From the sensible to the sensational.

Office transport: Honda BR-V

WHAT IS IT?

What with SUVs being all the rage these days, Honda redesigned their Mobilio 7-seater SUV to be a faux off-roader. While it may look all rugged, it remains a great car for moving multiple people across cities or between them, economically and comfortably.

WHY THIS?

There aren’t many MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) that are economical to own and that can transport seven people in comfort, and yet that is exactly what many businesses need for staff transport. Add in the legendary Honda reliability as well as the generous levels of safety and comfort equipment, and you’ve got a very compelling package.

OUTSIDE

Honda took their small MPV, the Mobilio, and beefed it up, imbuing it with the style cues of a crossover. The result is far more appealing than the original, but there is no hiding the length of the vehicle – that interior space and practicality has to come from somewhere. The BR-V is recognisable both as a Honda and as brethren to the CR-V and the HR-V, thanks mainly to the family grille on the chunky front end, the silver front skid plate and the integrated roof rails. Even the ground clearance, a significant 210mm, is true SUV-spec, but Honda doesn’t intend for (or expect) the BR-V to venture further from the tar than onto dirt roads.

INSIDE

While the real attraction of the inside of the versatile Honda is the amount of passenger space, the BR-V does offer decent spec levels even in the least expensive Trend model. Standard across the range are a sound system with Bluetooth connectivity, climate control (manual in the Trend, auto in the rest), electric windows all round, ABS braking, dual front airbags and remote keyless entry. In addition to the equipment supplied, Honda used high-quality materials in the cabin to make it feel a touch classier than many competitors, and also to make it hard wearing and long lasting.

THE DRIVE

Honda makes brilliant engines, particularly their small ones, and the 1.5-litre unit that does duty in the BR-V is no exception. Happy to go to high revs for maximum power, it features variable valve technology and is able to produce maximum power of 88kW at a heady 6600rpm, and maximum torque of 145Nm. Around town there is sufficient power for the vehicle to be fairly nippy, although with seven adults on board things do slow down a tad. The six-speed manual gearbox (there is also a CVT automatic option) is precise and entertaining to use, which is a relief as the modest power of the engine does mean you need to change gear more often, particularly when inclines are involved.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the BR-V’s drive is the suspension, which is firm enough to haul a load and yet still plush enough to be comfortable – something that some far more expensive cars don’t manage to accomplish.

FINAL WORD

It’s not often that a business will need an actual SUV, but there are plenty of reasons why a business might need a car that can carry seven employees and it couldn’t but help if the car they chose for this purpose was stylish and, well, cool. There aren’t many seven-seat vehicles out there, and even fewer that can match the value of the Honda BR-V.

GO GET IT

The price of the BR-V Trend is R258 800, while the most expensive BR-V, the Elegance CVT, is R312 100. All models come standard with an excellent 5-year/200 000km warranty, but only the Comfort models and above have a service plan, and even then it’s only good for 2-years/30 000km. See www.honda.co.za for more information.

Senior Management: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI R DSG                                 

WHAT IS IT?

The Golf 2.0 TSI R DSG (normally called the Golf R) is the halo model of the Golf range, out Golf GTi-ing the GTi in terms of performance, but with a more subtle, understated look and feel about it. It is the thinking man’s GTi, the family man’s performance vehicle.

WHY THIS?

Some of us (what am I saying – most of us) love the fun factor of a fast car – that surge of acceleration in any gear, at just about any speed, and the accompanying soundtrack. The car that brilliantly combines this with the practical attributes of a family hatchback is the Golf GTi, but there comes a time when a GTi might feel too flash for you, or be too flash for your company carpark. There’s a chance that it may convey an image that doesn’t quite meet your responsibilities. Enter the Golf R – more powerful, faster and more expensive, but also more subtle and outwardly responsible.

OUTSIDE

The Golf 7 is a sensible family hatchback that is good looking without breaking any moulds. In fact, it’s not even that different from the generations that came before it. Where the GTi uses obvious flashes of red and chrome badging to make it sexier, the Golf R uses subtly changed bumpers featuring LED head and taillights, as well as discreet ‘R’ badges. Then there are carbon fibre optional extras, like side mirrors, to make it stand out a bit. The most obvious changes are the quadruple exhaust pipes and the 19-inch alloy rims. Overall, it is a calm and classy appearance that belies the frenetic performance…

INSIDE

Sophisticated monochrome is how I would describe the cabin of the R. The functional interior features excellent fit and finish, and the materials used exude an air of quality and class. Standard features include a panoramic sunroof and touchscreen infotainment system, heated leather seats, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, cruise control, automatic climate control and more, including six airbags and ABS brakes with stability control.

Golfs have always been practical and the R is no different – it can comfortably seat five adults, it has loads of storage compartments, and the boot is both large and easily accessible.  

THE DRIVE

228kW and 400Nm of torque are channelled through an extremely fast-shifting 7-speed DSG gearbox and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which means that the Golf R can hunker down and accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds. But you don’t need to drive the Golf R fast to appreciate how good it is – it is also a brilliant cruiser on the open road, and can even cope with a relaxed saunter around town, the great wads of torque mean that you don’t have to push the revs up to get moving. The DSG transmission is also fitted with paddle shifters on the steering wheel for manual gear changes, if you want to be even more engaged in the driving experience. The Driving Profile Selection is also standard, and with the flick of a dial you can change the car’s performance characteristics from Normal to Comfort, Sport, Eco or Individual, further adding to the vehicle’s versatility.

FINAL WORD

Can you believe that over 350 000 VW Golfs have been sold in South Africa since they were first introduced four decades ago? That shows how enduring their popularity is, and no wonder – the Golf is always one of the very best cars in its class. The Golf R is this and much, much more, with scintillating, composed performance that flies below the radar.

GO GET IT

The Golf R should have more ‘R’s’ in its name because there are enough of them in the price tag. The basic price is R676 00, but when you add a few of the available options the price can teeter over the R800 000 mark! The Golf R comes standard with a 5-year/90 000km service plan, 3-year/120 000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. The service interval is 15 000km. Visit www.vw.co.za for more information.

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