Fifth Generation Acura Integra Will Have Manual Transmission

Another out of nowhere news! After revealing the electric future of the brand, Honda biggest reveal so far in 2021 is not only that the Integra nameplate coming back in the United States, it will also be offered in Manual transmission.

This news is such a huge revelation because the US automotive market leans heavily on automatic transmission. According to carmax.com, a car retailer giant in the United States, they only sells 2.4% of cars with manual transmission in 2020, down from around 3% in 2019.

The Acura Integra will be a heavily redesigned 11th generation Civic, starkly different than the guised up Civic of the Chinese domestic market Integra model that’s just recently announced this year as well.

The Chinese domestic market Integra is simply a slightly redesigned 11th generation Civic with revised front end and slight change on the rear end. The Acura Integra however will be a clean design with zero similarity with the Civic. First of all, the Acura Integra will be a lift back and it will adopt Acura diamond pentagon grille design with aggressive headlight.

Integra official teaser image
Integra official teaser image

Some have pointed out that the Acura Integra will be an upmarket Civic Type R, with it, the expectation that the car will be automatic only. Apparently from Acura official reveal of the manual option video, the Integra will bring back the glorious family feud of the 1990’s where it will go head to head with the Civic.

Astute viewer will notice that the engine note from the video is similar to the current Civic Type R, lower redline than the old K24, K20 and B18. Apparently it will be using the same turbocharged engine as the Civic Type R. There are rumors that the Integra will have some sort of hybridization, with electric motor driving the rear wheels, well, apparently it is just that, a rumor. The Integra sounds like a legit driver’s car from the teaser video, perhaps the Integra Type-S will have more surprise coming down the line… But until then, Honda is bringing back the 1990s nostalgia hard!

Honda e:N previews the future of Honda electric cars

In a strike out of nowhere (or maybe I’ve been out of the loop), Honda just released Honda e:N electric cars video showcase on youtube, headlined by e:N P1 and e:n S1.

e:N SUV, GT, Coupe concepts

Honda showcases the principle and story behind the new brand. e:N stands for electric/energize and next/new, headlining Honda future cars. The name is simple as is, well, it’s just two words, e and n, it likens to VW ID or Mercedes EQ electric car lineup, so Honda e:N doesn’t fall far from the weirdness of the future.

Honda e:N P1

Honda China headlined the e:N series with the e:N P1 and e:N S1, obviously taking second generation Honda HR-V platform, replacing the whole fuel tank with battery pack and replacing the engine with electric motor. It is still under prototype form running testing, there’s no immediate release date, but safe to say it will be available in China around 2022.

The showcase of all is the announcement of three e:N concepts, the SUV, the GT and and the coupe concept all in glorious animation. All three will have a mix of e:N platform showing the scalability of the system. Honda called it the e:N architecture, with three variations, the e:N architecture F and e:N architecture W. The architecture F will be a front wheel drive system while the architecture W will have two variation, the two motors all wheel drive and the one motor rear wheel drive. The architecture F is probably the most common solution for Honda e:N products, while the architecture W AWD version for huge sedans and SUV. The architecture W RWD on the other hand is interesting. Honda could make a sports car with the architecture W RWD akin to Porsche as basically the system is a facsimile of a rear engine rear wheel drive car. Perhaps architecture W RWD will be powering the e:N coupe concept.

the e:N concepts all features angular lines that is very retro futuristic looking. It might have some design cues from Tesla truck, but it is distinctively unique. Honda China claims the design comes from the Chinese team, and I have to take my hats off to them, it is a simple, and guaranteed future classics. The clean lines differs from the organic lines from competing electric car brands such as Mercedes, Tesla, Lucid and VW. If the e:N concepts translates all the lines to production, it will be a stand out among its peers. To further emphasize the distinctness of the design, the headlights resembles a stylized H on all of the concepts.

