2014 Honda Mobilio Review
Car Tested: 2014 Honda Mobilio
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7.78 – 13.35 lakhs
The Honda Mobilio offers strong performance, good interior space and excellent dynamics
A couple of years back, Honda rejigged its India strategy, chalked out plans to focus on the volume segment, thereby working towards boosting its business prospects in India. Part of this strategy was to focus on growing segments, the Civic and Accord were left to phase out slowly while entry into the growing hatchback segment with the Brio led to the start of Honda’s new volume focussed India journey. But what was a bigger impact was the Amaze, the second car to be based on the Brio platform. Within no time the sub 4-metre sedan became Honda’s best selling vehicle in India and now a third product on the same platform has been developed, the Mobilio. Set to rival in the growing MPV segment, the Honda Mobilio is a 7-seater which looks promising on paper but does it deliver? A drive in the wine capital of India helps us to find out.
Motor Quest: Honda launched the first generation Mobilio in 2001, replacing it with the Freed in 2008. The vehicle was sold in Japan but the second generation model was unveiled only this year and is aimed at emerging markets like Thailand, Indonesia and India. It is codenamed DD4.
Exteriors – The Mobilio is unmistakably from the Brio family as so evident by the front design. However, Honda has made minor revisions to the front of the car with a large chrome grille, new detailing in the headlights and black finishing on the bumper, making it look sporty. While this doesn’t differentiate the front appearance of the car from its sibling, it does reduce the visual bulk caused by the increased height. On the side, one will appreciate the 15-inch wheels which fill the arches well and the window line isn’t straight on the rear doors which causes the rear windows to not look too big, however, they are the biggest we have seen in any mass market car till date. Black finishing around the third row window extends to the rear, which is by far the most attractive part of this car.
The tail lights are easily the highlights at the rear, they seem to be inspired from BMW’s SUV line-up and if you remove the badging, one could quite mistake this car to be a BMW from the rear. Right from the bumper to the way the reflectors have been placed, everything looks neat on the Mobilio. Honda has also offered a RS version of the car which will be available with a diesel engine. There will be no mechanical changes but a load of cosmetic differences like projector headlights with DRLs, body kit, rear spoiler, sporty wheels, turn indicators on rear view mirrors, new bumpers, new front grille and a chrome muffler. The RS version looks really sporty and the changes transform the very appearance of the Mobilio.
Interiors – Honda has carried over the dashboard from the Brio/Amaze with very few changes. While quality is good, a thorough revision of the dash would have boosted its appeal massively. An audio-visual navigation touch-screen audio system (with a reverse camera) and wood garnish on the dashboard (includes wood on all door panels) was present on our test car but won’t be offered on the production model, it will be removed as feedback about the same hasn’t been positive. The driver side AC vents also get chrome lining while the dual-tone black and beige finishing does keep the cabin airy. Honda has still not added essential features which are lacking in the Brio/Amaze. The doors still don’t auto-lock and there isn’t a dedicated button to lock and unlock the doors. There is still no climate control system and Bluetooth connectivity is absent as well. There is however, a reversing camera but no parking sensors.
The Honda Mobilio has plenty of headroom in the first two rows but for tall passengers, it’s a bit lacking in the third row. The rear doors can hold two bottles but the front seats don’t have pockets at the back. The AC is a chiller and Honda has placed a roof mounted AC with three vents and three fan speeds above the front seats to cool rear occupants. The fan is a bit too loud on maximum airflow. The rear doors are huge and so are the windows so getting in and out is easy (even for third row passengers) while sitting in the second row is a terrific experience as you have good space all around and really large windows, giving an excellent view of the outside. There is a centre arm rest as well.
All seats of the car can be reclined, the second row can be moved back and forth and can be reclined for added comfort while the last row too can be reclined (by 23 degrees). However, comfort in the last row isn’t great for tall passengers, the seat is a bit low and your knees are up, resulting in no under thigh support whatsoever. You do get a cupholder and a place to keep your mobile in the last row but only an iPhone fits here, anything bigger won’t. Small last row windows coupled with the lack of room means the third row of seats is best suited for children or low heighted adults. All passengers (except the one sitting in the middle in the second row) get an arm rest. The seats are a bit on the harder side and except the front row, all other seats come with adjustable headrests. The seats are leather like, which is artificial leather and they look good but aren’t soft and thus compromise on comfort as they are quite slim.
The audio system in the Mobilio offers decent sound output, there are no speakers in the second row, instead the rear speakers are placed in the third row. With the AVN system, plenty of connectivity options are placed in the glovebox but shockingly the iPhone connectivity pin is the old one which doesn’t work with the latest iDevices (Lightning connector). The seating is very flexible in this Honda, the boot is decently big and can swallow two suitcases while you can also fold it along with the centre row of seats to boost luggage carrying capacity. The seats don’t fold flat though. Side step illumination with Mobilio written on it is also on the options list.
Performance – Honda is offering the Mobilio with two engine options, the diesel engine is carried over from the Amaze while the petrol motor comes from the City. Both these units are excellent and perform smoothly with a lot of punch to give the Mobilio slick performance. The petrol won’t do as much volumes as the diesel, still the 1.5-litre i-VTEC mill is a hoot to drive. With 119 PS of power and 145 Nm of torque, the petrol Mobilio is always eager to leap ahead with even the slightest of throttle input. It feels peppy and revs cleanly to its 7000 RPM redline. There is a lot of engine noise filtering inside the cabin, which can be both a good thing, if you like driving, you will love the sweet sounding motor making its racket post 4000 RPM.
