• Honda Freed - Maruti Ertiga and Toyota Innova beater. Possible launch in 2014

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Big things are predicted from the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. Maruti’s first serious attempt at the utility market after the disaster of the Versa, the Ertiga is pitched as a Life Utility vehicle (LUV). It is aimed at the Toyota Innova and even though its too early to make a statement on how the Ertiga would fair in the market, initial response suggest it will be another best seller from Maruti. To counter the Ertiga and the soon to be launched EcoSport, the baby SUV from Ford, Honda could consider bringing in their Freed MPV.

This Mini MPV has been in production since 2008 and like the Ertiga which is based on the Ritz, the Freed is based on the Jazz platform. The MPV was recently unveiled at the Bangkok Motor Show and is available in a seven-seat version with captain’s seats in the second row, an eight-seat version and also a five-seat version. The eight seater version uses a 60:40-split tumble seat in the second row and the five-passenger variant seats the occupants in two rows. Powering the Freed is a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine which produces 118PS and 148Nm of torque. The engine is matched to either a 5 speed manual or a 6 speed automatic CVT gearbox. The motor is high revving, refined and efficient.

Honda sells the Freed in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and in Japan. In Japan the freed also has a Hybrid version. The MPV is stylish looking and adopts Honda’s innovative low-floor and low centre of gravity technology. The Freed looks sleek, has big headlights and a funky rear tailgate spoiler. The tailgate extends from the roof almost to the bottom of the car. The cabin has an airy feel to it and the overall fit and finish is good. The interiors are more spacious than the Ertiga but the Freed comes with sliding doors which in India are associated with cheaper automobiles. Boot space is excellent as well.

Suspension is made up of MacPherson struts at the front and at the rear is an H-shaped torsion beam suspension. The electric power steering is light and enables easy manoeuvrability. The MPV however is more expensive than the Ertiga and if Honda actually brings it into India then the Freed would be priced more in the region of the Toyota Innova. It nevertheless has all the qualities and is smartly packaged to take on the competition from the Innova, the Mahindra Xylo and the Ertiga.

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