|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Aesthetically, some people think the Mobilio’s for the visually-challenged. Honestly, there’s no need for such harsh criticism. Sure, it doesn’t look as sharp as the Jaz or HR-V, but it’s still got the styling chops to make it look interesting. It can be mistaken for a wagon with its planted stance. Compared to other MPVs, it’s the only one to retain its car-like profile despite a 189-mm ground clearance. In fact, without peeking through the glass, you can mistake it for a wagon. And who doesn’t like wagons? The front-end is the most controversial part; it’s a love-it-or-hate-it thing, but it does make it a standout. The rest of the package is much more universally accepted.
With an interior largely shared with the Brio/Brio Amaze twins, settling in the cabin brings about a whiff of familiarity. Unlike the polarizing exterior design, the interior’s pretty simple and straightforward. There’s little attempt to give the dashboard a memorable design, but it remains a delight because of its directedness. In all honesty, any driver would be willing to trade aesthetics for something that can be operated by tactile feel. The Mobilio passes that test. It takes less than a few seconds to get acquainted with the driver’s seat as well as the controls. Priced at less than a million pesos, the plastics are understandably of the hard variety, but at least the fit and finish is consistent.
Space-wise, it does the job of being a sensible family hauler. Honda says it’s supposed to ferry seven and that’s possible; but realistically, if you want everyone to stay comfy, keep the body count to six. Yes, there’s good leg and knee space for everyone, but shoulder room is lacking. The reason for this is simple: the width. The length is enough for three rows of seats, but with a width of just 1,683-mm, it’s rather narrow. What it lacks for in width, it makes up for in flexibility. This is one of the best things with the Mobilio. The third row folds in a 50/50 split and tumbles up, hooking to the second row for more cargo space. The second row folds, tumbles, and slides in a 60/40 split enabling the Mobilio to fit long stuff easily. And get this, you can fold down or tumble the second row in any position without wedging it against the back of the front seats. That’s proper engineering right there.
If there’s one criticism you’ll level against it though is the air conditioning does feel taxed to handle Manila’s seat. That’s a surprising fact given it’s supposed to design the horrid summer heat of India. This is down to two things: first is the poor positioning of the front air vents which either blow cold air onto your hands or face (and not much else). Next, the rear air conditioner unit only has vents in the second row meaning those in the third row will just have to sweat it out in the back.
No one really expects an MPV to drive particularly well, but driving is a great Mobilio strength. Again, without the third row seats, it’ll actually pass for a proper wagon. Whether it’s the city, highway, or curvy roads, it feels pretty much like a car with an extra row of seats. The electric power steering is light in feedback, but heavy in precision. At the limit, it does understeer, requiring some steering correction, but at least there’s confidence in pushing this MPV nonetheless. In terms of ride, it’s not as cushy as the Brio Amaze, but not as firm as the Brio. In other words, it’s well-balanced. And this is at the recommended 32 PSI front, 42 PSI rear tire pressure settings. An interesting note is that the Mobilio doesn’t seem to absorb abrupt road cuts that well. Combined with a feeling of hollowness in the underchassis, it reduces the feeling of solidity even if there’s no discernable rattles heard inside the cabin.
With a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, the 120-horsepower figure makes it the most powerful in its class and driving it day-in and day-out, it shows. With one or two people on board, it feels cheerful, darting through traffic with ease. Although the power really comes alive at higher revs, there’s good power even from down low that keeps the experience interesting. The CVT takes a split-second to adjust, but it isn’t deterrent to the fun factor. It actually feels good for a people carrier; something you actually wouldn’t mind living with every day. As you start piling in the passengers, the drivetrain understandably starts getting taxed. By the fifth or sixth person, the CVT has to shift its ratio set to keep engine revs higher. Fuel economy, at 8.77 km/L isn’t so bad, but the small 42-liter tank means a meager maximum range of just 368 kilometers.
The Mobilio is one of the more affordable Hondas you can buy today. Despite not being a part of the brand’s core vehicle line-up, it’s now being accepted by the buying public, capturing the interest of would-be buyers. In the week of driving it, at least three people asked to take a closer look inside. Their curiosity on the Honda Mobilio is well-founded. The 7-seater MPV is a steady seller in the Philippine industry and when sporty brand Honda decided to come in, it was a pleasant surprise to many. From the same company that popularized the entire VTEC and customization culture, the Mobilio presents itself as a legitimate member of the family. It’s well-engineered and fun-to-drive while remaining practical for the Filipino family.
2015 Honda Mobilio 1.5 V
|Ownership||2015 Honda Mobilio 1.5 V CVT|
|Vehicle Classification||Entry-Level MPV|
|Body Type||5-door MPV|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||120 @ 6,600|
|Nm @ rpm||145 @ 4,600|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,162|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Dunlop Ensave EC300+ 185/65R15 H (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40, sliding, tumbling (2nd row); Yes 50/50 tumbling, folding (3rd row)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Climate Control||No, Dual|
|No. of Speakers||4|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|