This is the Mobilio, Honda's first MPV for India and the third car to be built on the Brio platform. When launched in mid-2014, it will go head on against the Maruti Ertiga
which, until now, hasn’t had a real rival. Since its launch, the Ertiga has enjoyed a favourable response and we reckon Honda’s first MPV in India will not go unnoticed. The Mobilio was recently unveiled in Indonesia and while we’ve earlier reported about the car’s mechanicals, we’ve now spent some time with the car in Japan to get up close to this all-new MPV.
To save costs, the Mobilio is similar to the Honda Brio
and Amaze when viewed from the front as all three siblings share body panels all the way to the B-pillar. There are a few tweaks like a wider grille and sportier chin but when viewed head-on, you could mistake it for either the Brio or the Amaze.
Move to the side and you can see that Honda has resorted to some clever illusions to mask the car’s elongated and van-like proportions. There’s a kink in the window line and two upward moving cuts along the side of the body that act as a sort of guide for your eyes to follow. Then there are the flared wheel-arches and even a ‘floating’ design for the rear pillar of the car, the latter achieved using part sheet-metal and part blacked-out glass. The Mobilio gets larger 15-inch wheels, which fill out the wheel arches and give the Mobilio a good stance. Move over to the rear and this Honda MPV shows you probably its best angle. The wraparound look of the rear windscreen, the flared haunches, big tail-lights and an attractive split at the bottom makes it look a lot more dynamic and youthful than the Ertiga’s rather reserved rear. Continued..
So, while the styling is pretty decent, how does it fare in terms of practicality? Honda has used its packaging expertise to make this MPV fairly spacious. The extra space comes from the fact that the Mobilio’s 2650mm wheelbase is a good 245mm longer than even the Amaze’s, which itself has a wheelbase that’s 60mm longer than the Brio’s. As expected, the cabin employs the same dash as the Brio and the Amaze, which again does look a tad too basic for a car at this price point. However, this car was a prototype and the production car is expected to get a few changes in the cabin to make it look more upmarket. This prototype’s interiors had an all-black dashboard with beige seats and door trim.
Just like the Brio and Amaze, the front seats had a fixed headrest and this may come across as a bit low-rent to consumers if it’s carried forward to the production model. Move to the second row and you’ll appreciate Honda’s ability to liberate space from smaller cabins. Remember that, despite its increased legroom over the Amaze, the Mobilio still falls short of the Ertiga’s wheelbase by a good 100mm. Just like the Ertiga, the Mobilio also offers sliding second row seats and the reasonably long rails result in great flexibility in attaining the desired legroom. However, it really doesn’t feel like this Honda MPV has a 100mm wheelbase deficit over the Ertiga and more than matches the Maruti for passenger space. Then, there’s also a roof-mounted air-conditioning vent to cool the second and third rows and although we couldn’t test its effectiveness, aesthetically, the slightly crudely finished air-flow selector and the overall vent design does look like it’s built to a cost. Continued..
Now, what about the last row? With the middle row left in its centre position, there’s adequate room for your knees to move about a bit with a clearance of about half an inch. However, when the middle row seats were pushed back all-the-way, your knees will feel tightly jammed against the backrest of the 60:40 split middle seat. Overall, we'd say that with a slight compromise, the Mobilio can genuinely carry seven passengers in decent comfort.
As for the boot, even with the third row seats upright, it’s quite spacious and can easily hold a suitcase and a couple of soft bags. At first glance, it does look a tad bit more capacious than the Ertiga’s boot but we’ll be able to confirm that only after a proper road test.
While we were able to assess the car both inside and out, unfortunately, we weren’t able to drive it and shall reserve a driving opinion for later. However, the Mobilio is powered by the same 1.5-litre i-DTEC engine as seen on the Amaze and will offer superior driveability when compared to the Ertiga diesel. The petrol-engined Mobilio is powered by Honda’s 1.5-litre i-VTEC motor and that again has a power advantage over the Ertiga’s 1.4-litre K14 engine. Continued..
When the Mobilio is launched in India, it is expected to be priced at around Rs 30,000 more than the equivalent Ertiga. At the moment, the Ertiga lacks any real competitors and averages a decent 4,700 units a month. With the launch of the Mobilio, Honda will gain access to this niche market and may just help itself to a generous helping of the pie.