Honda Mobilio vs Maruti Ertiga vs Toyota Innova : MPV Shootout

  • Aug 05, 2014
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Indians share a very strong bond within their families. We love the concept of a joint family, we like spending time together, eating together, watching movies together and just about doing every collective activity together.

This collective mindset shows on our roads too, where you see five-seater passenger vehicles being crammed with a family of people as they head towards their next family outing.

This is where the Multi Purpose Vehicle or MPV in short, fit into the Indian automobile market. As seven and eight seater vehicles, these cars allow joint families the joy and convenience of traveling together, something that has been working quite well in our country considering the sales volumes of some of these cars in the market.

Honda has understood the potential of this segment and launched its new Mobilio MPV in India. Priced between Rs. 6.49 lakh to Rs. 10.86 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the new Honda Mobilio is a seven-seater MPV that comes with the Japanese car maker’s trusted badge of reliability, refinement and performance.

But with its relatively high price tag, does the Honda Mobilio have what it takes to stand up against its bestselling rivals in the form of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and the segment leading Toyota Innova?

Read on to know how the Honda Mobilio fares against the highest selling MPVs in the country. Note that the Ertiga used here is the mid-spec VDi version.

Exteriors comparison

Mobilio --> The Honda Mobilio is based on the same platform as the Brio and Amaze compact sedan, as a result the front end of the car is similar to that of the two cars. The Mobilio, Amaze and Brio have identical headlamps, bonnets, A-pillars and windscreens. All three cars can be distinguished by their unique grilles and bumpers. The Mobilio has a large front grille that has a thick strip of chrome running between the headlamps with a large ‘H’ logo placed prominently placed in the centre. The bumper is sculpted towards the centre on either side. The lower section of the bumper has a sporty design with a blacked out central air dam and fog lamp housings, while the side sections are body coloured with angular kinks at the centre that lend a sporty touch.

When viewed from the side, the Mobilio has the exact apron as the Brio with its sharp lines, flared wheel arch and side indicator slot. The outside rear view mirrors are identical too. I have to say though that the overall side profile of the Mobilio is rather sporty for an MPV. The sharp lines on the doors are retained from the Brio and Amaze while a kink in the rear window, the floating D-pillar and a mild design line that flows from the rear door to the bumper gives the Mobilio very contemporary design cues along with the mildly flared rear wheel arch, 15 inch 10 spoke alloy wheels, sharp design lines in the lower section bumper and that angular wrap around tail light. The fact that the glass house of the car has blacked out B and C pillars also lends to the character of the car.


The rear end styling of the Mobilio is very striking too with the angular tail lamps, A shaped rear windscreen, outward slanted top section that looks like a rear spoiler, sharp lines and curves on the tail gate and the sporty lower section that has a black plastic garnish housing reflectors at either end. At the bottom, the bumper has a faux air diffuser in centre and a well sculpted lower section.

The exterior styling of the Mobilio, especially the side and rear profiles do really give the car brownie points when pitted against its competitors as it looks fairly sporty and contemporary.


Ertiga --> The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga on the other hand has very van like proportions. A chunky front bumper with a large air dam in the centre and black plastic fog lamp housing on either side and a protruding lower slip does have a more imposing presence. The front grille is a long feature less unit with horizontal and vertical slats and has the Suzuki logo placed in the centre. The headlights are large triangular swept back units. The bonnet has a mild power dome. Overall, the front profile of the Ertiga is nothing to write home about.

The side profile of the Ertiga has a large glass house with a steeply raked windscreen, although the rear quarter window is a small unit, blacked out B and C pillars lend a nice visual break to the otherwise bland side profile of the car that has mildly flared wheel arches, a kink in the lower section of the doors, the swept back headlamps are clearly visible from the side and so are the wrap around tail lamps. Also, the car we have here is the middle VDi variant, whereas the top-end Z variants get 15 inch multi spoke alloy wheels.

Around the back, the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, more so in this VDi variant is very van like.The MPV has stubby tail lights, large and rather featureless tail gate with the license plate housing in the centre, plain rear window and bland bumper that is only livened by streaks of red in the form of reflectors at either end and a rear fog lamp in the centre. The Z variants with their rear defogger windows and rear wash wipe look a tad more upmarket.

