I am leisurely driving this new vehicle near Sula Vineyards on the outskirts of Nashik when I notice headlights flashing in the rear-view mirror. It is a Toyota Innova. At the driver’s request, I pull over. Two curious souls emerge and start checking out my vehicle. After answering their queries, as I am about to get back to the road, another car pulls over, this time a Honda City. Soon enough, two people on a bike stop and admire the upmarket styling of my machine. Quite clearly, the vehicle I am driving is attracting a lot of eyeballs. After all, it was one of the stars at the Auto Expo 2014 and will be launched in India on July 23. Please welcome the Honda Mobilio, the compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).
MPVs are not new to India. From the Innova to the Tavera, from the Evalia to the Xylo, you can spot numerous on Indian roads. But while most MPVs are large and generally seen as taxicabs, it was the Maruti Ertiga that changed it all two years ago—it created a new segment of compact, family-oriented MPVs. The Ertiga gave Indian families space, comfort, ease of driving and affordability. The Honda Mobilio goes a step further and adds “upmarket styling” to that list.
The Mobilio is based on Honda’s “lightning bolt” design language which gives it a unique identity. While the smartly done up front resembles that of the Brio and the Amaze—with the grille being a nice differentiator—it is the rear section that sets it apart. Large, wraparound tail-lamps, fine detailing and sharp design lines on the tail-gate look lovely. In fact, the rear three-quarter is the best angle to look at the Mobilio. The side profile, too, is arresting—the chiselled creases give it a lot of aggressiveness, large middle windows are practical, and a class-leading 189-mm ground clearance coupled with 15-inch tyres give this MPV a raised stance.
The Mobilio uses Honda’s “man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy and this results in a decently spacious cabin. While the dashboard and the front seats are pretty much similar to that of the Amaze (the Mobilio has more headroom, though), the difference starts showing once you move towards the middle row, which is quite spacious. Further, large windows adds to that “feeling of space”. The last row, as expected, is short on legroom, lacks thigh