The multi-utility vehicle (MUV) market did not have too many players till recently. There was Toyota with its Innova at the slightly upper end, whilst the lower ranks were catered to by Maruti’s Ertiga, a very competent, if somewhat sterile vehicle. It is in this segment that Honda has now entered in great expectation with its popular contender the Mobilio. Many people might be led to think that these two competitors would be quite similar, but in reality they are as apart as chalk and cheese. Let’s take a closer look at what sets them apart.
The Ertiga was launched a few years back and shows its age here. The straight lines culminating in a previous generation Swift headlamps and small tail lamps look somewhat dated, though it cannot be argued that the Ertiga has very clean lines and the body looks smart in a utilitarian way. Interestingly, the length of the Ertiga is 121mm shorter than the Mobilio, though its wheelbase at 2740mm is longer than that of the Mobilio by 88mm – a significant amount of space inside. Other than that, the Ertiga looks the part of a no nonsense vehicle, in complete contrast to the Mobilio, which being a fresh design looks very upmarket and its beltline sloping upwards.
Other interesting design bits include a kink in the rear doors of the Mobilio, and the blacked out ‘C’ pillar, which gives a floating look to the rear windows. The front bit of the Mobilio looks exactly the same as the Amaze which looks exactly the same as the Brio which…err, this is just to emphasise the family look – if you have seen one, you have seen ‘em all! The rear of the Mobilio is quite interesting with large rear combination lamps and reflectors mounted on a mesh in the lower bumper. The rear hatch swings far and wide, and like the Ertiga, offer ample room; though with the third row up, not much space is left for luggage in either vehicle. Another notable feature in the Mobilio is the round clearance, which at 189mm, bests the Suzuki by 4mm – a fact crucial to our country.
Interiors are where most owners spend their time in, and frankly speaking there is not much to choose here as well. Both vehicles are very well made, and although the Mobilio has acres of plastic going around the inside, compared to some cloth for the Ertiga, the Ertiga manages to look very upmarket here.
In terms of overall fit and finish of the interiors as well, the Ertiga seems to edge past the Mobilio, with its tight clearances and plastic feel. In both the vehicles, the front dashboard mirrors their saloon and hatch counterparts, with the same dashboard and instrumentation layout, and the same equipment levels. Both vehicles do not provide second/third row air-conditioning vents in their base models.
The second row seats slide and recline in both cars, as well as the third row. The Ertiga however has a slightly raised rear lip, where you have to load the luggage over. As mentioned earlier, an 88mm difference between the Ertiga and the Mobilio might theoretically make the Ertiga more spacious, but Honda has other clever tricks up its sleeve like scooped out front seats, which offer more knee room, giving a spacious feel. Both vehicles are similarly loaded when it comes to features, although the Mobilio has a few knick-knacks more like power folding outside rear view mirrors. Overall seat comfort in the Ertiga is higher, with better contours and seat cushioning.
Engine and Transmission
In the utility vehicle segment in India, you need a potent diesel engine to survive. Honda has learnt this game well and has designed its own diesel powerplant, which has proved to be a big hit in the Amaze and City sedans.
Yes, it’s noisy, but one cannot argue with its fuel efficiency. Power is a 100ps in the Mobilio, compared to 90 in the Ertiga but both develop exactly 200Nm of torque at 1750 rpm.
Both also have a 1.5-litre and a 1.4-litre petrol engine respectively, but while the Mobilio develops 119ps of engine power and 145Nm of torque, the Ertiga makes do with 95ps of power and a 130Nm of torque. Both come with standard 5-speed transmission sets – it is interesting to note that the Mobilio does not have the 6-speed tranny from the City.
Performance and Handling
Since diesel is where most consumers would be putting their thrust, let us look at performance in this area first. We will start with the new kid on the block, the Mobilio. The Mobilio uses the same 1.5-litre i-Tec engine from the Amaze and the City family, but Honda has extensively reworked the engine to make it quieter, a grouse from many of Honda’s customers.
Fuel pressure in the common rail has been decreased slightly and a host of other measures have been added to make it a little quieter. Fuel efficiency a hallmark of Honda, is at 24.2kmpl, as certified by ARAI making the Mobilio really effective at saving costs.
To drive, the Mobilio diesel feels like any other MUV. Fire her up and the diesel clatter slowly settles as the engine warms up. Performance is acceptable, and though you will not set any land speed records, you will keep up with most traffic and do nice three-digit speeds on the highway.
The Ertiga uses Fiat’s tried and tested 1.3-litre multi-jet engine and this engine has excellent noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics. Start her, and the engine thrum is muted. Acceleration, like the Mobilio is not very brisk but this one will also do there-digit highway speeds with ease, even fully loaded. Noise levels inside are excellent compared to the Mobilio, with only a bit of tyre noise intruding. The gearshift is slightly notchy, but the Ertiga will also return around 20.7kmpl, which is quite decent for its class.
In the petrol engine segment, the 1.4-litre K-series of Ertiga is the smoother engine, with a turbine-like spin to its redline. It may not be very powerful, but one cannot doubt its smoothness and efficiency with a certified fuel efficiency of 16.02kmpl. A CNG version is also available in the Ertiga which does 22.8kmpl. The petrol engine of the Mobilio returns 17.3kmpl, and does not have a diesel version.
Handling of both vehicles is similar, as they both use pretty much the same suspension layouts. Both do not like to be hurried along, but perform fairly well when it comes to riding roughshod over potholes and speed breakers. Both vehicles have a turning radius of 5.2metres, though with 189mm of ground clearance, the Mobilio has a slight edge over the Ertiga’s 185mm.
Both Maruti-Suzuki and Honda take safety very seriously and to this end, both vehicles are equipped with many features like ELR belts, side intrusion beams and collapsible steering columns. Maruti provides anti-lock braking system (ABS) as an option on the mid VXi/VDi models and standard on the ZXi/ZDi models.
Honda goes a step further by making ABS standard on all diesel models. Unfortunately, both manufacturers are lackadaisical in providing airbags, and unfortunately only the top models get them as standard.
An immobiliser is standard on all versions of the Mobilio and the Ertiga, with the Ertiga getting a security system as well on the VXi/VDi models.
There is no doubt that both the Honda Mobilio and the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga both are very competent cars in their own respective areas. While there can be no doubt that the Mobilio’s entry into this segment is like a dose of fresh air, the Ertiga is no pushover. Both competitors are very evenly matched. So while Ertiga’s price starts at Rs. 5.80 lac for the base LXi and go upto Rs. 8.49 lakh for the top of the line ZDi model, the Honda Mobilio starts at Rs. 6.49 lac for the base E model and goes upto Rs. 9.76 lac for the top of the line V diesel model. This makes the Mobilio start at Rs. 69,000 more than the Ertiga. There is even a RS version coming soon, which is basically a kitted out version of the Mobilio, and will be available for Rs. 10.86 lac. All prices being ex-showroom Delhi. You do definitely pay a lot more for a Mobilio compared to the Ertiga, but essentially you are paying for the Honda badge and its superior diesel engine. If you are economy minded, we say go for it. Else, the Ertiga is still not a bad choice – it’s just that a new puppy into the market is favoured more than an old dog…
Honda Mobilio vs Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Road Test Comparison