Honda’s new seven-seater, the Mobilio, has been getting a lot of attention of late. It’s attractive to look at, very practical, and powered by a set of accomplished engines. The Maruti MPV is very similar in concept to the Honda and it’s the best-selling car of its kind today. The big question is can Honda end the Ertiga’s reign in the MPV segment.
The Ertiga is easily identifiable as a product from Maruti’s stable. The front styling is reminiscent of the Swift and Ritz hatchbacks, with similarly styled swept-back headlamps, grille and bonnet. However, the rear-end design is quite van-like.
The Mobillio looks anything but boring. Move away from the Brio-like front (a chrome bar and new sporty bumper attempt some visual differentiation) and the looks keep getting better. The sides, with the kinks in the window line and the ‘floating’ D pillar, give it a racy look, but it’s the rear that looks best, tail-lights and a smartly designed tailgate.
The Ertiga’s big doors open wide, which makes it easy for occupants to get in and out. However, the middle row seat only slides forward and doesn’t tumble down like in the Mobilio. This makes accessing the third row terribly inconvenient The Mobilio has a lot more knee room than the Ertiga,but with some tactics adjustment of the middle seat, one can create enough space for the legs in the Maruti. Talking about third row seat height, in the Ertiga you have a nice upright seating position and good under thigh support, but in the Mobilio you sit really low with your knees pointing to the roof, which compromises comfort.
In fact, all the Ertiga’s seats feel more comfortable. The cushions feel soft and generous thigh suport, but the Mobilio’s seats don’t feel as plush in comparison.
The Ertiga’s dashboard looks more upmarket than the Mobilio, which now gets a garish and unconvincing mock wood trim treatment. But not to forget that the Mobilio is reproduced from Brio’s (Honda’s entry-level hatchback) platform, while the Ertiga uses the platform of the Swift, which is a segment higher, as a result, it uses components from the Swift, which look more upmarket.
The Mobilio have a lot of storage space compared to Ertiga. It have larger bins and cubbyholes in the cabin, but the luggage area is far bigger too. It’s brilliantly designed too, able to take a couple of not-so-small bags, and a low loading lip makes the job easy. If you have to regularly travel with a full house and luggage, the Mobilio makes more sense.
The Maruti Ertiga’s diesel motor is the 1.3-litre, Fiat-sourced turbo-diesel. It produces max power of 88.7bhp and 20.39kgm of torque, and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. On paper, it seems adequate enough, and for the most part it is. There’s a nice spring in the mid-range that makes overtaking quite easy, and the Ertiga can cruise cross country quite effortlessly. It’s when you have to potter around town or tackle hills that one of the Ertiga’s weakest links is exposed – the lack of engine response at low revs. In fact, with a full load, going uphill, you have to slam the smooth shifting gearbox into first gear pretty often to get the engine spinning above 2,000rpm. Below this point, this engine feels pretty gutless.
The Mobilio, the 1498cc, four-cylinder i-DTEC engine that generates 98.6bhp and 20.4kgm of torque is the Honda MPV’s ace card. It is mated to the Amaze’s five-speed ‘box (and not the City’s six-speeder), but it makes driving pretty effortless. What’s amazing is the wide torque spread, which means there’s enough poke to pull from 1,500rpm to the modest 4,500rpm redline in any gear.
The Ertiga may be a bit too dull to look at on the outside in comparison to the Mobilio, but when you step inside, it’s the Maruti which feels more premium with its well-built and upmarket looking dashboard. Though the Ertiga has a smaller cabin, the comfortable seats and cushier ride give it an edge when it comes to overall comfort. By deftly adjusting the seats, there’s enough room for seven people, but that’s only if your family and friends are of average build. Even the odd tall person may find the interiors cramped, as the leg and knee room can be limited if seven passengers are to be accomodated.
The Ertiga’s 1.3-litre diesel feels laboured at low revs and, as result, the Maruti MPV isn’t as effortless to drive as the Mobilio, which feels like it has a surplus of grunt in comparison. It feels like a bigger car with an airier cabin, a more authoritative ride and far better road presence. In fact, unlike the Ertiga, which is essentially a people carrier, the Mobilio has the image to pass muster as a family car too. It’s estimated to cost around Rs 70,000- 80,000 more than the Ertiga, but for an MPV that offers a fair bit more and delivers that vital bit of status, its worth the premium and is the one we would pick.