February 28th, 2015: Honda’s seven seater MPV, the Mobilio was initially produced between 2001 and 2008 in Japan. It had a blocky and compact van like profile. The 1.5 litre VTEC engine powering it was designed for both power and fuel economy. Japan’s Ministry of Transport also recognised this MPV as an “excellent low emissions” vehicle.
In May 2008, Freed (based on Jazz/Fit platform) replaced Mobilio. It went on to the markets in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. But the Mobilio made a comeback in its second generation in 2014. After hitting Indonesian market early in the year, it came to Honda’s Indian showrooms in 23 July 2014.
The new Mobilio looks very different from its first generation predecessor that was marketed in Japan. Honda has replaced the boxy dimensions of the older car with sleeker and more fluidic profile. It competes primarily with Maruti Ertiga but also with likes of Chevrolet Enjoy, Nissan Evalia and Toyota Innova.
Honda’s MPV has arrived with both diesel and petrol version. The 1.5 litre petrol mill churns 117 bhp at 6600 rpm and 145 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. In case of 1.5 litre diesel engine, the specs are 99 bhp at 3600 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm.
Maruti’s Swift (hatch), Dzire (sedan) and Ertiga (MPV) all share the same platform. Honda has adopted the same strategy and so the Mobilio’s underpinnings are shared with siblings Brio and Amaze. Mobilio will be produced at Honda’s Greater Noida plant facility in India.
The hints of Brio and Amaze in external design are evident. But Honda’s team has slightly modified the chin and the thick, single bar of chrome across the front grille also gives it a tad different identity. The fog lamps are the same as in Amaze but they have modified housing. Upswept creases on the doors are also inherited from its sedan sibling. Observe carefully and you will see a unique bend in the rear window line.
Mobilio has a wheelbase of 2652 mm which is 247 mm longer than Amaze. It gets 185/65 R15 tyres with taller side walls.
The styling at the rear is pleasant. Wrap around tail lamps are big and have a nice design that looks better than the headlamps on front. Black inserts and reflector strips on bumper succeed in breaking its mass so this is an admirable aspect of design.
The styling is edgy as compared to the cleaner Ertiga. Also, the Mobilio is longer but shorter than Maruti’s MPV.
How is the cabin designed and equipped? The good thing is that there is plenty of space – the aspect that is primarily considered by MPV buyers. But the Brio/Amaze like dashboard and centre console look rather banal. Honda tried to upgrade it with faux wooden finish around the instrument panel and touchscreen infotainment screen but it may not impress all buyers. Dials on the instrument panel stay illuminated during the day and there is blue backlight for Mobilio’s meters. The always-on illumination sometimes causes glare at noon time.
Mobilio’s black and beige interior feels classy although keeping the light coloured floor mats clean can be little cumbersome. Three-spoke, multi functional steering wheel is good to hold.
The 2-DIN touchscreen audio system does not have a CD player so your music sources are the FM radio, and ports to connect your USB and Aux devices. Leather seats are somewhat hard in comparison to Ertiga and they feel more comfortable with fabric upholstery. But the good thing is that there is ample legroom at front and rear because of the slim seats. Ingress to the third row of seats is also convenient. A centre armrest is provided on the 60:40 middle bench seat.
AC vents are placed appropriately and the ones at back throw air up to the last row. Mobilio’s boot has 223 litres of volume with all the seats in place. The third row can be easily folded with pull of a strap behind and this enlarges the luggage cove to 521 litres.
Honda has launched Mobilio in three petrol (E, S, V) versions. These are priced between Rs 6.49 and 8.76 lakhs. The diesel car has 4 versions (E, S, V, RS) that cost between Rs 7.89 lakhs and 10.86 lakhs (all prices ex showroom price Delhi). The ‘diesel only’ RS variant comes with additional features such as LED optimised projector headlamps, chrome garnishing and tail gate spoiler.
While it is more expensive than chief competitor Ertiga, the spaciousness of cabin including a larger boot make Mobilio a strong contender. This is because a good number of buyers use MPVs as commercial vehicles. In terms of performance, it has been appreciated for ride quality and slick gear shifts.