New Mobilio, Jazz and City: Honda keeps it fresh


Noriyuki Takakura, Honda Cars PH president and general manager. Photos by Ardie O. Lopez

There are several constants in the wide set of choices of automobiles out there in the market, and if you’ll take a macro point of view of it, it’s quite apparent.

There’s a brand that rolls out a fairly affordable, reliable set of models; another that’s innovative when it comes to auto tech; one that’s out of reach for like 98 percent of the market in terms of cost; another that provides a sense of uncertainty for those who’ve taken chances at buying from them, and so forth.

Honda, I believe, has constantly produced cars that have been reliable, handle well, and are a source of satisfaction that’s well above average.

Since sub-compacts have become the most sellable category of cars in the last few years, Honda’s selection has considerably expanded—with a sedan, hatchback, crossover, or even a sub-compact SUV (depending on how you see the BR-V).

The Jazz has always been a favorite for its sporty and tight handling, in addition to a hatch configuration offering flexible loading space—not to mention its look that’s already sharp but fun and easy to modify.

The Mobilio offers a more contemporary package in terms of its usability as a 7-seater sub-compact MPV.

The City, an alternative to the hugely popular Vios, has a more premium feel and styling that’s characteristically Honda.

The Mobilio, which is considerably younger in terms of its introduction in the country, offers a more contemporary package in terms of its usability as a 7-seater sub-compact MPV.

So except for the latest nameplate Honda rolled out, the BR-V, the Japanese giant’s sub-compacts have been refreshed and reintroduced to a still growing market.

As 2018 models, the Honda Jazz, City and Mobilio have all gone through considerable facelifts, with interior updates to complement them.

Motoring journalists had the privilege of driving them extensively to Baguio and back from Manila.

All three nameplates are powered by the tried-and-tested 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC gasoline engine that produces 120 ps and 14.8 kg/m.

While it’s a single engine type that resides under the hood (with variations in transmission options), the power and handling characteristics varied, even if the three nameplates are of three different configurations.

The City has a bit more of a premium feel and styling that’s characteristically Honda.

I’m a bit partial towards the Jazz, being the best among the trio in terms of handling. It’s the perfect match for the 1.5-liter iVTEC engine in terms of balance and weight distribution.

It just feels more planted, and slightly more maneuverable than the City, and how better to test that than negotiating the seemingly endless twists and curves of Kennon Road in varying gradients on a brisk pace, made more interesting with obligatory overtaking maneuvers to keep the convoy together.

The City was a close second. Steering feel was spot on and very predictable. Nipping those apexes while maintaining a smooth driving line was a cinch, with ample power to boot.

For a continuous drive that was roughly five hours long, the clean and well-designed dash and control panel are actually a boon, keeping some driving aspects as “zen” as possible.

The Jazz has always been a favorite for its sporty and tight handling.

The City’s seats were comfortable, although I just noticed that among the three nameplates, it was the least luxurious.

Aesthetic upgrades on all three Hondas are significant and impressive, although the Mobilio takes the cake.

I guess because its predecessor was the one that looked the least inspired, this was turned completely around with the new Mobilio’s somewhat aggressive styling.

Going up on Kennon Road though, the shortcoming in terms of power became apparent—the signature Honda handling was there, but to keep pace with the convoy, I was treating the throttle like an on-off switch, toggling between flooring it completely and letting off.

Understandably, the climb was challenging, but had our 7-seat capacity been filled up, we wouldn’t have fared pretty well. It would earn higher marks as a people-moving flexible city dweller, as it was packaged to be.

“What works can definitely be made better.”

All in all, with the Garmin-sourced navigation system we effectively utilized via the crisp 7-inch LCD displays (present on the top RS and CVT-equipped variants of the three nameplates), we summed up the road trip experience with the new Jazz, City and Mobilio as exceptionally enjoyable.

The old adage about not needing to fix what isn’t broken can be skewed to “what works can definitely be made better” when it comes to this refreshed Honda trio.

With the upcoming arrival of a diesel-powered CR-V, and the major stir created by the extremely covetable all-new Civic Type R, Honda’s definitely going through very exciting times.

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