The Mobilio, Honda’s first 7-seater in India, could not have come at a better time. The Japanese car maker recently became the third largest passenger vehicle maker in the country—a first for it—and on the back of twin successes with the Amaze and the City, it is in the midst of a purple patch, and hopes to take the dream run for the new people mover on the block.
Old wine in a smarter looking bottle
The Mobilio is an MPV developed on the same Amaze/Brio platform similar to the way Ertiga is built on the Swift platform. From the front it stays true to its roots and looks like the Amaze with a slightly higher stance. Tell-tale differences include a broader single slat chrome grille and different placement of fog lamps. The real difference is at the rear: the Mobilio gets smarter broad tail lamps. Like most MPVs the profile looks ungainly from some quarters, but Mobilio is still better looking than the Xylo, Enjoy or even Maruti’s Ertiga.
Uninspiring interior, but best in class space
New Honda cars (barring City) have had mostly indifferent interiors — evident attempts at cost cutting. The Mobilio is no different. The dashboard and instrument panel are spartan, and fit and finish below par by Honda standards. The blackand-beige layout, an instrument cluster with three round dials for speedometer, tachometer and sundry warning lights, a small glovebox sans chiller, inconsistent panel gaps ... no, not quite Honda standards.
The Ertiga has a better-looking console. Where the Mobilio does excel is in space and ease of use. The seats are skinny and do not offer as much support as the Innova, but the second row is more spacious than the Ertiga. It also has a one-switch flip access to the third row, which can be very cumbersome in some MPVs. The third row, as expected, is not the most spacious, but it gets reclining seats that make it more comfortable. Glass area is large, giving the car an airy feel. Boot space is also good.
Refined petrol and peppy diesel engines
The vehicle gets 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines borrowed from the City, and easily scores over Ertiga on performance. The diesel version, expected to sell more, has good low-end grunt and negligible turbo lag—Ertiga’s achilles’ heel. It pulls cleanly away from traffic in every gear and starts running out of breath only beyond 120 kph. Like the Amaze, top speed is restricted to 140kph. Engine noise has been kept well under check. Still, it isn’t a very quiet or refined cabin when pushed hard. The petrol engine is superbly refined, though it does not offer as much torque at low speeds. This variant would suit people who travel less in city and go out for weekend drives.
The top-of-the-line RS variant gets better-looking alloys too
Verdict: Better than Ertiga but not quite an Innova
On most counts, the Mobilio is a vehicle that meets expectations. A smart looking people mover that is modern and contemporary, spacious interiors though marred somewhat by insipid design and a very peppy drive makes it an unbeatable package. In terms of price, it comes at a premium of nearly Rs 1 lakh over the Ertiga, but that should not faze customers. The higher fuel economy alone would be worth it. Honda has promised to make available later as accessories the few missing features such as rear parking camera.
So long as you don’t look to the Mobilio as an alternative to the Innova, all is well. As a sub Rs. 10 lakh 7-seater, it is strictly a practical family vehicle that looks less like a van and drives more like a car.