Honda and Nissan unveil new people-carriers designed primarily for Indonesia
Honda Mobilio aims its gun at the Toyota Avanza.
Is that an MPV version of the Brio?
You could say so, judging from the same face it shares with the Brio hatchback and Brio Amaze saloon. But what Honda dubs it instead is the Mobilio Prototype, which debuted at the Indonesian motor show last week.
Honda says this is the first model to be introduced in the lower-priced MPV category, which is the best-selling category in the automobile market in Indonesia. It developed the Mobilio based on research conducted in our Asean neighbour regarding local road and weather conditions, and customer needs.
To lock horns with the Avanza?
That's right, and that's why Honda is talking about a sufficient ground clearance of 185mm in the Mobilio. Likewise, the Toyota Avanza has an unusually high-riding position for an MPV so that it can cope with poor road conditions in rural Indonesia. Honda adds that the Mobilio is 4.4m long and is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine.
Will it replace the Freed?
Honda hasn't mentioned anything about that. But there are many good reasons to think it will. As just mentioned, the Mobilio has a similarly sized engine and seven-seat body as the Freed, which is now reaching the end of its lifecycle after being in production for five years.
The only different feature in the Mobilio is the conventionally hinged rear doors compared to the Freed's expensive-to-make sliding portals. And considering that the Freed is the dearest car in its class (the others including the Chevrolet Spin and Suzuki Ertiga), there's a good chance that the Freed may be discontinued _ unless it gets a bigger engine and body in all-new form.
Interestingly, the Mobilio name was once used for Honda's entry-level MPV before the Freed came into being.
Hmm... and what's with that Datsun?
The Go+ is merely the MPV version of the Go hatchback, a no-frills city car mainly developed for emerging markets like India and Indonesia. Actually, the Go+ has also been launched at the Indonesian car show, as well.
Nissan, the owner of rejuvenated Datsun, hopes that its low-cost brand will account for more than 50% of total sales in Indonesia by 2016.
Any chance of Datsun coming here?
Considering how the products are tailored, unlikely. Both the Go and Go+ share the same 1.2-litre petrol engine and five-speed manual gearbox.
Let's not forget that Thais are choosier than their Indonesian counterparts. This means that if Datsun is to be reborn in the Thai market, their cars would need higher grade interiors and automatic gearbox options. And that's a task already taken up by Nissan itself.
Both the Mobilio and Go+ land in Indonesian showrooms early next year.
Datsun Go+ is dubbed a 5+2 mini-MPV.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor