Japanese auto giant, Honda is all set to launch its much anticipated low cost MPV- Mobilio by the end of July this year in India. The popular Toyota Innova, the new GO+ MPV by Datsun and the Ertiga which was recently launched by Maruti Suzuki are some of the hot selling MPVs in the country. The demand for MPVs has suddenly risen but will the new Mobilio be able to make its mark? To answer this question, I got on this car and tested its mettle in Indonesia, where MPV is the hottest selling segment.
We already know the traffic jams in India but the condition is even worse in Jakarta. Travelling time (to and fro) from the centre of Jakarta easily exceeds 5 hours on a good day. On a normal day, expect it to be around 8 hours. This is the reason that Jakarta tops the entry on traffic jam charts. People are completely used to the amount of time they spend in traffic jams and thus want their cars to be extremely comfortable. Thus, Indonesians prefer to buy MPVs. Medium or small sized sedans and hatchbacks are a rare view on Indonesian roads. When I and my friends went out to test this car, we limited ourselves to the outskirts and left our hotel at the earliest time possible (5:30a.m.), yet we failed to beat the traffic. Buzzing horns and lanes piled up with traffic welcomed us even at such an early hour. Continue reading the article to know more about my experience.
Style & design
When I first saw the new Mobilio, it immediately reminded me of the Honda Brio hatch. Except for the newly styled sporty & aggressive looking bumpers of the new MPV, the front faces of the two are quite similar. However, the sides and the rear parts are very different which I really liked. When I look at Datsun GO+, I feel it is just an elongated GO. The same can't be said about Mobilio.
Honda's signature sharp winged grille and the badge stylize the car from front. At the rear end, you see little integrated roof spoiler & nice tail lamps perfectly blended with the design. On sides, you can see huge wheel arches and a new broad window line which also suggests the spacious interior Mobilio has. It measures 4386 x 1683 x 1603mm. Clearly, the new MPV has increased height. The wheelbase of 2650mm is also longer than before. It is designed to carry more passengers.
Honda may have launched this extremely stylish car in the low cost MPV category but it does not look cheap at all. If you compare with the GO+ MPV and the Ertiga, the exterior styling is far better. Some of its panels & parts are borrowed straight from the Brio hatch to save costs but that is something every auto manufacturer does.
Inside, there is plenty of space- just like in all Honda cars. Seven passengers can be easily accommodated in its three rows of seats. At front, the high quality black dashboard looks impressive but I didn't like the fixed headrests on front seats. The second row seats have to be slid to gain access to the last ones. Like the competitors, the second row seats accommodate three passengers and the last ones accommodate two passengers easily. When I went to review this car, I had a whole gang of friends together who wanted to try it out and everybody fitted in so comfortably except those two in the third row seats who complained of little leg room. Due to its smaller wheelbase, the Mobilio is not as comfortable as the new Ertiga. Roof-mounted air conditioning vent cools the car completely across the three rows.
The new Honda Mobilio comes with petrol and diesel engine options. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine which is borrowed from Honda City gives a maximum power of 119 PS at 6600rpm and a maximum torque of 145 Nm at 4600rpm. The 1.5-liter i-DTEC diesel engine gives a maximum power of 100 PS at 3600rpm and a maximum torque of 200 Nm at 1750rpm. The last 1,500rpm in the power band is particularly explosive. The engine also comes with a Torque Boost Resonator. While the petrol engine is coupled with 5-speed manual gearbox or CVT transmission, the diesel one is coupled with a 6 speed gearbox. The car has short gearing due to its higher Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and this causes low engine speed responses.
The new Mobilio gave us an impressive overall ride quality. There was no turbo lag and a mere tap on the throttle, got the car in action. The car reacts very quickly to higher gears but an additional sixth gear should have been present. I felt this because 100kph equates to approximately 3,500rpm in the fifth gear and driving the car at 120kph makes the engine speed up even higher. As the highway speeds are getting quicker in India, like its competitors, Honda should also lengthen the gearing. On the other hand, if we see, there are some benefits of the short gearing. For example, the car engine offers good punch on hand, especially past 4,000rpm. Another disappointment was the road noise. Like other cars on this platform, Mobilio is not well insulated and I could hear all the traffic buzz and road noises, especially over the rough terrains. The on-road stability is not an issue. The big 15-inch rims, long wheelbase and the 185mm ground clearance- all ensure that your ride is comfortable & as smooth as possible. Suspension is superb and I could hardly feel any bumps. The cornering and overall agility felt as good as that of the Honda Amaze.
Price & availability
The new Mobilio is the first Honda car in the low priced MPV segment. It will be launched in India next month and is expected to be priced at Rs. 6.3 to 9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Honda Mobilio is already a success in Indonesia as it is a stylish seven-seater that offers huge space, efficient engine and light drive. It delivers exactly what Indian customers want but it is expected to be priced at a premium of around Rs 50,000 to the equally good Ertiga. If you prefer a Honda car over Maruti Suzuki, you would want to buy the Mobilio.
Read more about Honda Mobilio at http://www.hondamobilio.in