With physical space, fuel, and vehicle prices now much more costly this 2018, the B-segment MPV is slowly becoming a more appealing option over the large, bulky, and pricey seven-seater SUVs or C-segment MPVs. It's now a crowded market, too, thanks to new entries in 2017 and even more to follow this year.
After getting to test the top-of-the-range Honda Mobilio RS a few months ago, it's now the turn of the more sensible V. Is it more practical to own despite losing several features from the RS? Let's take a closer look.
Perhaps the most obvious change seen on the refreshed Mobilio is at the front. No longer does it share its face with the Brio as it now comes with its own unique design. Unlike the Brio's sporty look, the Mobilio features a more mature face which actually suits the MPV well. The new Solid Wing Face grill, tapered headlights and reshaped front bumper give the 2018 Mobilio its own identity. The updated Mobilio also looks fresh and contemporary without being too aggressive in my opinion.
If the front gets a major redesign, the rear and side sections of the 2018 Mobilio relatively remains the same. While Honda could have done more to change the Mobilio's appearance (particularly at the rear), it still looks fine as it is. However, I do like the new 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels that feature a directional design.
Remember when the pre-facelift Mobilio also shared its interior with the Brio? Well the 2018 model now comes with a new look borrowed from the the City / Jazz. From the instrument panel, dashboard and center console, the refreshed Mobilio offers a more upscale interior than its predecessor.
There was still plenty of hard plastic surrounding the updated Mobilio but at least it's the kind that can withstand everyday use. Also nice to see are the neat touches of faux metal trim found throughout the cabin and the gloss black plastic on the infotainment system.
Speaking of infotainment, the 2018 model refresh now comes with a sleeker touchscreeen infotainment operating system. It replaces the older 2-DIN sound system and supports AM/FM radio, Bluetooth and USB. Also new is the digital air-conditioning system which replaces the analog-style control knobs.
Like the pre-updated version, there was plenty of space inside the Mobilio. Both the front and second-row seats offer generous headroom, elbowroom and legroom. As for the third-row seats, there was substantial space, but again, it's mostly for kids or young adults. With my 5'7" frame, I was able to fit myself at the very back just fine. Should you have taller passengers, the second-row seats can be slid forward to provide additional space at the third-row.
Under the hood, the 2018 Mobilio is powered by Honda’s well-known 1.5-liter L15Z1 inline-four with i-VTEC. It musters 120 PS at 6600 rpm along with 145 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. Power is then sent to the front wheels via an Earth Dreams-developed continuously variable transmission (CVT).
While most might scoff at the Mobilio for having only a 1.5-liter motor, do remember that it is the most powerful B-segment MPV in its class, beating out both the Toyota Avanza's 1.5 and Ertiga's 1.4 mills (Kia Carens, Chevrolet Spin and Nissan Grand Livina have all been discontinued).
Bury your right foot on the accelerator and there is some punch from the tiny 1.5. It picks up the pace quick and does not feel strained under heavy load. The CVT is finely tuned with the powertrain and can switch between economy and spirited driving depending on the driver’s input. You can even set the CVT to 'Sport Mode' which ups the ante a bit and makes throttle response that much sharper. Sadly it does not come with paddle shifters as those are only available on the range-topping RS.
When you're finished traveling the highways and expressways, the Mobilio relaxes into a sedate urban runaround. Around light city traffic, the Mobilio was able to deliver a relatively smooth drive.
With just me in the Mobilio, the MPV was able to average between 9.0 - 10.0 km/l in light city traffic. On the highway, the Mobilio averaged between 16.0 – 16.5 km/l. However, if you’re carrying additional passengers, expect average fuel consumption to drop to around 7.5 km/l and 14.0 km/l respectively.
As far as handling is concerned, the Mobilio is quite nimble despite being one of the longest in its segment. Thanks to its Brio-derived platform, it allowed the MPV to dart around corners easily. Its steering is also sharp and precise thanks to an electronic power steering (EPS) system. However, like most EPS systems from Honda, it lacked feedback as the system delivered a rather numb feel.
As for ride quality, it's not the most comfortable MPV out there, but it's also not the harshest. As it still shares its platform with the Brio, it tends to be bouncy when faced with rutted streets and pock-marked roads. Also, better Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) deadening could have been done to improve overall ride comfort.
Retailing for Php 948,000 (with the new excise tax price), the 2018 Mobilio is pricier than its predecessor but it does come with several new features that give it more bang for buck. What's more is that it still comes with anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, keyless entry, speed-sensing door locks and dual front airbags. What I found disappointing however is that it lacks vehicle stability assist (VSA) and hill-start assist (HSA). Those two safety features can only be found on the range-topping RS, along with the reverse camera.
So it loses some key features as well as the RS bodykit, but at less than Php 1 million, the Mobilio is still a relatively good buy. I just wish that they kept most of the other safety kit as standard instead of making them available only on the top-of-the-line offering.
If an SUV is too tall and a van is too big, the Mobilio MPV can make for a good alternative.