Honda didn’t divulge further info as of this writing (it’s only 2 hours after the e:N Honda youtube video went live when I write this), but I’m very liking what I see so far. Honda is quite late to the electric car game, here’s hoping Honda will bring another option in the electric car market.

For more videos and details in Chinese, go to the link below.

Honda China Honda EN landing page

Honda EN Youtube video showcase

Well, it’s a BR-V after all

So that was… Strange… After all the smoke has cleared, the N7X becomes… BR-V. Why not just say it from the get got? Why the parade across the country, teasing the car to potential buyers? It feels there are few unnecessary steps in introducing the second generation BR-V.

Or is it?

Obviously the confusion about the BR-V got a code name for its second generation reveal is weird, but in hindsight I understand the idea. The first generation BR-V was never received favorably everywhere it’s introduced. The link between the BR-V and Mobilio even though only skin deep, a lot of people think that both are the same car. Both cars are structurally different, they have separate problems. For example, the BR-V is notorious for eating CV joint, while the Mobilio is not.

The problem lies in Honda experimenting in economies of scope on creating their car. the Mobilio and BR-V has different face and rear, but they both shares the same front glass, the same door and window panes, the same dashboard and the same seat structure. Even though the body is similar the BR-V has higher ceiling thus larger interior space, overall, the car looks the same. Is it wrong for Honda to do that? Obviously not, Honda needs to make money, as the alternative is market domination by Toyota group and thus monopoly when they have achieved it, and that is very bad.

The only logical thing that Honda Indonesia is doing all the charade for BR-V second generation is simply to relaunch the marque. Thinking back, registering a new name for an automotive product is difficult, and launching a campaign to familiarize the market for a new product is also difficult. The tease and code name is basically Honda Indonesia way of reintroducing BR-V to the market. In Europe and North America, renewing a marriage vow is common, it’s totally unnecessary, but it shows a commitment from both party. Some marriage vow renewal ceremony is even more festive than the original wedding party, and looks like Honda Indonesia is doing the same thing for BR-V. To let the market that Honda is serious and this time they will not repeat the same mistake.

Do remember though, Honda is not veering from the economy of scope, no no no no no no. They are still doing it, but it seems they are doing it right this time around. The N5X is coming, obviously a 2 row BR-V, which most likely be 2nd gen BR-V with its rear portion cut and different fascia (most likely cheaper headlight, different bumper) but retain everything from the overall shape, doors, and interior. Positioned exactly to fight Raize – Rocky duo.

Like in my previous post, Honda is doing it right this time around. The economy of scope experiment started with Brio, followed by Mobilio and finally BR-V. The similarity and timeline from those three cars created a correlation that all three cars are related, and although not wrong, it created story that BR-V comes from the Brio, a cheap car. This time, the N7X is the headliner, the causa prima, and every subsequent product is born from the line, a premium car.

I always teach my students about the importance of semantics and its relation to process. In our language, there’s two terms for ice tea, “teh es” (tea ice) and “es teh” (ice tea), we ask the drink with both term and it will be fine… But process wise saying the other will net different results. “teh es” is when you put tea first inside the glass and then you put the ice, making the tea thicker and less cold, especially if the tea is hot. “es teh” is when you fill the glass with ice then you put the tea, making a very cold drink but thinner tea. The same thing happened with second generation BR-V… Semantics.

Why It’s Called N7X and not Honda BR-V?

For a car that’s going to be launched in just 4 months in Indonesia, the N7X is quite an oddity. First, it carries the concept nomenclature, which according to Honda own history means something that is under design study, however the N7X looks production ready. Also, the name most likely a codename for something, as it breaks Honda own naming scheme in the region.

Obviously the media is pointing that this is the second generation BR-V, yet why not just call the N7X a preview for the second generation BR-V?

Well ladies and gents, because the BR-V, is a major and utter comercial failure…

Even without the SUV boom, the market in Indonesia is already into SUV. Like India, we share similar seasonal wet and dry season, and similar infrastructure shenanigans (bad roads, potholes, the many dirt path). So tall cars are always in demand, the Toyota/Daihatsu offerings always cater to these facts. The Avanza/Xenia and Rush/Terios is built to venture all types of road conditions, flood no flood.

