Not On Sale Around Here: 2015 Honda Mobilio

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.

2015 Honda Mobilio: Honda India
2015 Honda Mobilio: Honda 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.

2015 Honda Mobilio inteior: Autocar India
2015 Honda Mobilio inteior: Autocar India

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.”

Look at that rear. All ten designers had their say: auto.ndtv
Look at that rear. All ten designers had their say: auto.ndtv

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.

2015 Honda Mobilio. This colour is not on offer in India: gearheads.org
2015 Honda Mobilio. This colour is not on offer in India: gearheads.org

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.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

19 thoughts on “Not On Sale Around Here: 2015 Honda Mobilio”

  1. My God. I’ve never seen that before. I don’t think ‘thank you Richard’ covers it. It is a masterclass in ineptitude. It makes a Ssangyong Rodius look svelte. There are no possible excuses to forgive it. I really don’t understand Honda any more. Is it internal politics that allow things like this to happen?

  2. I have every confidence that one of these sits pride of place on Gorden Wagener’s mood board as we speak…

  3. It is alarming, isn’t it? Although this isn’t a continuation of the Mobilio line, since that name is dead in Japan, replaced by the Freed. Yes, Freed. Or alternately the more van-like Freed Spike. This mpv with panels in desperate need of a good ironing is based on the Honda Brio, a developing markets low-cost hatchback built in Southeast Asia. Perhaps the humidity in Indonesia inspired the rumpled appearance? Perhaps Ken Greenley is running a secret Honda design centre near Jakarta? I don’t know. I guess in answer to Sean’s question there may be a bit of internal politics involved (there is a new CEO this year so we’ll see) or maybe a bit of regional autonomy like Ford in the pre-Mullally days of regional fiefdoms with their own cars? I’m a bit more concerned about why Honda can’t make their F1 engine run properly, and why their wunderkind MotoGP rider can’t give the Yamahas a decent challenge this year. In the meantime I look at old Hondas from last century and wonder if the new S660 kei-class sports car is any good.

  4. It has taken a time for it to sink in fully but I am searching my head and I think this might be the worse designed car from a major manufacturer that I have ever seen. Absolutely ever. And I include Ssangyong, Bugatti, Trabant, Peugeot, Mercedes and various others.

    I almost think it might have been designed to fail for some obscure political reason to do with India’s tax laws. Sue me if you like for making such a suggestion with no evidence at all Honda, but surely that would be better than anyone thinking that you actually regard the Mobilio as being in any way an acceptable addition to your fine history.

  5. I realise that, in view of my recent purchasing decision, people who live in cube shaped glass houses should watch what they throw, but even then I feel confident in my assertion.

    In its favour, it stands out. You won’t miss it in the car park.

  6. It won an Indonesian car of the year award in 2014 and became a best seller in its class there so you might miss it in a carpark over in Jakarta, Bandung or Surabaya. As with people wanting SUVs and luxury manufacturers styling their products with Chinese tastes in mind, perhaps Honda have realised that folks in parts of the world where they wouldn’t know Giugiaro or Gandini from Wagener or Waku-Doki like their new cars extra-creased?

    1. The wheel size is OK, but they kinda look too round. Aren’t there any edges or creases one could add?

  7. It’s the plastic wood that encases the speedometer that gets me. I mean, wow. You literally would not be able to take your eyes off that.

    Incredibly hideous.

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