Honda just pulled an ace up their proverbial sleeve with the introduction of the Mobilio, a small multi-purpose utility vehicle (MUV) that can actually fit seven people. For the longest time, Filipinos had been pressing Honda to come out with a proper family transporter that is not only fuel-efficient, but affordable as well. Heeding the call of their customers, Honda finally brought the Mobilio to the Philippines to provide them with a lot more car, for much less.
The Mobilio is based on the Honda Brio/Brio Amaze model. However, it looks more like a station-wagon version of the previous-generation Jazz. The Mobilio uses Honda’s “Man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy to provide a more spacious cabin, with looks that is far better than its rivals.
Built on an extended version of the Brio platform, the Mobilio has a 2-3-2 seating configuration, with seats that tumble and fold down to provide bigger cabin space for cargoes.
To make sure the MUV has enough muscle to carry a full-load of passengers, the class-leading 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine that produces 120 horsepower and 145Nm of torque was placed under the Mobilio’s hood. Honda could have placed the 1.3-liter powerplant in the Mobilio but engineers figured the power-to-weight-ratio would be low, and this will not give good fuel economy.
With the 1.5-liter engine, the power-to-weight ratio is more than adequate to pull a fully-loaded Mobilio in and out of traffic, and for merging, overtaking and cruising along highways.
Complementing the fuel-efficient engine is the Earth Dreams Continuous Variable Transmission (found in the Jazz and City models) that provides efficient and smooth shifting for all types of driving behavior.
To show the small MUV is indeed a capable people-mover, Honda organized a 320-kilometer ride-and-drive event from the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, to Puerto Gallera in Mindoro Occidental. Using six units of the Mobilio, carrying four passengers each together with a load of luggage, the convoy traversed the SLEX and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) until reaching the Roll-on, Roll-off port in Batangas City. The engine has ample power for highway merging and overtaking maneuvers, making sure that the no one, including the Mobilio, will get left behind.
Driving toward the port in Batangas was unexciting as the Mobilio rode exceptionally well over the mostly flat SLEX and STAR highway, with nary a whisper of wind and road noise.
It was when we crossed over Calapan, in the island of Mindoro, that the drive became more rousing. Half of the journey from Calapan to Puerto Galera is generally flat, but as soon as the Western Nautical Highway cut into the boonies, the highway begins to have twists and turns across undulating mountainsides with the occasional sweeping vistas. This part of the drive truly proved how competent the Mobilio is. The steering wheel feels well-connected to the front wheels, enabling it to keep up with the tight and fast transitions of the road as it carved through the mountainside. The suspension system was tight and provided a very controlled body-roll. Take a fast corner, and this car doesn’t sway over to one side like it’s trying to touch the ground. The ride feels smooth and nice, even when the road becomes rough.
Fuel efficiency is outstanding. Taking note of the fuel consumption as we drove to Puerto Galera, the Mobilio averaged 14.9 kilometers per liter on the highway and 10.2 kpl in the boonies.
Inside, the Mobilio provides a wider and longer space for the legroom and knee clearance; and generous space for the headroom. The second-row seat reclines and splits into a 60/40 configuration. It folds and tumbles as well to allow third-row passengers easy access to the back. The third row seat, on the other hand, is a reclining 50/50 split, that also folds and tumbles to give more flexibility to accommodate different hauling needs.
The cockpit features ergonomic controls with luxurious silver trim. The triple analog three-dimensional (3D) meters easily show information the driver needs at any given time.
The Mobilio RS is equipped with a seven-inch touch screen audio unit with built-in navigation system powered by Garmin. The audio unit includes easy-to-operate features such as Emergency Hotline Button for sudden roadside needs, Bluetooth audio and hands-free telephone (HFT), CD/DVD drive, as well as USB and AUX ports. Meanwhile, an advanced 2-DIN audio unit with Bluetooth audio and hands-free telephone (HFT), CD, USB and AUX ports is available for the V variant
The Mobilio is built with driver and passenger SRS airbags, anti-lock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution, seat belt reminder, immobilizer and ISOFIX as standard safety features in all variants.
The Honda Mobilio has been sold in India, Indonesia and South Africa since 2013 in right-hand-drive models. Honda executives revealed the Philippine-spec Mobilios are the first ever left-hand drive units produced for the model. To think that it would take a considerable number of cars for a manufacturer to tweak their production line to accommodate a different variant, we believe Honda Cars Philippines is extremely confident that this model to be well-received and sell like hotcakes in the local market. And with a price starting from just P807,000, they could be spot on with their sales projection. After all, at this price, buyers get more Honda, for much less.