Nov 28 — Chances are strong that Honda Malaysia will bringing in its new Honda Mobilio to the local market. Based on the Honda Brio platform, the Mobilio will have a 1.5 litre i-Vtec engine and CVT transmission.
The Honda Mobilio is designed for the Indonesian market and will be a direct competitor to the Toyota Avanza and the Perodua Alza in Malaysia. In Indonesia, this segment is the best selling segment, and over there, it is dominated by the Toyota Avanza.
The Honda Mobilio prototype was unveiled at the Indonesia International Motor Show on September 19, 2013. Honda developed this vehicle based on its research conducted in Indonesia based on local road and weather conditions, and customer needs. The Mobilio comes with three rows of seats, and can seat seven, yet is compact in size.
Although it is a n-MPV, the Mobilio looks more like an elongated hatch, and the rearmost seats can fold away to provide generous storage space at the back.
At the recent Tokyo Motor Show, Asian journalists were treated to a preview and short test drive in the Mobilio. The 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine is possibly the same engine found in the City, and the transmission is a newly-developed CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) for smaller vehicles. Compared to conventional CVT's, the new unit carries Honda's Earth Dreams technology, and the shift characteristics enable it to hold higher gears for prolonged periods.
Aesthetically, the Mobilio is quite an attractive-looking vehicle, with a car-like front, and a tailgate at the rear. The rear end does tend to ride a little high, but I suppose that is to cater for the road conditions and the expected loads in Indonesia. Hopefully, if the Mobilio is coming to Malaysia, Honda will consider the fact that the application for such a vehicle here would be more of people mover instead of goods carrying. Inside, the fittings are pretty high quality, but some of the panels are still in pre-production trim, which is why we were not allowed to snap too many pictures of the interior.
It drives quite well though, having reasonably good acceleration, and decent handling — but it was a very short test drive covering a distance of slightly under two kilometres, so you will have to take it at this level.
According to Honda Malaysia, whether the Mobilio makes it here or not will depend on the retail price. However, if it is made to combat the Avanza in Indonesia, it stands to reason the price will be quite similar; again, one must bear in mind that prices have escalated since the Avanza's first launch here about eight years ago, and it may already be overpriced.