Innova --> The Toyota Innova in its latest avatar has a large gaping front chrome grille that is not to everyone’s taste. And it clearly does not match the sleek headlamp design of the car. The bumper has a faux air dam in the centre and chrome lined fog lamp housings at either end. The bonnet is a rather featureless unit with a very mild power dome. Overall, the current Innova ZX’s front end styling is not as appealing as that of the earlier models or that of the lower end variants which still have the old sleek grille.

The Innova’s side profile is a pleasant one with a raked windscreen, large glass house with blacked out B and C pillars, a rearward sloping roof and 15 inch multi spoke alloy wheels. The body of the car is featureless apart from very mildly flared wheel archs and some stickering and chrome door moldings on this top-end ZX variant.

Moving on to the rear end of the Toyota Innova, it’s fair to say that it’s pleasing to look at. The large rear window has a rear spoiler mounted on top. The large triangular tail lamps connect the rear window to the bumper while a strip of chrome on the tail gate connects the tail lamps with reflectors on either side. The lower section of the rear has a bulge to lend a visual break, and there is another one in the form of the bumper under the tail gate, with reflectors located at either end.

Interior comparison

Mobilio --> Moving on to the interiors, this is where it falls apart for the Honda Mobilio. It has the exact same dashboard as the Honda Brio and Amaze. It’s one thing for a Rs 5 lakh or Rs 7 lakh car to have a certain design and use of trim materials, but in a Rs 10 lakh + car, it just does not cut it. The HVAC controls as always feel low rent and flimsy and the rest of the buttons and switchgear are not worthy of a car at this price point. The panel gap for the glovebox lid is also uneven. The steering wheel feels nice to hold, although a softer texture for the soft touch plastic on the rim would have been better.

The biggest down side of the Honda Mobilio though are the seats. While the front seats provide adequate comfort and the driver’s one comes with height adjust, the second and third row seats have very thin cushions which undoubtedly will make long journeys uncomfortable. The second row has good leg space for occupants and on this top-end V variant, it can be slided back and forth to make more legroom for third row occupants. Under thigh support though is poor for second row occupants.

And if you think this is bad, the third row seats offer absolutely no under thigh support as you can see in the image below. Also, the seat frame of the left second row seats makes it awkward to place your foot in the third row. Because only your backside is in contact with the seat, long journeys or going over broken roads here are bound to uncomfortable due to its ergonomically flawed design and tight legroom.

The double din stereo features USB, AUX and radio connectivity and sound quality is good. The Mobilio’s interiors have been practically designed, the centre console has two cup holders and a cubby hole, all door pads have bottle holders, storage space on the arm rest and next to the bottle holder, the front seats come with seat back pockets, third row occupants also get cup holders and shallow cubby holes on the side arm rests. The Mobilio has a spacious boot though for an MPV of its size with 223 litres on offer, that makes it quite practical. The third row seats can be folded onto the back of the second row seats to make way for a rather capacious boot in which you can also easily fit your family dog.

On the equipment front, the Honda Mobilio V comes with power steering, air conditioning and heating, day/night interior rear view mirror, electrically adjustable ORVMs, roof mounted rear a/c vents, a double-din stereo with four speakers, steering mounted controls, remote central locking, child locks for rear doors, tilt adjustable steering, front power socket, vanity mirrors on sun visors, head lamp off warning, trip computer, rear defogger and wash wipe, rear seat arm rest, front fog lamps, ABS with EBD and dual airbags for front passengers. However it lacks a comprehensive driver information display system with provision for only the fuel economy display.

Ertiga --> The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga comes with dual tone interiors and sliver plastic inserts. In comparison to the Mobilio, the Ertiga’s cabin feels a step up in terms of quality and fit and finish. Everything feels more solid and the switch gear feels more upmarket. The beige colour definitely adds to the airy feel of the cabin.