The BR-V was Honda answer to the Toyota/Daihatsu Rush/Terios, offering superior efficiency, comfort and driveability. Yet, BR-V best selling year was when it was introduced in 2016, at 38.000+ units, and in 2019, Honda only sells 4.000+ units compared to Toyota/Daihatsu Rush/Terios combined at 80.000+ units.

So why, in a market that demands 7 seater tall SUV, that the BR-V spectacularly fails? The CR-V and HR-V fares much better, and becomes the segment leaders, trading blows with Toyota’s best effort.

Well, the BR-V simply fell victim to the rule of association, being associated with the cheaper barebone Brio.

The thing is, the Brio project put too much effort in cost saving and economy of scale, Honda forgot that the market considers car purchase as an emotional act rather than logical. First gen and “2nd gen” Brio, Mobilio, and BR-V shares the exact same dashboard, door trim, and some seats making the association that all three cars are based on the original model, the entry level family car, the Brio.

First impression matters, in marketing term, it’s what defines the expectation of the brand/product going forward. The original Brio is not a car to be based on if you want to create a good impression. The original Brio lacks everything to be called a decent car. Lack of sound proofing, lack of boot space, lack of second row seating space, you name it… How do I know this, I drive one daily.

So when people was asked about Mobilio and the BR-V, by proxy what they recall is not the individual car, but the whole family because even the exterior (hood, headlights, front doors, the A pillar, window kink) is similar. When I asked my friends about the Mobilio, the definitive answer is that they will say it’s a longer Brio. When I asked about the BR-V, the consensus will say it’s a longer taller Brio. One even commented, it’s in the name, BRio-V.

So when people looked at the BR-V, what they see is not a premium 7 seater SUV, but rather an elongated and jacked up cheap car… And they are correct. The BR-V isn’t just a colossal sales failure in Indonesia, it’s everywhere where it’s sold. The initial sellout drops like a rock in the next year.

The Brio platform is now in its second generation, which underpins the second generation Honda Amaze back in 2018. Not to be confused with the revised Honda Brio hatch that got majorly revised adding rear hatch door but still retains the old chassis code, DD1/2, while the Amaze had it’s chassis code updated to DF5/6 from DF1/2.

Launching the N7X first in the ASEAN region is a smart move, and expectedly, Honda will put premium on the car. Why, because the rule of association. With Honda putting the N7X on the market first, the subsequent cars based on the platform will now be referenced as the variant of N7X, a premium car, not a variant of a cheap entry level car.

Still though what name the N7X will carry, will it still be BR-V? And risking the tarnished image of the car’s legacy, or will it be something new but still in the xR-V family? Well what’s in a name… A lot apparently.

Still though, good job Honda, you have won your first battle with launching a new car that people talks about and look up to. Now onto the war.

N7X Concept Makes Honda Interesting Again

Honda just unveiled the N7X “concept” in Indonesia that might be a preview for second gen BR-V. The reveal was interesting is that Honda put a lot of effort to make the car looks more premium than even the HR-V. The only telltale that this is an entry/mainstream car is from the dashboard design that’s lifted directly from the Honda Amaze (Brio sedan) sold in India. Anyway, you guys can watch the video of the virtual unveiling.

N7X 3/4 front view
N7X 3/4 rear view

For a 7 seater, Honda move away, like waaaay waaaay from Honda Mobilio/BR-V kinked side windows which going to give the car a more cramped feeling interior wise but definitely a cleaner and more premium looking car externally.

Now let’s discuss about the N7X heritage, the Brio… What? No Brio resemblance? Well that’s because Honda killed the Brio name from the N7X donor, which is the Honda Amaze, which technically is the second generation Honda Brio Amaze. Like my (many) rants about the Brio family, Honda blew it spectacularly with the initial launch of the platform. Everything about the Brio family screams cheap, from cheap materials, lack of sound proofing, lack of amenities, and lack of dignity in its marketing campaign.

