Spotted – Honda Mobilio

Whilst enjoying a genteel weekend away on the Suffolk coast, I spotted one of these:

Having Richard's "grown-up" Daihatsu in mind made it register with me.
Having Richard’s “grown-up” Daihatsu in mind made it register with me.

I was very much interested and taken by it as an overtly practical piece of design. Closer inspection revealed it to be a Mobilio, a name I recognised, but could not for the life of me place ….

My daughter took this picture!
My daughter took this picture! I like the design of the rear lamps – very neat.

I think that my brain had been influenced by Richard’s ‘grown-up’ Daihatsu, featured recently and hence took notice of such a distinctly inside-out design.  Wikipedia reveals that the car is only just over 4m long (the same as a C3 Picasso), just under 1.7m wide (just narrower) and just over 1.7m in height (a little taller). In the metal, it looked bigger than that, possibly a trick of the eye caused by the proportions (that’s a very long wheelbase and shot rear overhang), form and small wheels. Wiki also says it comes with 7 (!) seats and the option of 4WD, powered by a 1.5l VTEC engine. At least it did, because this car was built between 2001 and 2008.  The example I saw was obviously a grey import.

And then, scrolling down the Wiki entry, I remembered where I had heard the name before … because in late 2013 the badge was revived on this:

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

We’ve “discussed” this later car before, but I had not appreciated that it had such a nicer antecedent. If ever there was a visual metaphor for how the once wonderful Honda has fallen, for me, this is it!  And no, I don’t like the new Civic Type-R (vulgar in a repelling way), nor the new NSX (derivative) either. So there!

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

8 thoughts on “Spotted – Honda Mobilio”

    1. Oh yes, I’d forgotten the S660, I like both of those, but we don’t get either of those “over here”. My comment is generally based on a more limited range available here – Jazz (aka Fit), Civic, Civic Tourer, HRV, CRV. The latest Jazz is pretty awkward, the Civic a backward step from its predecessor, the Tourer is quite striking and I quite like, the HRV is unresolved and fussy, the CRV is quite nice to my eyes (albeit looks like many other SUV’s on the road these days – especially the new Tucsan).

    2. Thanks SV, your explaination pretty much covers what I meant by ‘I know what you mean.’ NZ gets a fairly similar range, although here we get the Civic saloon as well as the Civic Euro hatchback, and the Accord Euro/Acura TSX alongside the US Accord. Although it looks like this is the last year of the European version of the Accord, in Australasia at least. We don’t get the kei cars either through official channels.

      There’s more to be said about Honda but for now I’ll leave you with the EV-Cub scooter concept from the Tokyo Motorshow, and Honda Tama, the Moped Mentor

    3. “Honda Tama, the Moped Mentor”

      ???

      Is he/she related to Curtis E. Bear, the Courtesy Bear?

  1. Thanks for posting that. Isn´t it surprising someone chose this of all the possible little wonders they could bring over? It´s still refreshing to see. The general class of Kei shows that restrictions on design of a certain type can produce incredible inventiveness. The N-One car above really appeals to me. The graphics are great fun, simply put. The Mobilio is the first van/car I have seen that really managed to deal with the door slider. On curvy cars it´s a menace (the C-Max springs to mind). Here it fits right in. Lovely. Well spotted!

    1. Yes, I grow more and more fond of Kei cars every time I see examples posted here (or elsewhere). What I miss is not only the wide variety of shapes that can be put in such small space, but also the refreshing colours and decors many of these cars have. I wonder if people really buy this stuff or if, like in Europe, manufacturers propose daring colours for press photos, but customers stick to safer options, like grey with black or black with grey.

  2. Very nice car indeed.
    And the rail of the sliding door does not disturb the sideview, because the Mobilio has some more horizontal lines.

  3. That’s a very good question about the differences between the colours in the catalogue and what people choose. Still, even comparing only catalogues I get the options are more varied in Japan.
    The dimension restriction has the wonderful effect of forcing creativity into other areas. It’s quite uplifting to see.

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