The seats of the Ertiga are very well cushioned and provide good comfort. Their well-designed contour also provides good back and under thigh support all the way back at the third row as well, making it very comfortable to sit it. The second row can be slided to make more leg room for rear seat occupants – something only present in the V spec Mobilio. As far as I see it, the only glitch here is that the second row has to be slided a tad forward to fold the third row seats forward, hence limiting leg space for the middle row passengers.

In terms of kit, the Ertiga ZDi comes fitted with power steering, power windows all around, day/night interior rear view mirror, electrically adjustable ORVMs, air conditioning and heating, rear defogger and wash wipe, front and rear fog lamps, height adjustable driver’s seat, rear a/c vents, a double din stereo with four speakers and two tweeters, steering mounted controls, remote central locking with drive away locking, front power socket, ABS and EBD with dual front airbags and tilt adjustable steering.

On the practicality front, the Ertiga comes with bottle holders for all four doors with storage spaces alongside, cubby holes in all three rows of arm rests, there is a foldaway cup holder under the front left air vent for the passenger while the driver gets one in the centre console, although there is no place to keep a smart phone then, third row occupants also get cup holders beside the side arm rests. The big rear doors make ingress and egress easy for third row occupants. The big downside of the Maruti Ertiga though is the limited 135 litre boot with all three rows in place. You can’t even fit a full sized suitcase here, just soft bags. This is bound to be a major drawback during those family outings and shopping trips.

Innova --> The Toyota Innova ofcourse is in its own league here. It is the most expensive vehicle here and it shows! There is so much more cabin space here than either of the two cars. Quality of materials used and fit and finish is also superior to the Ertiga and Mobilio. Due to the large glass house, the cabin feels even more spacious. And ofcourse, the Innova is better equipped too.

This top-end Innova ZX comes loaded on the equipment with power steering, power windows, electrically adjustable ORVMs, climate control with vents for all three rows of passengers, day/night interior rear view mirror, front power socket, tilt adjustable steering, height adjustable driver’s seat, a vanity mirror for co passenger, second row bucket seats, remote central locking, a double din touch screen infotainment system, steering mounted audio controls, a driver information display unit, reverse camera, rear defogger and wash wipe.

The infotainment system has DVD, CD, Bluetooth, USB and AUX connectivity, its screen also doubles up as the display for the rear view camera. The system has six speakers and sound quality is decent.

The Innova ZX comes with bucket seats for first and second row occupants. They can be reclines and adjusted to a comfortable posture, all four seats have arm rests and offer adequate leg space. The third row seats offer decent comfort but could have done with more under thigh support, also the head rests need to have softer cushions. The second row seats can be slided forward to make more legroom for third row occupants.

Practicality is enhanced by bottle holders, door pockets and arm rest cubby holes on all four doors, a sun glass holder for the driver, a big storage box under the front centre arm rest and cup and bottle holders for third row occupants. Thanks to its larger dimensions, the Innova also has the largest boot at 300 litres.


Engine and Gearbox comparison

Mobilio --> The new Honda Mobilio diesel is powered by the company’s cutting edge 1.5 litre iDTEC four cylinder engine. It develops 100PS of power @ 3,600 rpm and 200Nm of torque @ 1,750 rpm. This combined with the Mobilio’s kerb weight of 1,246 kg makes the MPV quite responsive to drive with power being well spread from 1,500 rpm up to 3,500 rpm, post which the motor’s punchiness begins to fade.

This diesel engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. This is the exact combination you get in the Honda Amaze diesel as well though ratios have been revised slightly. But Honda has to be commended for improving the powertrain’s refinement. The Mobilio diesel feels considerably more comfortable to drive with a lighter clutch, a much smoother shifting gearbox and Honda has also significantly cut down NVH levels from the engine.

As a result, unlike in the Amaze, you can now truly enjoy the nature of this punchy diesel engine. The Mobilio feels lively to drive, the engine always responds well to throttle inputs and it pulls cleanly to 140 km/h. And the best part about this engine is that despite its performance, the Mobilio has a class leading ARAI fuel efficiency figure of 24.2 km/l, making it India’s most efficient MPV.