Honda Brio Amaze is the sedan version of the Brio hatchback sold in India, Nepal, Philippines and Thailand. In India the car is relatively successful with the massive size of the Indian market and its appetite for compact sedans, however initial good sales comes to a massive dip in its third year. Compared to the competition, the Brio Amaze feels cheap and lacking in content and styling and Honda took the first generation off in just 4 years and fast track the second generation of the car, now just called Amaze. Sales picks up doubling the previous generation model best selling year since it’s launches. The Amaze addresses the Brio Amaze shortcoming especially in the styling department with proportional looks and sorted interior.

Even though the Amaze was launched two years ago, Honda never took the platform to refresh the Brio line. In fact, Honda refreshed the old platform of the original Brio and added proper hatch and call it a day. Honda also kind of refresh the Mobilio which still ride on the same platform with revised nose and added some sound proofing…. So I wonder, with Honda penchant creed to platform share everything, where does the Amaze shared its platform with… And here we are.

Honda Amaze 2019

The most obvious visual cue taken from the Amaze on the N7X is where the hood meet the front fender with the same kink line, the same straight upper body molding and the A pillar. The most striking clue that the N7X is based off the amaze is from the exact same dashboard seen in the video.

N7X interior
Honda Amaze interior

All in all, I like what Honda is doing with the next generation of the Brio family. I fear that the Mobilio is obsolete with the N7X unless Honda wanted to release a decontented version of the car. Yet this is how you hype the market, you build brand cachet first, the rest will fall in place. Honda is with new management now and all I can say, it’s in good hands.

Honda teased new model for Indonesia

Launching in Indonesia in just 2 days, Honda teased two images of a mystery car.

There are three candidate of car reveal by Honda this year, Mobilio, BR-V and ZR-V. The Mobilio is entering its 7th year of production, a long cycle for Honda standard which sticks to 5-6 year model cycle. The same goes to BR-V which is in its 6th year of production. Honda ZR-V although only mentioned in passing as Honda registers the name last year, is strongly pointed by the media that it’s going to be Honda Brio based SUV. With Kia/Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota/Daihatsu already stole the lead selling small SUV, Honda is left alone without one.

It’s hinted by a conversation with party of interest is that this is a “family car”, and with family car in Indonesia is synonymous with 7 seater, this narrows it down to Mobilio or BR-V. However there’s troubling fact that the BR-V doesn’t sell anywhere close to Mobilio, yet the BR-V family name, the CR-V and HR-V carries a familiar symbol of class.

In my previous post, I suggest Honda to kill either Mobilio or BR-V and make do with one model. The image that the BR-V is only a dressed up Mobilio is deeply ingrained, even though it’s not. Honda did extensive rework for the BR-V steering assembly, sound proofing, wider track, and larger headroom on the third row. However, the market is already accustomed to the fact that cars with a “rugged” variation is just a dress up version of the original car, made popular by Nissan Grand Livina and its X-Gear variant, and now, the best selling car in the segment, Mitsubishi Xpander and its “rugged” variant, Xpander Cross.

Honda has realized the fact and in Japan, they launched “rugged” variant of the Fit, called Fit CrosStar, which is just a Fit with different bumper and taller ground clearance. I assume Honda will not repeat the Mobilio and BR-V fiasco again and merge the car into one and probably just add a rugged version which is just a taller version of the original… Introducing 2021 Honda MOBIRIVO.

Anyway, Honda needs a strong emotion stirring product and the teaser looks like it can deliver one. With new management, I believe Honda can put up a good fight and correct past mistake. Now Honda… Give us that delicious 1.0 turbo engine will you? Toyota and Daihatsu already did.

