While most guys in the country lust for motorcycles, fast and aggressive, more often than not, at least in the urban setting, chances have it that the first two-wheeler that everyone gets their hands on as soon as they turn 18 is an automatic scooter. Scooters are usually the underdogs in the two-wheeler market though they are in great demand from every sort of buyer, from college kids to men and women of all ages. And there is no denying that the scooter that really rules the roost in India is the Honda Activa. But as good a scooter as the Activa is, it does lack panache. So for those who want a bit of flamboyance while keeping the Activa’s practicality, Honda has been offering another gem for quite a few years now – the Dio.
While maintaining the Activa’s underpinnings, the Dio loses the heavy steel body and replaces it with a sleek plastic body which not only makes it look extremely euro-chic, but also makes it look like it’s doing 100km/h while standing still. So obviously this made the Dio a big hit with younger audiences. And with the Activa having gone through a major upgrade a couple of years back with a slightly increased capacity 109cc engine, a new Combi Brake System and some design alterations, it was high time that the Dio too went under the knife.
So finally at the Delhi Auto Expo 2012, Honda unveiled the next generation of its scooter which will cater to the younger masses. And the first thing that really strikes you is the completely redesigned front end of the bike. The trapezoidal headlight and the two sliver like indicators have been replaced by a massive new unit that incorporates the headlight and indicators into one near seamless piece that is sprawled all over the front body panel. The new Dio of course retains the headlight-less unbroken handlebar shroud from the older bike and though its design is pretty similar, it does sport a few additional lines and curves. The front fender is new as well as the centre panels which connect the front of the bike to the rear have also seen a massive revamp and even feature a jutting out portion on either side of the bike which doubles as the passenger footrest. The side, the tail, the massive tail light cluster with integrated clear lens indicators, the grab rail – everything is new. In fact, apart from the tyres and a few bits and bobs like the switchgear and levers, you won’t find a single external bit that has been carried over from the earlier bike.
Underneath, the upgraded engine, which has gone up in capacity from 102cc to 109cc, doesn’t really add any more performance to the bike. What the increased capacity does do is make the engine a little unstressed while pulling load, thereby requiring less throttle for the same operations, and in the process increasing the bike’s fuel efficiency. In our city riding, this efficiency hovered around 40-43kmpl, which is not too shabby considering the bike had to lug around a 100kg rider.
But the specific consumption as well as performance figures will have to wait for the full road test. However, it suffices to say that this new bike definitely pulls better and feels at much more ease even with two large persons on board, while the Combi Brake System should make life easier for the average Joe who tends to grab a handful of brake while slowing down. The only real point of contention we can think of for this new Dio is that the forward sloping floor board does hamper the seating ergonomics for tall riders, and riding around for more than 15-20km at a stretch can get a little uncomfortable because of this.
Overall, Honda has done a lot of changes to the Dio which should make it more appealing to its current spectrum of users. A case in point is the optional full matte gray paint scheme – a lot of college kids anyway paint their Dios. A welcome change however would have been the inclusion of telescopic front forks which many of its competitors already offer. But we guess that will have to wait for the next upgrade. But right now, I can easily say that the new Dio is certainly one of the most practical, and definitely the best looking scooter on the Indian market today.
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