It’s the latest and smallest member of Honda’s MPV family. This Mobilio is the first Honda model to be introduced in the lower priced MPV category, squarely aimed at the Toyota Avanza.
The Mobilio is said to be based on Honda’s Brio hatchback platform, which is a good thing. We’re big fans of “Honda handling” – a trait which we have found in almost every Honda we’ve driven, even their eco-friendly hybrids.
So, a 7-seater based on hatchback underpinnings. Sounds good.
The Mobilio has a sporty edge to it. The steering felt okay at low speeds, with over-assistance making tight carpark turns a breeze. The car rode a bit on the firm side, which translated into a slightly bouncy ride on rougher roads, but far from being “floaty”. And, once we were past 50km/h, the power steering reduced the amount of assistance and gave the Mobilio a nicely-weighted and communicative steering feel.
It’s not a weekend warrior, but the Mobilio won’t mind a little spirited cornering. Upfront, the steering felt sharp and the car was willing to carve into turns, but the rear end felt less-excited with firmly planted feel. Body roll is decent for an MPV, and it will warn you with gradual understeer.
What about power?
Only one option: The 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with 120 horsepower and 145 Nm of torque. Paired with a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Honda’s Earth Dreams stuff, it’s a car that should be taken easy – and if you do, it will reward you with some pretty good fuel figures. While the claimed fuel consumption figure is at 6.2 L/100km, we managed an average figure of 6.6 L/100km, with a 7-people lunch break trips thrown in.
To help drivers achieve the lowest fuel figure, there is a little “Eco” light that illuminates on the dashboard to tell you that you’re doing fine. We suspect that we only saw it for half the time we spent in the car.
It’s also a very refined powertrain, being quiet at both idle and at regular driving speeds. Driveability? The Mobilio will move briskly enough to suit our local traffic conditions. However, the transmission, when left to its own devices, was boosting economy ratings than instant acceleration. But should the mood take you there, you can have a more responsive (and more vocal) engine once you slip the gear lever to “S”.
And on the inside?
Being a car that’s designed around a low budget, it’s nice to see that Honda hasn’t pinched much from the interior. All passengers get to enjoy leather seats, with the two front seats having a nice sporty look to them. The rear seats are mostly flat, but comfortable.
At the seat’s lowest setting, the driver sits pretty low in the Mobilio. Visibility? Excellent. The Mobilio has some of the largest windows we’ve ever seen in a modern car and that’s good. The interior doesn’t feel cheap and the switches have a nice tactile feel to them.
While most of the interior is back-to-basics, the touchscreen Alpine INE-W957 infotainment system is far more advanced with a reverse camera support, Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation, HDMI input, USB ports, the capability to play almost every media format available and is iPhone-friendly. Sound can be adjusted using the 9-Band parametric EQ, 6-Channel time correction and high pass/low pass filter controls….
The air-conditioner is an absolute chilling machine, keeping all of us cool in the blazing afternoons while sitting in traffic. The rear blower, although powerful enough to send cold air to the back, runs a tad too loud for our liking.
You’ll need to get used to the lack of a seatbelt height adjustment and a driver’s arm rest. That’s all.
What about space?
Plenty. It’s a narrow car but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Space to store your grub? Plenty. The glovebox is okay-sized but the front and rear door pockets are wide and can hold huge bottles. Two cup holders and a storage hole are found on the centre console. And, there is another bottle holder between the front seats.
Headroom is generous for the first and second row passengers. Adults in the last row might find it a squeeze, but there is enough space to endure a trip to neighborhooding cities next to the borders.
With all seats up, you can squeeze one large piece of luggage in the boot, but barely. Good thing that these rear seats flip up and forward easily to create more boot space.
Enough to put you off?
If you need to move seven people at the lowest price, nothing shall put you off from the Mobilio. However, it’s not alone. Its competitor is priced lower, but skips the high-tech entertainment navigation system and comes with a 4-speed auto box. It’s a very close fight.
Honda Mobilio 1.5 RS Luxe MPV i-VTEC
Engine: 1,497 cc, inline 4
Power/rpm: 120 hp/6600 rpm
Torque/rpm: 145 Nm/4600 rpm
Transmission: Earth Dreams CVT
0-100km/h: 11.6 secs
Top speed: 160 km/h
Fuel consumption: 6.2 l/100 km
CO2: 148 g/km
Kerbweight: 1,160 kg
Price: from S$138,999 with COE