Been awhile… And another Honda car rant

Well, my last post is about 1 1/2 years ago… I’m still alive, it’s just things have been, hectic to say the least, with a global pandemic, starting a new business, and my health went haywire a bit. The thing is also, this blog is supposed to be all things 4 wheels Honda, but as of late, there’s no interesting product from Honda since 2015. The Honda E electric is, eh… The NSX got nowhere in term of excitement, and finally, the trio of entry level cars in APAC region is major snooze fest. The Brio, Mobilio, BR-V, supposed to usher in new era of Honda in APAC, one that is cater made, cars that would fulfill the demographics to the dot.

and it flops…

Honda Brio hatch and Mobilio got discontinued in India and the Brio sedan sales are minimal. Strong Mobilio sales in ASEAN region quickly diminished in the face of competition, ultimately, one that came from Mitsubishi. The first gen Honda Brio abysmal cargo is the laughing stock of the segment. The BR-V sales are lackluster, despite carrying the mantle of the successful xR-V family badge.

Honda did quickly address the Brio sedan situation in India, ushering new full model change in just 4 years. Honda addressed the Brio hatch situation with a new model that extends the cargo bay. Honda upped the content game with the Mobilio, addressing NVH. The results speaks for itself, Honda Brio sedan (now called Honda Amaze) sales picks up nicely in India, Honda Brio hatch is the best selling car in Indonesia, and Honda Mobilio, well, it still exists, selling okay-ish but never back to the top of the segment.

The thing about Honda is that they tend to think what’s best for the customer… STOP IT. The market is not logical, it never is. The market DOESN’T NEED a SENSIBLE CAR, the market WANTS a STATUS SYMBOL. I still remember the original Mobilio pitch with its round headlights and sedated fascia, that it’s a friendly car, a capable friend of the family, hoo boy. Honda Mobilio strong initial sellout was indicative of Honda reputation of being a premium brand for all its existence. Accord, Civic, CR-V, Stream, City, Jazz, are all great cars in its segment and one that earns respect from journalists, enthusiasts, and regulars. The Mobilio was launched to much fanfare that it’s the first affordable 7 seater from Honda since they discontinued the Honda Stream in the region. Then realization hits hard about the car. It’s solidly built but with accompanying strong hint of cheapness everywhere. No smart seating arrangement, with cheap materials used in the interior and the lack of sound proofing makes the Mobilio feels like a joke of a car.

Emotion drives sales Honda, make a car that stirs the emotion not the logic.

Next gen ASEAN/India SUV: Honda India and Honda Indonesia gattai!

Well, I hope one of my reader is an avid Japanese cartoon viewers back in the 90s, or the title will be weird.

According to GaadiWaadi.com, Honda India and Honda Indonesia will collaborate in making the next generation of the WR-V, the Jazz based SUV. Rumoured to be based off the Honda Amaze (Brio Sedan) chassis, the SUV will slot in the sub 4 meter car segment that received a favorable tax breaks than cars with longer size.

The Honda Amaze is Honda heavy hitter in India, carrying significant sales number out of all the Brio chassis (Brio, Mobilio, even BR-V). Building an SUV variant should be given as the Brio concept is Honda answer to same sausage different length platform sharing that offered high efficiency cost reduction.

My criticism for the Brio line has always been about what the car represents, cost savings, and nothing else. When the Brio and Mobilio debuted, it has borderline cheap interior, with uninspiring design and tachometer shade shroud that as useful as Donald Trump’s contribution to stopping climate change.

The collaboration between Honda India and Honda Indonesia SHOULD bear good results, since Honda is being beaten hard in Indonesia even though there’s so few automotive brands and models compared to what Honda India is facing. Honda Indonesia can learn a few thing or two from the Indian market, with the AMAZING success of the Amaze (… Get it? Get it?).

