• Two spec levels: Trend and Comfort
• Both have 'comfort, convenience'
• Honda’s 1.5, 88kW, i-VTEC engine
CAPE TOWN - Most of us in South Africa are tightening our purse strings – especially when it comes to family mobility. ‘Downsizing’ is no longer something we pretend we’re not doing – saving a few bucks at Pick & Spend is becoming a matter of pride.
A good thing is that it’s taken the snobbery out of what, wheels-wise, you store in your garage – of which now, like me, you probably only have a single. And it’s probably part-packed with stuff you had over when you downsized from your previous house.
GALLERY: 2014 Honda Mobilio
But regarding personal transport… big is bad (unless you work for the government), small is good and the less fuel used, the better. Even so, as cars have shrunk dimensionally so their makers have become expert at adding value, cabin stuff and – in the case of this new Honda – seats and versatility.
Where once you just bought a car, now you buy three for the price of one: family car, small station-wagon and the equivalent of a modest panel van. Honda’s one such is the Mobilio, just launched in South Africa and designed for countries such as South Africa.
NOT FOR EUROPE
How so? Well, it’s assembled in India and its primary markets are there and eastward – south-east Asia where, outside the cities, roads are of the quality for which eight of our nine provinces seem to be aiming - pot-holed and poor.
The point is made when I tell you that the Mobilio will not be sold in Europe, where the roads are First World.
VIDEO: 2014 Honda Mobilio
Honda India is assembling rugged vehicles whose specialties are a higher-than-usual ground clearance (189mm), 5.5m turning circle and a less than 4.4m long body that’s1.63mm wide – and a variation on seat layout. Indian and Far Eastern families tend to be large so the Mobilio has seven seats. Well, three rows that claim to be 2-3-2 (each with a seat belt) but the middle one in Row 2 will really only fit a youngster.
That’s perhaps made up for by the middle row’s ability to slide fore/aft.
Let’s call it six-and-a-half, then. It doesn’t, however, come with the Western World’s de rigueur IsoFix child-seat anchors. Some might feel that’s a minus but Honda SA’s Graham Eagle reckons seat belts do a good job as quick-release anchors.
CVT GEARBOX ON THE WAY
Seat-backs are, if not thin, then slim, but that’s a trend even in more expensive vehicles to increase rear-seat legroom. None of the Mobilio seats is short of legroom, though the rear two will be more comfortable for smaller folk or youngsters – and that is, after all, probably why a normal family will want a six-and-a-half seater.
Talking expense, let’s get prices out of the way (each has a five-speed manual gearbox; CVT expected January 2015):
Honda Mobilio 1.5 Trend - R179 990
Honda Mobilio 1.5 Comfort - R198 990
...each sold with a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a year’s AA roadside assistance. The Comfort’s price includes a two-year or 30 000km service plan. Service intervals 15 000km.
All four-and-a-half rear seats fold and tumble without fuss so if you want to buy a small fridge (second-hand is a money-saver!) you’ll be able to haul it home, no problem. Row 2 has to tumble to allow access to Row 3 and Honda has thoughtfully made the rear doors larger than usual to make things even easier.
Don’t ask Granny to get in there, though…
Eagle was frank about the 1.5 Trend: he doesn’t see it as a big seller for families, more the commercial market because it lacks luxuries most new-car buyers now see as ‘standard’. Such as a sound system.
STEEL RIMS, FAT TYRES
The Comfort version, however, is well-equipped (see linked lists), which fits with Honda’s usual standard of sophistication. The Mobilio is, after all, running on the same all-new platform and with the same 1.5-litre, quad-valve, four-cylinder, 88kW (at 6600rpm) / 145Nm (at 4600rpm) i-VTEC engine as Honda’s Ballade, new Brio and the new Jazz, a model due in SA in January or February 2015.
Fuel-consumption is listed by Honda as 6.1 litres/100km, 0-100 in 10.8sec (as if it matters these days). Much more important is that the steel rims are shod with 185/65 radials.
Oddments stowage includes three cup-holders, four bottle holders and a lidded glove box. Central locking is standard (key on the Trend, fob on the Comfort), four power windows, height-adjustable headlights and tilt-adjustable steering wheel.
Brakes (disc front/drum rear) are anti-lock with electronic pressure distribution; there are two front air bags, inertia reel belts for all but the second-row middle passenger (lap belt) and head-restrains on all seats.
UNDER-BODY FUEL TANK
The Mobilio 1.5 Comfort adds colour-coded door releases, exterior mirrors and mud/stone flaps outside; the cabin gets chromed air-vent rings, and metallic finishes for the door releases, gear-shifter and steering-wheel. The centre stack is fitted with an MP3-compatible CD/radio receiver that includes USB and auxiliary inputs and audio controls on the steering wheel.
It also adds aircon (with separate roof-mounted vents for rear occupants), remote central locking, power exterior mirrors, a rear screen-wiper and a 12V accessory socket in the centre console.
The 40-litre fuel tank is slung under the centre of the car to free-up space for the rear rear seats and a few days’ shopping – 223 litres with all seats in place, 521 litres (to window height) with all rear seats tumble and folded.
Wheels24 did not have an opportunity to drive the Mobilio at launch, but will be getting it to test soon.
For more information and deals, go to Honda SA.