Scooter and the name Activa are synonymous to each other. When all the two-wheeler manufacturers were closing down their scooter operations, Honda made their foray into the Indian market with a scooter. In fact the scooter market is present currently because of the Activa, which speaks volumes about the Activa. Since the time of its debut in 2000, the Activa has been numero uno in the scooter segment and in the due course of time it hasn’t been fiddled with much.
It was given a minor face lift both cosmetically and mechanically in 2009 but the basic DNA of Activa has remained intact. But times have changed much, since then and scooter sales have increased immensely. In fact sales of motorcycles have improved by just 1 per cent; whereas by contrast, the scooter segment has grown a tremendous 18 percent.
This has resulted in all the other two-wheeler manufacturers entering the scooter market aggressively and for the first time Honda was facing some kind of competition and it meant they have to up their game to maintain their reign. For this, the boffins at Honda tweaked the Activa’s heart with “HET” (Honda Eco Technology). Will the HET-update help the Activa in maintaining its supremacy? Let’s find out…
Styling is the department where the new Activa has been neglected since design wise there has been no change in the new Activa, in fact it is impossible to differentiate the older and the new model. The only visual differentiating factor between the old and the new is the HET-badge stuck on the left-hand side panel of the scooter. Personally I feel this is a good move by Honda since the Activa has a conservative styling and neutral design to please the masses.
The clean and crisp line of the Activa makes it look still fresh and appealing. The instrument cluster remains same which is easy to read and understand but one feels a digital instrument cluster would have made more sense. Also the new Activa gets equipped with CLIC (Convenient lift-up independent cover) – mechanism, this feature helps the owner to access the engine easily by just unscrewing three-bolts for maintenance. The fit and finish on the Activa is top notch with even panel gaps and good quality plastics all around.
One look at the engine case and there is hardly any difference between the old mill and the new one but all the new mechanical transformation lies underneath it with the HET-update. So what’s this HET? Well it stands for Honda eco technology and the primary role of it is to reduce friction among the mating parts. The reduction in friction leads to improved performance and efficiency. Apart from that the new Activa gets Nickel coated spark plug which is a first for the scooter segment and the plugs have rounded edges, these changes have resulted in improved combustion.
One of the major changes made to the heart of the Activa is that the crankcase offset has been increased which has resulted in improved combustion and reliability. Although the increased offset hasn’t made any changes to the Activa’s power and torque figures but the new engine feels much peppier while the throttle response is more crisp. The inlets ports have been completely re-engineered and low-tension piston rings have been employed. The pulley converter ratios have been modified to enhance the smoothness of the auto transmission. All these updates have also made the new engine much more vibe free and the NVH levels are excellent.
Ride and Handling:
All though power and torque figure remains un-changed and the Activa still employs the 109cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine producing 8.1PS of power and 8.82Nm of torque. The changes made to the engine make their presence felt as soon as you twist the throttle. For starters the engine feels more peppy and responsive; overtaking is much easier thanks to the smoother transmission which aids the scooter in laying down its power effortlessly. While the HET-update has made the engine livelier, it’s the efficiency which is the highlight of the up-date. The updated Activa delivered an impressive efficiency figure of 51.6kmpl overall.
No changes have been made to the Activa’s chassis, but handling has improved thanks to the tube-less tyres which now come standard on it. Handling was one of the trumps which made the Activa so successful and with the more grippy tubeless tyres it’s a joy to flick the bike in traffic and also the ride quality has improved.
Though the rear-suspension does its job well, I felt the front suspension is on the stiffer side and one can feel the handle judder when going over small potholes and uneven surface. The Combined Braking System (CBS) make their presence felt under hard braking and do a satisfactory job. Still one feels that Honda should have give an option of disc-brakes like they do for the Aviator, since they provide much superior braking than the drums.
Currently the Activa has no real threat in terms of competition, but with the scooter segment witnessing the bulk of action in the two-wheeler market with other manufacturers Yamaha, Hero, Suzuki, Vespa etc wanting to penetrate the scooter market it’s a good move by the Japanese based manufacturer to update its torch bearer.
The HET update has helped the new Activa in a number of ways, the major being the fuel economy, 51.6kmpl (overall) which will make our mileage obsessive consumers happy to the core. But its just isn’t the efficiency figures that have been improved the new Activa feels much livelier and yet smoother. With this update and pricing the Activa competitively at Rs. 47,188(ex-showroom Delhi), it seems Honda have maintained its supremacy for now, but with a slew of launches speculated, it will be interesting to see for how long it maintains its reign.