Ertiga --> The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga diesel is powered by the famed 1.3 litre MultiJet variable geometry turbo diesel engine sourced from Fiat. In the Ertiga diesel, it develops 90PS of power @ 4,000 rpm and 200Nm of torque @ 1,750 rpm. The engine is the most rev happy of the lot here and combined with its smooth shifting five-speed manual gearbox, the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga diesel is a joy to drive, whether in traffic or out on the highway. The Ertiga diesel also has the lowest NVH levels when compared to the Mobilio and Innova, making it a nice place to be in.

The Ertiga is also the lightest car here with a kerb weight of 1,235 kg. It feels adequately peppy and more so at 2,500 rpm when the turbo kicks in shoots the vehicle forward effortlessly. The engine pulls well to the 170 km/h top speed of the MPV and its refinement really shows when you push the vehicle.

That said, there is a fair amount of turbo lag below 1,500 rpm and will require you to downshift. This also comes into play while driving uphill with a full load of people and luggage as you have to engage first gear often since the engine runs out of steam in higher gears. If however, you live in the metros or on plain terrain, this is not an issue. The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga diesel has an ARAI rated fuel efficiency figure of 20.77 km/l.

Innova ---> The Toyota Innova is the biggest vehicle here and the heaviest at 1,680 kg of kerb weight. It is also powered by the biggest engine here, a 2.5 litre turbo charged and intercooled engine. However, it develops 102PS of power @ 3,600 rpm and 200Nm of torque between 1,200 rpm and 3,600 rpm, which is only 2PS more than the Mobilio here and the torque figure though well spread, is the same as that of the other two MPVs here. The Innova’s weight also reflects in fuel efficiency as the ARAI rated figure is pegged at 12.99 km/l, which is far less than that of its rivals. However, it manages to deliver a respectable 11-12kmpl in typical conditions as against 16 for the Ertiga and over 18 for the Mobilio.

The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that has a light and progressive clutch but does have long travel, something that you can easily get used to. The gear ratios are well matched and the powertrain does not require you to change gears very often. Although, engine does get rather noisy at speeds in excess of 110 km/h and you do wish for a taller ratio or an extra gear that would lower the revs at higher speeds, making for a quieter ride. The engine pulls well to the 160 km/h top speed of the MPV.

The Innova’s powertrain may have its limitations, but you simply cannot ignore the real world driveability of the vehicle. Linear power delivery throughout the rev band and comfortable drive dynamics along with excellent visibility from the high seating position make this a very easy to drive big vehicle. Despite its high NVH levels, thanks to its refinement the Innova feels the most mature vehicle to drive here in most of the driving conditions.

Ride and Handling comparison

Mobilio ---> The Honda Mobilio truly does shine in the ride and handling department. Its McPherson Strut suspension at the front and rear torsion beam layout, coil springs and monocoque chassis gives the MPV a very planted ride. Ride comfort is good in the Mobilio as the vehicle cushions bumps well and is unsettled by them at higher speeds. The only downside is those thin seat cushions that make it uncomfortable for second and third row passengers.

Pin the throttle and take the Mobilio around a corner and the MPV has an impressively flat ride. Such is the confidence it inspires that I found myself taking things up a notch from 120 km/h to 140 km/h around a wide sweeping bend. Apart from a little body roll the Mobilio came out of the corner unfazed, very impressive handling for an MPV I must say. High speed straight line stability of the Mobilio is also very good.

The front disc and rear drum brake setup comes with anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution as standard. They provide good bite and the ABS kicks in late, providing good braking stability. With a minimum turning radius of 5.4 meters (5.2 for petrol) the Mobilio is easy to maneuver and park.

Ertiga --> The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga has a similar setup with its monocoque chassis, McPherson Strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension with coil springs at all four corners. The Ertiga too has a comfortable ride over broken roads, that is further enhanced by those comfortable seats. The soft suspension does result in a bouncy ride at higher speeds over broken roads.

