roof was in my line of sight. So there wasn't any way to see the bonnet while driving but then again, it wasn't a problem at any point of time. The paddle shifters have a lovely click and are a joy to use though absolutely unnecessary for 90% of use cases I think. The speakers are absolutely brilliant and it is a crime that they aren't supplemented with a modern touch unit. The front AC chilled very very quickly and with minimal noise while the rear blowers were fine except for the highest setting where I found them too loud.

The ride

I have driven a CVT extensively in the US so was well aware of the dance one needs to do with the right heel and toe. Doing this it was very easy to pick up speed rapidly. I drove over some really bad patches on purpose and the car didn't scrape at all while holding its composure brilliantly. Note that the front tires were new seats and the rear were Goodyears. I have no experience with Ceat except in autorickshaws. The Goodyear co. is my enemy. They came stock on the i10 and were absolutely lousy. Almost ruined the ownership experience. I have sworn to never have a car with this brand ever again. I'm sure with any other decent brand of tires, the drive would be more supple. I drove fast on an empty stretch and braked hard. The car stopped on a dime. No drama.


The rear is where all the magic lies though. Looking at pics online I was worried that the rear would be really claustrophobic and cramped but it did not feel any different from all the other cars I have been in. The greyish roof lining and the massive window area really help. The ideal seating for me would be one adult driving, and an adult in the rear passenger seat with the baby in a child seat adjacent, the dog would be sent to the last row. I have no influence on my cat. This arrangement would work just fine for me in the BRV. I loved how each seat could be reclined, slid and completely folded. However, the motions weren't as smooth (age probably) and the seats were on the heavier side. Plus when the seats are all the way back I found knee room to be very tight. The practicality of this car is absolutely brilliant. The dog has more than enough headroom in the last row. A major plus is how far back the rear window extends. I can always open the rear window and give him some space to stick his nose out occasionally in case he starts drooling or at least let the fresh air blow directly into the extremities of the car. While the third-row seating position is knees up, honestly is there another car where this is not the case? Even with my height, I felt I could sit in there for a few hours at least. Growing up we have always travelled long distances in bumpy Taveras, Safaris and Qualis with side-facing seats so what's with this newfound disdain for a front-facing third row?

The boot was the biggest disappointment. In my head, 220 L was a LOT of space. Sadly most of that is height and not depth. It still can manage two large suitcases side by side I think. I kept my large laptop backpack sideways and even that fit in comfortably. I suspect a roof carrier might be needed though. Plus the space between seats is available for my use case (below the dog and the child seat)


This thing is bloody brilliant as a used buy. It really doesn't appeal to the heart. It bowls the head over and the heart eventually starts developing feelings for the car. It lacks the premium-ness of my Grand i10 which even though was from a segment below feels richer, plusher and more luxurious. The car I drove had some difficulty with the sliding mechanism and the chrome around the start button had already worn off. In contrast, the chrome in the start button, the gear knob, around the ac vents, and the brushed aluminium of the handles in the Grand i10 are as they were on day 1 even after 60k odd kms and 5 years. Both engines are equally good. Not comparing the manual of the Hyundai vs the CVT of the Honda since that wouldn't be a fair comparison although both are mated well to their engines. The shape of the BRV doesn't bother me because if I'm inside the car what does it matter? The practicality is outstanding. Mechanically it gets most things right: legendary engine, smooth gearbox, projectors, paddles, lovely speakers, and comfy seats. None of these can be added on later. Since it was a sales dud availability is not that great. On the plus side, the prices are very reasonable. My friends who work at a Honda dealership have only good things to say about this car. The particular car I drove was however overpriced even by Spinny standards (7.69L). Spinny had a 2017 model with only 20k odd kms for just 50k INR. For now, I am waiting and watching. As soon as a good one comes up in the 6-7L range I hope to snag it.

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