Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Martin Aguilar, Honda PH | posted May 05, 2015 15:52
From Manila to Mindoro: Driving the all new Honda Mobilio
For us Filipinos, the family does everything together. We eat together, we watch movies together, we go to the malls together and we travel together. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that any vehicle with seven seats has a strong tendency to sell well.
And why not? Having the ability to seat seven persons -parents plus children, cousins, grandparents, so on- in just one vehicle is a very strong selling point for any car manufacturer. One of these is Honda.
Fresh from its launch, the 2015 Mobilio is thrust into a very competitive segment, and to demonstrate what this new multi-purpose vehicle can do, Honda took us on a drive; one that would take us from the busy metropolis, across a sea and onto the island province of Mindoro
Seven seats of fun
In a nutshell, the 2015 Mobilio is set to compete against models like the Toyota Avanza, Chevrolet Spin, Suzuki Ertiga and the like. Technically speaking, the 2015 Mobilio is actually a second generation model; the first one was sold in Japan from 2001 to 2008.
The Mobilio may share the Brio platform, but it measures in at 4398mm long, 1683mm wide, 1603mm tall with a wheelbase of 2652mm. In perspective, the Mobilio is longer by 258mm when compared to the Avanza, 138mm against the Spin and 133mm to the Ertiga. According to Honda, it took them two years to develop the Philippine-spec 2015 Mobilio and it is the only one available in left hand drive configuration. Other markets that get the Mobilio include India, Indonesia and Thailand.
In terms of the exterior, the front end of the 2015 Mobilio looks similar to the Brio but the seven seater vehicle comes with a wider honeycomb-shaped grill. On the other hand, the rear of the 2015 Mobilio is fitted with large distinctive taillights along with a prominent wheel arches and a roof-mounted spoiler.
The interior of the 2015 Mobilio is straightforward with round dials and circular airconditioning vents, similar to the Brio. The dashboard is made from hard plastic while the three-spoke steering wheel comes with audio controls. It has decent leg and head room as well as another airconditioning unit to cool down the cabin for second and third row passengers.
Seating is arranged like most other seven seaters: 2 in the front, 3 in the middle and 2 in the back. Given that this is a compact MPV, there is still some space in the boot even with the rear seats up, though don't expect to put balikbayan boxes there with a fully occupied cabin.
Driving the 2015 Mobilio
For the drive to Mindoro, we hopped on board the 2015 Mobilio 1.5V. All Mobilios for the Philippine market come powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine that generates 120 PS and 145 Nm of torque. Foreign examples get the Mobilio with other engines, including a 1.5-liter i-DTEC turbo diesel engine.
Locally, Honda Cars Philippines offer the Mobilio with either a 5-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission.
Now its time to drive the 2015 Mobilio. As we made our way into the South Luzon Expressway all the way to STAR Tollway, the Mobilio showed us what it's made for. The power from the 1.5 is decent but it was the CVT's quick response (with the prod of the throttle) that made the Mobilio feel sprightlier than expected and perhaps even deliver a driving experience that can suit spirited drivers. Power kicks in between the 4000 and 4500 rpm mark and overtaking slower vehicles is done with a measure of confidence. It was at this point, however, that we felt Honda could have paid more attention to minimizing the Mobilio's engine noise with a bit more sound insulation.
After the highway stretch, we made our pit stop at a restaurant in Batangas for some lunch before making our way to the RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ferry bound for Calapan, Mindoro.
Tackling Mindoro's twisties...
When we reached Mindoro, the convoy made its way through the rural traffic and entered the winding roads to reach Puerto Galera. The 2015 Mobilio stood out and proved its capabilities as a new challenger in the compact seven seater segment.
It was clear that Honda paid a lot of attention in developing the Mobilio's handling and steering feel, as demonstrated by the MPV's ability to handle Mindoro's twisties without a sweat. In all honesty, I felt that I was driving a sedan rather than a seven seater vehicle.
Based on our drive, the Mobilio's powertrain can also take on uphill and downhill roads with ease but you do have to take note that there were only three of us in the car. It would be nice if we were able to try the car with seven occupants in order to see how it would feel fully loaded.
After driving for around 2 hours, we were able to reach our stop for the night: the Infinity Resort in Talipanan, Puerto Galera.
...and back again
When the sun went up the next day, participants set off to make their way back to Manila. For this return leg, I was assigned to drive the top spec 2015 Mobilio 1.5 RS Navi variant.
The Mobilio RS Navi variant is similar to the first vehicle we drove, albeit with the addition of a sporty body kit. In terms of the interior, the thing that sets the RS Navi variant apart is the seven-inch touchscreen with a navigation system.
Being essentially the same vehicle, the performance of the RS Navi variant is basically the same with the Mobilio V. When it comes to the open highway, the 2015 Mobilio RS Navi variant gives you the right amount of power when you want to pass a slower vehicle.
We weren't able to test the fuel economy during the brief drive, but expect us to come out with our official figures when we do the full test drive of the 2015 Mobilio later on.
After the drive, media participants had a dinner with Honda Cars Philippines Inc. President Mr. Toshio Kuwahara. HCPI's President told Autoindustriya.com that the 2015 Mobilio was specifically designed for countries where large, extended families are the norm... such as the Philippines.
Overall, the 2015 Mobilio is a fun MPV to drive due to its nice handling and light steering. With its well-penned exterior design, seating capacity, decent power, Honda's 2015 Mobilio could pose a challenge in the tough compact seven seater segment.
With that, the 2015 Honda Mobilio is certainly a great new choice in the MPV segment for the Filipino family.