The original Amaze, still called the Brio Amaze when it was launched in 2013 is an oddball of a car, as it’s the Honda Brio hatch with an added trunk and extended wheelbase. The overall look, still retaining 3/4 look of a hatch with an added back end is just weird looking. Thanks for Honda brand cachet, the car still sells, although sellout drops constantly on yearly basis. Then in just 4 years time, one of the quickest full model change Honda ever pulled globally, Honda India revealed the second generation Amaze, dropping the Brio name and sales number skyrocketed. The car, now a properly designed sedan, looks great inside and out. The interior looks upscale enough, without all the weird textured plastic materials that unfortunately bestowed the first generation Brio/Mobilio and it’s competitively priced too.

Honda Indonesia have a similar fate with the Honda Mobilio, initially a wildly popular model in Indonesia, sales dropped to almost 1/3 today from its peak when the car was introduced. Increasing competition from Mitsubishi, Wuling, Suzuki, essentially makes the Mobilio a very bad value proposition. Honda Indonesia can learn a lot from Honda India for the next generation Mobilio, after all, MPV is still a very big market in Indonesia.

Here’s hoping the collaboration extends to the Mobilio.

Source:

Honda’s All-New Amaze Based SUV Likely To Replace WR-V In India

Which one to kill – Mobilio or BR-V?

To say that Honda is savage is an understatement. We are talking about an automotive company who will gladly discontinue automotive icons like Integra, Prelude, and S2000 in a heartbeat if it doesn’t perform financially. This fact is not new, way back when Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa was still kicking and laying the foundation of the company it is now, they both spar a lot. In one story of Honda biography, when developing the Honda 1300 in the 1960s, Soichiro Honda had quarrels with his engineers. Takeo Fujisawa then intervene. There’s some conflicting story from various sources, but suffice to say, business decision talk happened and although the 1300 with air cooling is out for a sale, it’s short lived, making way for the Accord. So guys, if you’re a true hardcore Honda fan, look for the Honda 1300 as to my knowledge, it’s the last Honda car that Soichiro Honda technically involved in.

Anyway… Back to which one to kill, Mobilio or BR-V…

The problem with Mobilio and BR-V is that they kind of overlap with each other. Similar interior and utility makes it hard to justify buying one from each except for the price, which the Mobilio has advantage over the BR-V. Yes the BR-V have better NVH (noise, vibration, harshness), but it’s marginal and the only thing it has to the general populace is its SUV look. However I couldn’t dismiss the engineering merit BR-V carries such as the actively cooled CVT, that uptick in power and more head room on the third row.

If I’m in the position of the bean counters looking at the big picture, I will kill the Mobilio and keep the BR-V for its second generation. The Mobilio only sells well in Indonesia, and for a regional project that’s bad. The BR-V sales in the region is on the rise, because globally, people leans towards everything SUV or strong stance looking MPV. This is why cars like Mitsubishi Expander succeeds, because it crosses the boundaries between your mommy and daddy car. Unofficially, they call these cars MUV, a portmanteau from MPV and SUV, although the original meaning is very far from a simple combination of words. In United States and Europe, they just call these kind of cars, crossovers.

Off course strong brand is a strong brand, and the Mobilio has established itself in Indonesia very well with 200 thousand units running around in the country to date. My take killing the mobilio is killing the car, but not the name. So the next generation Mobilio physically is dead, replaced by a second generation BR-V, but call it the Mobilio in Indonesia while the same car is called BR-V anywhere else.

My idea for the next generation 7 seater is pretty standard, make the car wider and with fold flat 50:50 third row seat. The 1.5L i-VTEC and CVT combo is potent as is, perhaps a 1.0L i-VTEC turbo is warranted to put Honda in the forefront of automotive technology, but I’m worried about the lack of maintenance culture and Honda engine tolerance for low grade fuel.

Honda main competitor is obviously the Mitsubishi Expander, and because it’s physically a larger car, the current gen Mobilio/BR-V is simply a smaller alternative. Sure, large isn’t always good, bigger car, heavier weight, more frontal area and thus less fuel efficient but it’s what the market demanded, so Honda needs to follow suit. I don’t like tall cars, the Expander almost grazed that line, so I’m still okay. What I wanted from a second generation Mobilio/BR-V is a wider car, the current gen headroom is already good but the shoulder room needs a lot of improvement. In either current gen Mobilio or BR-V, I always scrap elbows with the driver when I sit in the front passenger seat. Especially when the driver is pulling the e-brake.