The petrol powered Honda Mobilio reaches 100 km/hr in third and the gearing itself is on the taller side, helping you to stretch past 140 km/hr in third gear itself. You can cruise comfortably at 100 km/hr with the tacho ticking in at 3000 RPM in top gear. The 5-speed gearbox offers slick shifts and the clutch is well weighed too, both on the petrol and diesel variants. Unlike the diesel, where the speed limiter kicks in at 140 km/hr (145 km/hr on the speedo), the petrol Mobilio we drove featured no limiter and easily whizzed past 160 km/hr, in fourth gear. Honda isn’t offering the car with a CVT gearbox as very few people want an automatic petrol MPV in India. The petrol version is rated at 17.3 km/l while the diesel is rated at 24.2 km/l, easily class leading (ARAI tested figures).
The 1.5-litre diesel engine has been well appreciated in the Amaze and City. It packs in 100 PS and 200 Nm, offers linear performance with negligible turbolag and despite the added weight, the diesel Mobilio feels peppy. Performance is excellent and the diesel model gathers good pace, it has the punch to pull to high speeds with ease. The powerband is short as redline comes in early at 4000 RPM where the motor becomes loud. The big gripe with Honda’s diesel engine was NVH, the company has resolved this completely in the Mobilio, it simply doesn’t sound loud like the Amaze or City. Better insulation with the use of sound deadening material on the hood has helped big time, there is simply no diesel clatter audible inside or outside the cabin. 100 km/hr comes up in third with the same speed in fifth showing around 2300 RPM on the tacho, giving it good range to pull further before the limiter kicks in.
Driving Dynamics – You can’t defy the rules of physics as higher ground clearance (the Mobilio has a generous 189 mm) and taller height do hamper dynamics but this Honda MPV did surprise us with its almost car like handling. You simply don’t feel you are driving an MPV, it feels like an Amaze to drive and none of the weight is felt. The handling is good too, body roll is well contained and the vehicle is quite agile as well. While it’s not the car to push around corners, it does reasonably well there too. The steering is light at low speeds and weighs up decently as you gather pace but it does lack feel.
Even better is the ride quality, while it does feel stiffly sprung (the diesel more so), the Mobilio offers a pliant ride at almost all speeds. Even when seated at the third row, you will appreciate the smooth ride of this car, remember, third row passengers are essentially sitting on the rear tyre. The brakes of the car have been made stronger to cope up with the extra weight and they work very well, offering strong stopping power. The vehicle remains stable at speed but gets a bit bouncy above triple digit speeds on bad roads. Still the balance between ride, handling and braking is nothing short of phenomenal (by MPV standards).
Safety – Since the Honda Mobilio isn’t sold in European markets, Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the car. Considering it doesn’t get side airbags or traction control, it is likely to get 4-stars at best. Honda has only offered front airbags on the car but side airbags should have been offered as an option, at least on the top trim. ABS is likely to be standard across the range as Honda already offers all diesel Amaze variants with ABS.
Verdict – The Honda Mobilio is a well rounded MPV but it is made to a price and that’s evident on certain fronts. For instance, there is little change in dashboard design compared to the Brio/Amaze and all of this has been done to keep costs in check. Even a 6-speed gearbox (seen on the City), which would make the diesel Mobilio even more efficient has been ditched in favour of the cost effective 5-speed unit found on the Amaze. Equipment levels could have been more generous considering its key rival, the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga will remain cheaper while offering a host of added features. Still, these things aren’t something of a big concern for MPV buyers, who want an easy to drive car with surefooted dynamics. The Honda Mobilio makes for a spacious and practical 7-seater MPV with frugal and powerful engines on offer, it’s destined to be a big hit in our value conscious market.
The Honda Mobilio is a 7-seater vehicle which fares very well on multiple counts. Not only is it well packaged, it also drives and rides very well which will appeal to all kinds of MPV buyers in India.
* Both diesel and petrol engine performance
* Reduced NVH on diesel motor
* Well sorted dynamics
* Space and practicality
What’s Not So Cool
* Lacks some features (no auto-locking doors, Bluetooth or climate control)
* Front similar to Brio/Amaze robs front design highlight
2014 Honda Mobilio Specifications
* Engine: 1497cc, SOHC, 16V, i-VTEC (Petrol), 1498cc, DOHC, 16V, i-DTEC (Diesel)
* Power: 119 PS @ 6600 RPM (Petrol), 100 PS @ 3600 RPM (Diesel)
* Torque: 145 Nm @ 4600 RPM (Petrol), 200 Nm @ 1750 RPM (Diesel)
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 12 seconds (Petrol), 15 seconds (Diesel) (est.)
* Top Speed: 140 km/hr (Limited)
* Fuel Consumption: 10 km/l (Petrol), 15 km/l (Diesel)
* Fuel Type: Petrol, Diesel
* Suspension: McPherson Strut (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 185/65/15
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)
* Safety: Dual Airbags, ABS
2014 Honda Mobilio Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4386 mm X 1683 mm X 1603 mm
* Wheelbase: 2652 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.2 metres
* Ground clearance: 189 mm
* Boot Space: 223 litres, 521 litres (with rear seats folded)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 42 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1131-1160 kgs (Petrol), 1214-1245 kgs (Diesel)
Further Reading –
Honda Mobilio Long Term Review
Honda Mobilio vs Maruti Ertiga
Honda Mobilio RS Travelogue