Ever since Honda introduced the Activa in 2000, it has managed to get a tight noose in the automatic scooter segment. And although it continues to dominate the market, over time a lot more avenues have opened up for manufacturers to exploit. This class of two wheelers is no longer simply categorised by engine and efficiency but by form and function as well. While there are young and stunning offerings out there like the Honda Dio and the Suzuki Swish, the other end of the spectrum comprises scooters like the Activa and the Mahindra Duro DZ which appeal to a more mature audience.
In addition to these, a new trend of smaller and much more compact scooters is gradually cutting its way into the, well, cut-throat market. In a bid to make the most out of this sub-segment and expand on the well trusted ‘Activa’ tag, Honda has brought in the new Activa i. But can the ‘i’ live up to its family name and, perhaps, exalt it further?
i for small
Despite the big H pitching the Activa i as a unisex scooter, it is smaller and sleeker than the Activa making it a better fit for the fairer sex. The slim front fascia with the clear lens turn indicators and the leaning headlight make the scooter appear fresh. The arc shaped side panels that blend well into the tail lights host the Activa i badge. Even though the dimensions are similar to the Activa, the younger offering is much lighter thanks to its fibre body panels. It is also marginally longer (30mm) than the Activa, but still the floorboard is big enough to rest just the foot, leave aside the front storage box that’s available as an option on the Activa. The seat, however, is long enough to seat two comfortably.
Like all scooters, this too has a basic instrument cluster with an analogue speedo and a fuel gauge. Switch gear is par for the course while the handle bars are well positioned for a good riding posture. Under the seat, the Activa i has 18 litres of storage space. The new offering also comes with a tyre hugger for the rear wheel. The overall look and feel is good but it could have done wonders with better quality plastics.
Underneath the skin the Activa i hosts the same engine as on the new Activa – a 109.2cc four-stroke air-cooled mill with the patented Honda Eco Technology. Needless to say the power output also remains the same at 8.1PS @ 7,500 rpm and 8.74Nm @ 5,500rpm. Mated to a V-matic transmission, the Activa i has good low and mid-range boost which makes it a breeze to ride in the city. In our tests it touched the 60km/h mark from standstill in a respectable 8.43seconds which is a tad faster than the Activa, and also recorded a top speed of 88.28km/h.
The 130mm dia drum brakes up front and the Combi brakes of the same size at the back, work well in bringing the scooter to a halt from 60km/h in just 17.25metres. Of course, this has also got a lot to do with the 90/100 10-inch MRF Zapper tubeless tyres at the front as well as the rear, which ensure that the rider feels confident even under heavy braking. In terms of performance, the Activa i meets all expectations from a scooter from the Honda stable and, more importantly, the Activa family.
This is one factor Honda has a major advantage over other manufacturers and with the Activa i they have once again stamped their superiority. In a market like India where fuel costs are increasing by the day, the efficiency of the scooter undoubtedly makes massive difference in the buying decision of the consumer. And this has been addressed very well with the proven Honda Eco Technology that diminishes the fuel consumption massively by reducing friction and the weight of engine components continues to be a game changer.
The Activa i returned an impressive 54.2kmpl in the trafficky conditions of the city and 56.4kmpl on the highway, resulting in an overall figure of 54.7 kmpl. A 5.3 litre fuel tank means the scooter can do a long haul of almost 300km in a tank of fuel.
On the road
So how good is the Activa i to ride on bumpy and rough roads? The light weight body and the scooter’s nimble nature ensure that it can cut its way through traffic without a hassle. We even rode the scooter on the ghats en route Lavasa and it felt more than comfortable taking them on even at relatively high speeds.
While the stiff nature of the spring loaded hydraulic type suspension up front as well as at the back makes it fun to toss around corners, the same characteristic becomes a pain when riding through the rough potholed city streets. One can feel a rather bothersome judder on the handle bars even when you’re riding over just rumble strips.
Honda has made all the right moves with the launch of the Activa i, especially taking into consideration the fact that it is priced at Rs 44,200 (ex-showroom Delhi) which is almost Rs 3,000 cheaper than the Activa. No doubt that in a price sensitive market like ours, the difference in cost definitely has an equivalent effect in the buying decision. The Japanese two-wheeler manufacturer has also played a very smart and safe strategy by capitalising on the already established Activa brand.
That said, with the Activa i they now have an offering that’s focused primarily at women, which was indeed the one thing missing from their stable. And there is no doubting the capabilities of the scooter in terms of an all-round product particularly with the peppy engine, the great efficiency that comes along with the HET badge and most importantly the quintessential Honda reliability. But can it emulate the Activa’s success? That’s still a long way ahead but Honda definitely seems to have cast its ‘i’ in the right direction!