There’s also another issue with Mobilio and BR-V life cycle. The Mobilio is due for a major change in most likely a year’s time, since it’s already in the market for 6 years now, while the BR-V only entered its 4th year now. So will Honda pull similar move like the Amaze in India? Changing the model in just 4 years? I really hate to be Honda product planner now.

I love Honda and its fighting spirit, they always fight hard with fresh and exciting product portfolio. However I just don’t like the Mobilio from the start. It’s too generic, and not Honda special. Honda should never go with the principle “what they need” anymore. Yes, the Mobilio is what the market needs, but not what they want anymore.

The Brio Family, 7 years later

The Brio, Mobilio, BR-V, and Amaze was the start of Honda new platform sharing project in ASEAN and India. It’s a weird start at first with flooding on the Thailand factory that delays the first car in the project, the Brio.

But then it seemingly starts so well, Honda sales in Indonesia shoots through the roof with the Mobilio, netting almost 80 thousand units in when it was first release in the country alone. The car even gets a very hot welcome with 22 thousand units when it was launched in India. The Brio sells steadily well in Indonesia, reaching top sales for micro cars in Indonesia every year until today (2019). The BR-V and Amaze sells pretty well on its sophomore years as well.

Yet here we are 7 years later after the Brio and subsequently the Mobilio, BR-V, Amaze strong starts has become weird plenty fast. Honda wanted to sell a family of product line, but in reality every region has a specific demand and Honda can’t please every market segment in the region.

Let’s start with the Mobilio first.

I have negative predisposition towards the Mobilio, because outside the engine and transmission, it’s not a Honda to me. There are small details that only Honda engineers can pull yes, but it was clearly designed to maximize profit first and utility later. No second row smart seat like the Fit/Jazz? No problem, but why the third row seats didn’t fold flat? And why the third row seat dangles freely with only a hook to secure it when it’s being fold up? Is it a smart solution? Probably, but it comes out very cheap feeling.

The Mobilio still sells well in Indonesia, but numbers are going down steadily. From near 80 thousand units when launched to just 20 thousand units average for the last three years. The market competition simply heats up exponentially in the last three years. The Wuling Cortez is killing the Mobilio with its amazing value. For the list price of the Mobilio RS, you can get a turbo charged Wuling Cortez that is roomier, and with more amenities. Mitsubishi Expander/Nissan Livina duo offers a roomier car with more daring design for less money than the Mobilio. The Mobilio looks like a bad value product today compared to the competition.

The only thing going on for the Mobilio is the very good fuel mileage and good engine (see my previous comment about everything else about the car is not a Honda except for the engine and transmission). The Indian market is more cruel than the Indonesian market. With more competition from the get go, the Mobilio lackluster sales with only 3 thousand units sold in 2016. Honda India killed the Mobilio.

Now let’s go to the Amaze.

The Amaze, the Brio sedan takes off to a grand start in India, with 65 thousand units sold. The sub 4-meter sedan is a hot segment in India, this is where the Brio Amaze shines bright. The problem is with the design, it just looks weird, period.

The first gen Amaze is the Brio with added trunk. The proportion is simply off. A sloping hood and fenders gives the illusion of a smaller car with a huge rear, the same issue as the Honda City fourth gen (GD8).

Noticing this issue, Honda India in just after 4 years (one of the shortest life cycle of any Honda products), releases the second generation of the Amaze with a proper sedan design. The second gen Amaze looks special, it looks premium. From the Indian reviews I read on forums and youtube reviews, the Amaze is simply… Amazing. It’s not the best in class for everything, but it’s pretty well balanced from driving dynamics, interior space, and subjective design (I prefer the Suzuki Dzire).