Around the corners, the taller height of the Ertiga does result in more body roll than the Mobilio, but its not unmanageable and its well weighed steering does give you confidence. However, at parking speeds and during slow speed commutes, you do notice the relatively heavier steering. The Ertiga too has a minimum turning radius of 5.2 meters.

Innova --> Unlike its smaller rivals, the Toyota Innova has a ladder frame chassis and is rear wheel drive. But its C on C setup gives the MPV very good handling traits. Apart from some controlled body roll around corners the Innova despite its large dimensions has sedan like confident handling traits that comes very close to the Mobilio’s excellent handling dynamics.

Underpinned by an independent double wishbone suspension setup upfront and a non-independent four-link suspension setup at the rear, this combined with its low center of gravity gives the Innova very positive road manners. The car cushions its occupants well, although sharp bumps are felt by second and third row occupants. There is no heaving and pitching at speeds over wavy roads, making the ride very comfortable indeed over long journeys. The Innova also comes with the widest tyres here, the 205/65 R15 section always provide adequate traction at all times. These combined with the disc brakes at the front and drum brake with the ABS kicking in only under heavy braking.

The Innova’s high speed stability is impressive and road undulations are dismissed with ease and if you are looking to do a lot of long distance travel with seven people, this is your mode of transport. And despite its large dimensions, it’s quite easy to drive and park the Innova in tight urban conditions, it’s minimum turning radius of 5.4 meters is also helpful and is only marginally more than that of its smaller rivals.


Safety comparison

The diesel Honda Mobilio comes fitted with ABS and EBD as standard, this is much appreciated especially for a people mover of its size. It would have been even better, had Honda offered the same for the all petrol variants too as only the top end V spec petrol model gets ABS and EBD. Airbags are available only on the top-end V and RS variant. Speed sensitive door lock function is only offered on the RS version and this is quite a surprise!

The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga only gets ABS with EBD as standard on the top-end Z variants while they are optional on the V spec variants. Airbags like the Mobilio are available only on the Z variants.

The Toyota Innova offers the most safety features as standard with ABS and a driver airbag as standard on all variants. The VX and ZX variants get a front passenger airbag as well.



The Honda Mobilio is a good addition to the Indian MPV market without a doubt. It comes with the best powertrain that offers the best of both worlds in terms of performance and efficiency. It handles very well and has a comfortable ride. On the downside, the second and third row seats are very thin and uncomfortable, there is limited legroom for third row occupants in anything but the top end variants.

Nevertheless, it is practical and offers a spacious boot. Also, being a Honda, it will get a lot of trusty customers who will enjoy the vehicles excellent drive dynamics. And you simply cannot ignore the fact that it is the most fuel efficiency vehicle here.

The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga has its fair share of advantages. It is more comfortable for occupants than the Mobilio but not as nice to drive and has a very tiny boot. The solution to this is to attach a roof box or rack to improve luggage carrying ability during those long trips. It is also not as engaging to drive as the Mobilio but offers good drive dynamics and decent efficiency otherwise.

One of the biggest advantages of the Ertiga though is the fact that it is considerably more affordable than the Mobilio with a price gap of over Rs. 1 lakh between the mid and top variants. And when you factor in the discounts being offered by Maruti Suzuki, for most buyers it will be the obvious choice. Also, being a Maruti Suzuki it will have the lowest running costs as compared to its rivals and will have better accessibility to service centres no matter where you live.


The Toyota Innova is considerably more expensive than the Ertiga and even the Mobilio, with only the top end Honda Mobilio RS coming into the Innova G variant’s price territory.

The Innova though is in its own league. It offers much more cabin space, more comfortable seats, ride quality and it offers much more equipment than its rivals. The downside of the Innova is high NVH levels and low fuel efficiency.

That said, the Toyota Innova is not the country’s favourite MPV for no reason. It has impeccable reliability and is built very well. Innova’s with lakhs of kilometers on the odometer run in good condition and the vehicle has a very long life span.

To sum it up, the new comer from Honda packs in a lot of punch but only if it had been slightly more affordable, we would have been more than happy to place it one level above the Ertiga. At the current prices, it just about manages to edge past the Maruti offering on an overall basis.

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