Come summer, and the idea on everyone's mind is to head to a cool getaway far from the sweltering heat of the plains. Our family (including a mix of the young and the old) was set for an exciting weekend but two basic questions still needed to be answered — where to go, and how we planned to reach there. Since we only had three days, we couldn't stretch it too far. We were in Delhi, therefore Uttarakhand scored over Himachal Pradesh, and finally narrowed down on Landour, a small cantonment town next to Mussoorie, now famous as the home of the much celebrated author Ruskin Bond, who celebrated his 82nd birthday last month. Thanks to Honda, the Mobilio RS became our choice vehicle for the weekend. While my wife and her family were looking forward to the quaint hill station, I was keener on knowing how Honda's seven-seater would perform in terms of drive, comfort and of course mileage.
The RS or race sport is a more stylish version of this MUV which offers a little more bling in terms of design and features. Sporty alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and a lot of chrome that can be seen on door handles, rear bumper and fog lamps differentiates the RS from the Mobilio. A nicely designed front grille and projector headlamps with LEDs also enhance the aesthetic appeal of this car. Recently, the Japanese carmaker also added a satellite navigation system and a rear parking camera to the car, and both features proved to be very useful on this trip. The almost 300 km journey through Western Uttar Pradesh was a mix of good, very good and dismal roads. (The National Highway 58 that connects Delhi to Haridwar is still being rebuilt into a four-lane expressway and apart from a brilliant patch between Meerut and Muzaffarnagar, it is still under construction.) The first 100 km out of the national capital are a nuisance with a broken, narrow path parading as a national highway.
The bad roads and the scorching summer sun were the first real tests for the Mobilio. The car is more than capable of taking bumps and potholes head-on, and even if you miss one and end up flying over it, the impact is minimal. The air-conditioner cools well, and Honda has provided individual vents for all rows, an added benefit for the car's passengers. (However, the blower at full blast makes way too much sound than is comfortable.) Mobilio's seats are built for comfort but the car's width works against it. Measuring in at about 1,683 mm and that is just about adequate for three people but may not be the ideal case scenario for a long journey. The third row can seat adults comfortably but it's not suited for three occupants — two are just about fine. The third row can also be folded to create a larger luggage space.
The car is more than capable of taking bumps and potholes head-on, and even if you miss one and end up flying over it, the impact is minimal. The air-conditioner cools well, and Honda has provided individual vents for all rows.
The Mobilio runs on the same 1.5 litre iDtec engine that has been used in both Honda City and the Amaze. With the added weight of Mobilio, you feel the difference if you drive this one right after the relatively lighter Amaze. However, having said that, the Mobilio manages to hold its own.
Honda claims a mileage of about 24.6 kmpl on this diesel variant and even in a real world scenario the car managed to return about 18 kmpl on the highway. Mobilio made the drive up the hills from Dehradun to Mussoorie with the setting sun in the background enjoyable. The 100 PS on the engine even with the entire luggage, occupants and a running air conditioner was able to negotiate the climb with ease. Contributing to that is a very impressive torque figure of 200 Nm that makes the Mobilio a good choice of wheels when you're heading to the mountains. Safety features such as ABS and dual airbags surely make this seven-seater a secure car. Honda is offering all this for about Rs 11.5 lakh.
In terms of utility, the Mobilio is a great car to own. It's got a lot of storage space between all the rows. The six-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use with all its features; however the quality of touch could have been a shade better. The satellite navigation is a big advantage for the driver; I was impressed both by its promptness as well as accuracy. Mobilio felt at home in a hill station, with narrow roads to negotiate along with steep inclines at awkward angles. The good turning radius and the rear parking camera are useful aids you could do with when visiting such places. Of course when you reach finally the charm of this beautiful hill station is best explored on foot and that is exactly what we did as we let the Mobilio RS take some well deserved rest.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.