After Maruti’s Ertiga, it’s now Mobilio, the seven-seater from Honda. Aditya Bengali has the details

Honda’s new MPV, the Mobilio, is all set to take on the as-yet-unchallenged Maruti Ertiga in the Indian market and we reckon Honda’s first MPV in India won’t go unnoticed.

To save costs, the Mobilio is similar to the Brio and Amaze when viewed from the front as all three siblings share body panels all the way to the B-pillar. There are a few tweaks like a wider grille and sportier chin but when viewed head-on, you could mistake it for either the Brio or the saloon.

Move to the side and you can see that Honda has resorted to some clever illusions to mask the car’s elongated and van-like proportions. To begin with, there’s a kink in the window line and two upward moving cuts along the side of the body that act as a sort of guide for your eyes to follow. Then there are the flared wheel-arches and even a ‘floating’ design for the rear pillar of the car, the latter achieved using part sheet metal and part blacked-out glass.

The Mobilio gets larger 15-inch wheels which fill out the wheel arches and give it a good stance. Move over to the rear and this MPV shows you probably its best angle. The wraparound look of the rear windscreen, flared haunches, big tail-lights and an attractive split at the bottom make it look dynamic and youthful. So, while the styling is pretty decent, how does it fare in terms of practicality? After all, MPVs are all about space and, from what we’ve seen here, we can say that Honda has used its packaging expertise to make this MPV fairly spacious.

The extra space comes from the fact that the Mobilio’s 2650mm wheelbase is a good 245mm longer than even the Amaze’s, which itself has a wheelbase that’s 60mm longer than the Brio’s. As expected, the cabin employs the same dash as the Brio and the Amaze, which again does look a tad too basic for a car at this price point. However, this car was a prototype and the production car is expected to get a few changes in the cabin to make it look more upmarket. This prototype’s interiors had an all-black dashboard with beige seats and door trim.

Just like the Brio and Amaze, the front seats has a fixed headrest and this may come across as a bit low-rent to consumers if it’s carried forward to the production model. Move to the second row and you’ll appreciate Honda’s ability to liberate space from smaller cabins. Just like the Ertiga, the Mobilio also offers sliding second row seats and the reasonably long rails result in great flexibility in attaining the desired legroom. Sitting here, it really doesn’t feel like this Honda MPV has a 100mm wheelbase deficit over the Ertiga and more than matches the Maruti for passenger space. Then, there’s also a roof-mounted air-conditioning vent to cool the second and third rows and although we couldn’t test its effectiveness, aesthetically, the slightly crudely finished air-flow selector and the overall vent design does look like it’s built to a cost.

A seven-seater should ideally be able to accommodate seven people comfortably and hence we were particularly interested in the last row, to see if it can seat two adults. I’m five feet 10 inches tall and with the middle row left in its centre position, there’s adequate room for my knees to move about a bit with a clearance of about half an inch. However, when the middle row seats were pushed back all-the-way, my knees were quite tightly jammed against the backrest of the 60:40 split middle seat. Overall, I’d say that with a slight bit of compromise, the Mobilio can genuinely carry seven passengers in decent comfort. As for the boot, even with the third row seats upright, it’s quite spacious and can easily hold a suitcase and a couple of soft bags. The Mobilio is powered by the same 1.5-litre i-DTEC engine as seen on the Amaze and will offer superior driveability. The petrol-engined Mobilio is powered by Honda’s 1.5-litre i-VTEC motor. When the Mobilio is launched in India, it is expected to be priced at around Rs. 30,000 more than the equivalent Ertiga. With the launch of the Mobilio, Honda will gain access to this niche market and may just help itself to a generous helping of the pie.