Honda’s styling has gone off the rails in a big way, to judge by the interior and exterior appearance of this MPV which is on sale in India.
The rear view is especially confused, with a modish and rather useless faux semi-glazed D-pillar. What more is there to the car? The Mobilio is short, just 4.3 metres and is judged to be well packaged. Two engines, a 1.5 litre petrol unit (119 PS) and a 1.5 litre diesel (100 PS) are the only power plant available. It is based on the Brio platform from 2010 and competes with a swarm of small MPVs in the Asian and sub-Continental market.
They offer eight colours, including a pleasant beige metallic. The suspension is by McPherson struts at the front and space-efficient torsion beams at the rear. Discs brakes are fitted up front and drums at the rear, which is probably a function of the price sensitivity of the customers in its target market.
The dashboard is a curious mix of Honda lunacy and unexpected trad touches in the form of rather curiously placed wood-effect plastic. Fan as I am of mock-wood, this application seems too far beyond belief.
Autocar India tested the Mobilio against the Toyota Innova, Maruti Ertiga and Renault Lodgy. This is what they had to say: “The Mobilio, meanwhile, looks the most current of the lot and being masters of packaging, Honda has squeezed out the most cabin space in this tiny MPV. But what you don’t get even though you spend more than Rs 10 lakh on a car, is a premium feel. The cost-cutting is glaringly obvious on the inside and so is the lack of insulation and equipment. To make things worse, the cabin feels spartan too. And though the engine is a strong performer, it is the least refined and adds to the utilitarian feeling.”
That said, sales are running at about 70,000 to 100,000 units annually, which is commendable.
Auto.ndtv had this to say about the diesel: “We drove the top-end diesel variant, which is expected to drive the volumes for Honda. The 1.5-litre i-Dtec continues to impress with a claimed mileage of 24.2Km/l, whereas the i-Vtec petrol engine will offer 17.3Km/l. Claimed efficiency figures for both the engines are well ahead of its competitors. Honda has also enhanced friction reduction in both engines to boost fuel efficiency.
The 1.5-litre diesel mill is certainly impressive and is a little bit less noisy as compared to the one on the Amaze. Honda’s efforts to insulate the Mobilio’s cabin shows that only makes the driving experience a little better. What makes the MUV even more fun is the fact that the gear shifts are quick and smooth, with an equally smooth acceleration. That said, the steering does feel a tad bit light and is no fun at high speeds.”
For me the real eye-opener is the marked change in Honda’s approach to exterior design compared to the Mobilio Mk1. That car is a study in Japanese cubic rationalism and I rather like its no-nonsense approach compared to the rather contrived treatment of the current car.
Of course, it’s not on sale here though perhaps with some modest tweaks it really ought to be. People don’t seem to mind styling mash-ups and the compact dimensions, low price and practical interior would give people hunting in the small MPV class something more than they have on offer now.