Honda Mobilio vs Renault Duster: Comparison Review

  • by , Photography : vikrant singh   |
  • October 6, 2014
  • 82898

One's a stylish MPV. The other a butch compact SUV. One can seat seven, the other five. One's practical, and the other a lifestyle statement. But, both cost nearly the same. So, which one should you go for - the Honda Mobilio or the Renault Duster?

 

Mobilio vs Duster

 

 

Yes, this isn't an apples to apples comparison. But then since the two are priced similar by the kilo, it's always better to settle for something tastier. The Honda Mobilio is a stylish take on the seven seat MPV class while the Renault Duster is your quintessential urban SUV. The Mobilio has space, practicality and a snobbish badge while the Duster has machismo, comfort and go-anywhere written all over it. So, for Rs 11 lakh or thereabouts, which one should you bite into? 

 

Please note: We might have used the Duster AWD for photography here (for the lack of availability of the 2WD model), but for comparison and testing purposes, it's the 2WD Duster that's been considered...

 

 

Honda Mobilio and Renault Duster

 

 

Exterior styling / Design

The Renault Duster is an SUV and it is naturally more aggressive, more towering and more in your face than the slightly petite Honda Mobilio. It has better road presence and the ability to grab more eyeballs. Meanwhile, having a face similar to the Brio and the Amaze robs the Mobilio of individuality. But when viewed for the rear, it is one of the better looking cars in the market; the segment, body style or price notwithstanding.

 

Renault Duster: 4/5

Honda Mobilio: 3.5/5

 

 

 

Honda Mobilio interiors

 

 

Interior & Space

Inside, neither car truly impresses. There's a lack of premiumness in the cabin of both cars be it quality or texture of plastic or the design or layout of the dash. Similarly priced sedans on the other hand, look and feel way more upmarket and welcoming.

 

However, when it comes to space, seating comfort or even ease of ingress, the Honda Mobilio scores over the Renault Duster. For starters, the Mobilio can seat seven while the Duster is only good enough for five. The Mobilio also has better contoured and supportive seats. And because it has a lower floor height compared to the Duster, not to mention wider opening doors, the Honda is also easier to get in and out of. The access to the third row on the Mobilio - thanks to the second row seats that tumble out of the way - is one of the best in class.

 

 

Renault Duster AWD interiors

 

 

As for space, if we consider the two as five seaters, the Renault Duster is roomier of the two, but not by much. There's little to choose between the two when it comes to head room or rear kneeroom - with the Mobilio getting a sliding second row - but the Duster being the wider of the two cars has more shoulder room. It is the better of the two if you need to utilise three abreast seating regularly.  In terms of luggage space though, the Honda Mobilio has a more usable boot and friendlier lower loading lip height; this is of course with the third row folded.

 

Renault Duster: 3.5/5

Honda Mobilio: 4.5/5

 

 

Duster and Mobilio features comparison

 

 

Features & Equipment

The touchscreen multimedia you see on the Honda Mobilio is an optional extra. The one you see on the Renault Duster however, comes as standard on the top of the line RXZ model, even on the 2WD version. Not only does the latter's unit look better integrated, it has better user interface and a more reactive touch. Otherwise, the features remain more or less the same - there's audio playback from all sorts of inputs, there's Bluetooth telephony and Satnav. Both the Mobilio and the Duster also get audio controls on the steering; the Honda gets it on the wheel itself while the Renault has it on the steering column. We prefer the Japanese approach; it's more intuitive.

 

Renault Duster: 3/5

Honda Mobilio: 3/5

 

 

 

Renault Duster AWD engine

 

 

Engine & Performance

On paper, the engines of the Renault Duster and the Honda Mobilio are pretty similar. Both are 1.5-litre, four cylinder, and modern turbocharged diesel engines. The power outputs aren't too far apart either. The Duster delivers 10PS more at 110PS. But the Duster's peak torque is almost 50Nm more. On the road, this difference becomes amply clear. The Renault even though heavier, feels more spirited to drive. It has better driveability, better acceleration and the engine runs quieter as well. As a result it is a more entertaining and a less tiring drive over longer distances or up a winding road. The Mobilio though is the fuel efficiency champion here. Its engine's all aluminium construction might make it noisier than the Renault, but it also makes it more efficient.

 

Renault Duster: 4/5

Honda Mobilio: 3.5/5

 

 

Honda Mobilio in action

 

 

Ride & Ease of Driving

The Honda Mobilio would also be our pick if we wanted an easier car to live with in a city. It has lighter controls - steering and clutch effort is lesser; it has better visibility - upfront, via the ORVMs or even through the rear glass there are fewer blind spots; and it has a more natural and comfortable driving position – you sit lower, the pedals are better spaced and the seat-steering-pedal relation or the gear shifter location or for that matter the placement of various other controls is better thought out on the Mobilio. Having said that, the Renault Duster isn’t uncomfortable by any stretch, and one does sit higher in the Renault typical of SUVs, but between the two, the Honda has a clear edge.

 

 

 

Renault Duster AWD in action

 

 

When it comes to ride quality, however, the Renault Duster is better; in fact it is brilliant. The Honda Mobilio already does a good job with its settled and absorbent ride ironing out bumps, pot holes and undulations without a bother. But, the Duster manages to do all this with more composure and authority. There is less vibration, noise and impact that seeps into the cabin over rough roads. And at places wherein one might need to slow down in the Mobilio, the Duster can go through it at full clip without breaking a sweat.

 

Renault Duster: 4/5

Honda Mobilio: 4/5

 

 

 

 

Honda Mobilio handling

 

 

Handling & Braking

Now both the Renault Duster and the Honda Mobilio are monocoques. Both use McPherson struts upfront and torsion beam axles at the rear for handling suspension duties. And both are good fun around a twisty road. But there's a telling difference in the way the two handle. The Mobilio runs smaller wheels but sits closer to the ground. But it's the comparatively lesser weight and limited suspension travel of the Honda that makes it a better handler. Wherein the Duster even with its larger wheelbase and track lengths, not to mention wider tyres, rolls and understeers, the Mobilio feels more nimble and chuck-able. The difference isn't huge; in fact it's not even significant enough to be a deal breaker, but the Honda has a slight edge here which driving enthusiasts will appreciate. Braking wise, there's nothing to complain about on either cars. 

 

Renault Duster: 3/5

Honda Mobilio: 3.5/5

 

 

Renault Duster AWD

 

 

Price & Fuel efficiency

On test here in the Honda Mobilio in V (O) trim. It costs Rs 10.4 lakh, ex showroom Delhi. For the Renault Duster we have chosen the 110PS RxL version. At Rs 10.8 lakh, the RxL is not only the closest we could get to the Mobilio's pricing (with the engine we wanted), this trim has all the essential features one could want. The Mobilio has a slight advantage here when it comes to affordability. But factor in the fuel efficiency of the two cars, and the Honda Mobilio runs always with the win under this head. The Mobilio delivers over 5kmpl more than the Duster.

 

Renault Duster: 3/5

Honda Mobilio: 4/5

 

 

 

Honda Mobilio handling

 

 

Verdict

One thing is for certain, the Honda Mobilio simply can't match the attitude of the Duster. It might be good looking but while the Duster can pass of as a lifestyle statement, the Mobilio will always retain a utilitarian aura. The Duster also has the better engine and its ride quality is truly commendable. But, it doesn't win this test. Our winner is the Honda Mobilio. It's more comfortable, more usable, better handling and above all, better value than the Duster; especially when one factors in the price and fuel economy.

 

Renault Duster: 3.5/5

Honda Mobilio: 4/5

 


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