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Honda Mobilio MPV

Snapshot: The Mobilio is a vehicle, which is eagerly awaited not only by members of the car buying public in India, but Honda themselves.

The Mobilio is a vehicle, which is eagerly awaited not only by members of the car buying public in India, but Honda themselves. The company is pinning a lot of hope on this particular multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) and it is not difficult to see why. There is a huge requirement for a MPV style personal carrier – something bigger than a car but not a SUV. And the space to carry 4-7 people in relative comfort with luggage. That and a lot more is where Honda thinks people will connect with the Mobilio.

Exterior
The Mobilio has the ‘family look,’ so visible with the Brio and Amaze. Generous dashes of chrome on the centre of the front grille is what Honda hopes will give it a premium look. But the front bumpers are quite aggressively styled, and the upper ‘V’ versions get fog-lights built into them. Above it are the smart bug-eyed headlamps, so familiar from the Brio and the Amaze.

The side is quite plain, except for the kink in the rear door – the rear door incidentally is much larger than the Amaze. The rear quarter glass is fixed, but it wraps around in an interesting way around the C-pillar. The rear is styled interestingly too, with a spoiler that gives a sport look to the rear hatch and nicely sculpted tail lamp clusters. The rear bumper is also interesting, with a honeycomb like plastic grille at either end, housing reflectors.

Honda will also introduce another variant of the Mobilio, called the ‘RS’ version. The RS will not be a body-kit stick-on but a proper variant, the key differentiators being aggressively styled front and rear bumpers with even more chrome, and a pronounced rear spoiler.

The front headlamps are sexy with their ‘bi-halogen’ capable projectors and a white LED daytime running light (DRL) strip. All this is complemented by black ‘diamond-cut’ alloys, which give the vehicle a mean look. The RS will be announced at the launch on July 23rd, but will be delivered only 2-3 months later.

Interior
Yes, the dashboard is the same as the Brio and the Amaze. The minor controls are absolutely the same, and the instrument cluster has been given generous doses of blue to distinguish it from its siblings. The steering wheel is also absolutely similar and comes with controls for the audio system. Upper level trims get second row air-conditioning vents mounted on the ceiling, similar to that of the Ertiga.

The whole cabin is a mixture of swathes of black and beige plastic and some fabric on the seats. The middle row has a 60:40 split, with an integrated armrest. The seats have what Honda calls a ‘one-touch tumble’ and can be easily folded by pressing a lever. The 3rd row seats are functional but will not accommodate large people – best used for children upto 15. They can be easily folded away to create more luggage space.

Legroom in the front seats are also adequate, rather than spacious. While most people will find it comfortable, six-footers and above may find the front seat space slightly squeezed. What is however really cool is the entertainment system which the upper trim level Mobilios will come with. Designed and manufactured by Alpine, it has a full navigation system developed jointly with MapmyIndia.

The system also connects to a rear view camera for easier parking and of course features a DVD player, besides the capability to play from USB as well. Dedicated iPod and Aux-in plugs make setup a cinch. Additionally, Bluetooth capabilities mean you can drive handsfree or stream music from your smartphone. Funnily enough, only one charging point does duty in the entire vehicle, though there are plenty of can and bottle holders if you wish to keep sipping your favourite stuff on the drive…

Engine, gearbox & performance
The Mobilio will offer two types of engines – one petrol with 117.5 bhp of power and 145 Nm of torque, and a diesel with 98.6 bhp and 200 Nm of torque. The diesel engines of Honda are known to be frugal and have good performance to boot but noisy. Honda engineers have worked hard on this aspect, and the resultant usage in the Mobilio is quite pleasing.

Less aural than before, the diesel engine noise does not intrude so much into the cabin space any more. If you upshift early, at normal commuting speeds then diesel engine clatter does not protrude, but rev the engine hard and you still get the noise. So the trick is to not spin the engine to it’s redline. The petrol engine performs as expected; it’s quiet, extremely refined and frugal as well. We did not get to check out fuel efficiency figures in this brief pre-launch drive, but Honda claims ARAI certified figures of 26 kmpl for the diesel! This means that even within the city, you should get north of 17 kmpl.

The gearbox is typically Honda – so you get the same slightly notchy but overall smooth feel. Smartly chosen ratios that mean that you make good process as long as you keep the motor spinning between the 1500-3000 rpm range and that is where the action is. An ‘ECO’ indicator keeps lighting up in green when you are doing fine.

Ride & Handling
The Mobilio rides well, and with 189mm ground clearance, it clears speed-breakers with ease. The raised clearance also helps you avoid potholes and bad road patches, so that minimal noise filters into the cabin. Body roll is quite well controlled for a family vehicle and you can take sharp bends with ease, the caveat being that you do not get too excited and carry too much speed into corners. Braking also feels progressive with a good bite and less fade. The standard setup is discs up front and drums rear. Overall, I was quite impressed with the ride and handling of the Mobilio.

Safety & Equipment
The Mobilio is part of Honda’s G-force Control (G-CON) body design, which means that it has been designed to handle the worst of accidents and that makes it a very safe car. It has been designed to withstand severe side-impact accidents as well as front offset crashes. The Mobilio for India will be offered with driver and passenger airbags in the higher models and will also feature anti-lock braking systems (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD). However, there is no option of side airbags.

Competition
This is an interesting section. While most people compare the Mobilio with the Ertiga and the Innova, I personally feel that the Innova is in a separate segment with different pricing so one cannot compare it with the Mobilio. So the main competitors for the Mobilio are the Ertiga and the Chevrolet Enjoy. While the Enjoy is off the radar, it is only the Ertiga, which is a serious competitor – similar engines and interior space, but then it is not as competent or even as stylish as the Mobilio, which trounces the Ertiga in a major way. 

Verdict

There is no doubt that the Mobilio is a stylish and keen offering from Honda which will appeal to a cross-section of people who live in joint families or extended families who need to move around with more people or carry more stuff. The Mobilio is a very stylish people mover, and in the RS version even sexy. Honda has not revealed prices yet, but we expect the Mobilio to be priced between 7-11 lakh. At that point, the Mobilio will be the best vehicle in its segment. ‘Enough said!

Honda Mobilio Review "Test Drive" - Autoportal

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