While Graham Eagle, operations director for Honda Motor Southern Africa, told a recent media briefing that the hot-as-hell new-generation Type R will be coming to South Africa only in the third quarter of next year — and threw in some impressive figures as a sweetener — we were there for the launch of the more sobering Mobilio.
Honda have 20 years of multipurpose vehicle (MPV) history and this is their first offering in this category since the FR-V. It’s a hard-sell segment, with the popularity of SUVs shining brighter than ever and South African motorists buying into the sporty image these vehicles often provide. MPVs, on the other hand, have the tag of being a ‘‘mom’s vehicle’’ — and with good reason.
It’s about things such as practicality, spaciousness and versatility, and is often promoted as a solution to the challenges of family-friendly motoring. The Mobilio possesses all those elements but looking at it — and that’s all we did as we didn’t get to take it for a spin — it’s hardly going to put a motorist’s heartbeat into overdrive. Its big selling point is that it is a seven-seater, with three rows of seats that fold, flip and adjust, with a number of combinations, to suit the number of people you need to accommodate.
I hopped into the front passenger seat and there was plenty of legroom. But a look at the second and third rows, when in position, and things are more cramped. But I guess if the passengers sitting back there are youngsters, not oversized journalists, there will be lots of leg room. The Mobilio is offered in two trim levels — Trend (R179 990) and Comfort (R198990). Setting the two apart is that for the extra R19000, the Comfort gives you things such as colour-coded door handles and exterior mirrors, mud flaps, you things such as colour-coded door handles and exterior mirrors, mud flaps, chromed air vent rings, a MP3-compatible CD player that includes USB and auxiliary inputs, plus audio controls on the steering wheel.
Other goodies in the Comfort include air-conditioning (separate vents for rear passengers), remote central locking, rear screen wiper, 12V socket for charging and electric side mirrors. It is hard to judge a vehicle without spending a bit of time behind its wheel, but the Mobilio appears to come with a comprehensive list of features — some also found in the Trend — and the materials are standard for this type of vehicle.
That said, it also looks like a vehicle where functionalism trumps individualism and excitement. Perhaps I’ll wait for the Type R for that. The Mobilio comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty and a two-year/30 000km service plan.
Engine: 1 497cc four-cylinder 16-valve
Power: 88kW at 6 600rpm
Torque: 145Nm at 4 600rpm
0-100km/h: 10.8 seconds
Top speed: 140km/h
Price: Trend R179 990; Comfort R198 990