Scooters for long have been the unsung heroes of the two-wheeler segment, going about their duties, be it carrying loads, families or just helping out with the daily commutes. While earlier you had the humble Chetak and Vespa doing the job, scooters have evolved quite a bit since then. Variomatics have taken over and are not only much friendlier but also more fuel efficient and reliable as well. The Honda Activa has been ruling the roost since it came out in 2000 offering typical Honda refinement, simple but very reliable mechanicals and lots of practicality. The competition however is catching up and is almost on par in most categories with Honda. Mahindra has just launched an upgraded version of the Duro, christened the Duro DZ and aims to take the fight right up Honda's alley.
Design and style
Both the scooters here come from the conventional school of design. And that’s a good thing, considering their family oriented appeal. The new Duro DZ is essentially pretty similar to the previous DX version barring a few visual differences as far as the looks are concerned. The most apparent change is the headlamp. While the previous model shared the headlight with the Kinetic Nova, the DZ gets an all-new clear lens headlight which not only does a better job of illuminating the road but also looks a lot better. The front mudguard has also been tweaked to incorporate the telescopic suspension. The Activa received a major upgrade in 2009 which made it one of the best looking scooters in the market. Clean crisp lines along with European design cues still make this Honda a little more appealing of the two.
Engine and performance
Talking capacity, 110cc vs 125cc may make you think the Duro will run away from the Activa when it comes to performance considering the previous Duro DX was one of the quickest scooters in the market. However a slight detune to aid fuel efficiency means the new DZ has lost some of that grunt. The 124.6cc 4-stroke unit pushes out 8.1PS and a maximum torque of 9Nm. Comparatively the Activa makes 8PS and 8.82Nm. The almost identical power figures means there is nothing to choose as far as performance is concerned. However the Duro has a slight edge when it comes to the mid-range power delivery that makes overtaking relatively easier. The Activa on the other hand makes up with its ultra smooth power delivery and refinement. Slightly faster or slightly more refined, take your pick!
Suspension and Handling
The Duro DZ gets a major upgrade in the suspension department in the form of the telescopic front suspension. The earlier Duro DX suffered a great deal due to the trailing link suspension and bottomed out on almost every bump, making it a very nervous handler. With the new suspension however, the handling characteristics have been totally transformed. The telescopic suspension adds a lot of confidence in maneuvering the Duro at higher speeds and at the same time the bumps are also absorbed without upsetting the scooter too much. The Duro’s ground clearance has also been increased which means no more scraping speed- breakers even with a pillion on board.
The seating has also been revised with the new seat being lower and wider and the handlebar position, raised to accommodate riders of varying physiques. The Activa retains its bottom link front suspension and while it’s not as effective as the telescopic unit available in the Duro or its bigger sibling the Aviator, it has been set up extremely well giving the Activa some very surprising handling characteristics. While the Duro can take harsh bumps better, the Activa still has a much more pliant ride making it a more balanced handler compared to the Duro.
The slight detune means mileage is slightly better on the new Duro DZ. In our city runs, the Mahindra consistently returned 42kmpl while the Activa returned a slightly higher 45kmpl. However, the Duro has a larger 6-litre fuel tank which means a full tank will take you 252km before the next refill. The Activa with its 5.3-litre tank will only go 238km before you run out of fuel. Again, not much to differentiate the two.
It’s surprising how close these two are in terms of most parameters. The Duro DZ is now a much improved product and Mahindra has indeed done a great job by eradicating the previous model's flaws. However in the end, the Activa manages to inch ahead by a whisker owing to a better ownership experience. But even though the Activa gets the nod, it’s not easy to own one. Thanks to its popularity, the Honda has a waiting period of a minimum one and a half months. If you think that’s too long to wait, the Duro DZ is a worthy alternative. The icing on the cake is that the Duro is also Rs 2500 cheaper than the Activa, making the deal even sweeter. Take your pick!
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