The Amaze sales drops to 20 thousand units in 2017, but bounced back hard in 2018 with the release of the new second generation model topping at 65 thousand units sold. Probably massive clearance discount on the last gen helps, but I see massive success of the Amaze in India for many years.

And then we have the BR-V.

The BR-V… Ah… Arguably the most misunderstood model from the family. The penultimate model, the ultimate Mobilio… What… NO! The BR-V IS NOT A DRESS UP MOBILIO!!!! It’s annoying, but this is what the consensus is in the market where the Mobilio and BR-V sold together.

2019 BR-V

The BR-V is always disregarded as the Mobilio+ because aside from the front profile, the rest of the exterior looks like the Mobilio. Nissan did it with the Grand Livina X-Gear, so why Honda should be different? Well, because it is. Even though the BR-V resembles the Mobilio, it is almost a new car unto itself.

The chassis code difference is telling, the Mobilio with DD4 and the BR-V with DG1 shares the same mother but a different father. The BR-V CVTs is equipped with a cooler that connects to the radiator. This means the car has tougher chops to do some offroads and able to withstand taller gears on longer period of time. This also means you don’t have to worry the transmission heating up on steep inclines like in mountain courses/roads. There are more dampeners installed on the front end and revised steering to curbed vibrations. On chassis side, the third row of the BR-V has more headroom than the Mobilio. Simply put, you pay more for BR-V because it is a more capable car than the Mobilio.

The BR-V just entered its fourth year, but it really comes in the worst time. The Mitsubishi Expander/Nissan Livina Duo is taking its market share like a champ. The Wuling Almaz, a CR-V sized car but at the same price of the BR-V offers a MUCH better value for money. The BR-V Sales drops from 38 thousand in its first year in Indonesia to just only 9 thousand two years later in Indonesia. However numbers are steadily growing in Pakistan and India.

Almost forgot the Brio, the one that started all.

Ah the Brio, the magical car that started it all. A way for Honda to utilize Indonesia government special tax ruling for cars built in Indonesia and using engine under 1.2L. Aside from the amazing engine and class leading 5 speed auto, there’s not much to it. Its cramped second row, lack of sound proofing and laughable cargo space makes way for pure driving exhilaration. Its short wheelbase makes the car feels light and agile and nobody will laugh when the car is fully modded.

In India, the Brio sells poorly, and with the Amaze as a roomier alternative and not for a lot more money, our friends there flocks to the latter than the former. Only in Indonesia that the Brio excels with sales growing steadily year by year. With the “second generation” just released in 2018, with bigger second row and a proper trunk, the car is predicted to soar past 60 thousand units sold in 2019 alone.

I put a parenthesis in the second generation comment because funny enough, the chassis is still DD1 according to wikipedia, the same one as the first generation. Structurally, the car has its wheelbase stretched by about 6 Cm, which is a huge increment for a car that size. Interior wise, the car still uses the same interior design from the outgoing model, most likely this is why the car still shares the same chassis code.

Thankfully, the second generation improves aplenty in the NVH department. Since I own the first generation, test driving the second generation felt strange. The feel is the same, it’s like driving my first gen Brio but with a bit more weight from the get go… But it’s noticeably more silent and better road noise at all speed range. Luckily, it’s not available in blue like the outgoing model, phew… Money saved.

Honda is truly stuck in the moment with two of their major line up in the middle class economy market… And you don’t want that as it’s statistically the biggest market today. At this moment, Honda can only put cash on the hood for Mobilio and Mobilio in Indonesia to survive the Mitsubishi/Nissan and Wuling onslaught. There is a loyalty discount for current Honda owners if wanting to buy another Honda, but the amount is still less than the value of the competition. I’d say Honda should give the Mobilio and BR-V about 8-12% price reduction in whatever form. At that price point, the Mobilio is attractive, the BR-V is still a hard sell, but hey, it’s a Honda!

Source:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Mobilio

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Brio

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Amaze

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_BR-V