Honda Activa 6G BS6: First Ride
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A considerable premium is inevitable when it comes to BS6 two-wheelers. But has Honda offered enough upgrades to justify the price hike?
The Honda Activa is probably the first thing that comes to the mind of laymen when asked about a scooter. Tallying at least over a lakh units every month consistently for years is no easy feat. In fact, a few years ago, it even became the country’s highest-selling two-wheeler on a couple of occasions. Thanks to its sheer brand recall, the Activa has pretty much become a household name in India.
While the Activa maybe people’s champion when it comes to the world of scooters, we'd be hard-pressed to call it the best scooter in its segment. The Activa 6G is Honda’s latest attempt at making some much-needed improvements, while at the same time complying with the upcoming BS6 emission norms. Has Honda succeeded at this then?
- Finally gets a telescopic front fork
- Packs a very refined motor
- Also gets an external fuel filler
- Weak performance
- No front disc, even as an option
- Neither USB charging port nor boot light as an option.
- The telescopic fork is a welcome change and goes a long way in improving the Activa’s ride quality.
- The ACG starter provides supremely silent and smooth starts.
- External fuel filler adds a much-needed dose of convenience.
Customers in the mass-market two-wheeler segment in India are quite conservative about how they want their two-wheeler to look. Classic examples are the Honda Activa and the Hero Splendor. Both have remained more or less the same in terms of design, but have racked up incredibly consistent sales numbers over decades and are the undisputed sales leaders in their respective segments.
Any drastic change in design can be shocking and might hamper brand recall for these conservative customers. The idea is to not mess with a formula that has worked so well for so many years and continues to work even today. So usually, changes are limited to minor updates. In the Honda Activa 6G, there’s a more pronounced crease at the bottom portion of the apron that flows into the front fender. The side body panel gets a single slit for ventilation in place of split ones. Thanks to the new external fuel filler, the rear looks broader than before and the tail lamp is a lot more pronounced.
Honda has managed to keep the seat height (764mm) more or less similar to the Activa 5G’s 765mm tall seat despite increasing the ground clearance from 153mm to an impressive 171mm. It’s easy to hop on or off and the riding ergonomics are upright. However, turning the handlebar lock to lock might intrude into the knees of taller people. It wasn’t an issue for shorter riders like me (I’m 5’5”). The seat cushioning has just the right amount of firmness to it and is roomy enough for both the rider and pillion. A detailed road test review will give us a fair idea as to how it is to live with.
Honda has increased the floorboard space by a generous 23mm. There was room to move around even with size 11 shoes. It will also be of use for carrying larger luggage, although we wouldn’t recommend overloading the floorboard.
Technology & Features:
Honda has tweaked the design a bit to accommodate the external fuel filler (a first for a 110cc Activa). The lid feels flimsy though. That being said, the external fuel filler greatly reduces the effort to refuel compared to underseat fuel fillers, which force you to get off the scooter. The fuel filler cap can be opened via the apron-mounted switch, making it all the more convenient. Interestingly, despite relocating the fuel inlet, the underseat storage has remained unchanged at 18 litres. Unfortunately, there’s no boot light or even a USB port as an option. Also, Honda’s accessory apron-mounted basket looks very tacky. I am confident that people will pay a bit more and get a third-party lockable ABS plastic compartment.
Another grinch is, Honda has replaced the lockable hook with an open one below the seat. This can make some people really nervous about hooking up groceries if they’re going over bad roads. The apron section continues to use an open hook.
The instrument cluster is an all-analogue unit, with a speedometer and a fuel gauge. The brand has done away with a semi-digital layout (available in Activa 5G DLX variant). To be honest, the geek in me would've preferred a real-time mileage indicator on an analogue-digital console rather than an ACG starter. I don't mind cranking up a motor traditionally. But to each his own. That said, the ACG starter works magically well. Press the starter button and the motor comes to life silently and in an instant! The switchgear and the overall build quality feel pretty solid, plus you get an all-metal bodywork for extra toughness. Honda has also finally equipped the scooter with a pass beam switch -- a first for the 110cc Activa. It is integrated into the high-low beam switch.
Engine & Performance:
In a nutshell, the motor works exactly how it should. The Activa is a city runabout. That means it’s not happy being ridden too fast. Stick to under 60-65kmph, and the motor doesn’t complain one bit. There's a nice surge in acceleration up until 40kmph but the momentum thins down from then on. It is best used in tight urban spaces. While the fuel-injection smoothens out the throttle response, it feels a little too stifled in terms of progression. The rate of acceleration feels more or less the same no matter how much you open the throttle. Here are the numbers:
But oh my, the refinement! The motor is so smooth that it feels like a hot knife slicing through a block of butter. Even when the engine was stretched to its absolute limit it kept its calm with just a tingle of quiver from the floor board. The Activa 6G truly deserves the Honda badge.
The Japanese auto giant claims the new fuel-injected BS6-compliant engine offers 10 per cent more mileage than the Honda Activa 5G. We got an impressive 58.1kmpl in the city and an equally commendable 55kmpl on the highway in our real-world test of the Activa 5G. Even if we take a realistic estimate of half of Honda’s claimed efficiency improvement, you’ll still be able to (theoretically) get 61kmpl in the city and a reassuring 57.75kmpl on the highway on the new Activa! But for a concrete answer, you’ll have to wait till we find out in our detailed review.
Ride & Handling:
Honda has FINALLY equipped the twenty-one-year-old scooter with a telescopic fork! Acche din aa gaye! But not entirely though. While the ride quality is leaps and bounds better than the woefully obsolete, rudimentary trailing link suspension of the 5G, it is still a little on the harsh side. One workaround is that you can tweak the 3-stage preload-adjustable single shock absorber to the softer side, which should help the ride quality become a little more supple, at least at the rear.
The chassis feels very well balanced, as I was able to take tight ‘figure of eights’ gleefully. Even high-speed stability is commendable, thanks to the larger 12-inch front wheel (takes a really long time to get to high speeds, though).
Honda seems to have to have gone the ‘why-fix-something-that-ain’t-broke’ route for the brakes. They’re the same as the ones on the Activa 5G. Pair this with the increased rolling inertial of a larger front wheel and you’ll realise that this 6G is a wee bit harder to stop. There’s a trace of weakness in the bite from the front brake too. The rear drum works brilliantly though, thanks to the smaller 10-inch steel wheel. And Honda doesn’t offer a front disc even as an option. As disappointing it may be, it is understandable considering that would require alloys to fit in the disc brake assembly, since steel wheels don’t get disc mounting points. As usual, the CBS works quite well. You will just have to tighten the adjustment screws regularly, though.
The 90-section MRF tyres offer decent grip and fit the bill rather well. You also won’t have to worry about scraping the underbody either, as it comes with a 171mm ground clearance -- claimed to be the highest in segment.
There are two variants on offer: the Activa 6G Standard model and the DLX variant. The former makes do with a halogen headlamp whereas the latter gets an LED unit as standard. Honda offered a better deal in the Activa 5G: an LED headlight as standard across both the variants.
But apart from the headlamp type, everything else is common between both the variants. The standard version costs Rs 63,912 whereas the DLX model will set you back by Rs 65,412 (Rs 1,500 more). All prices are ex-showroom Delhi. For a detailed breakdown about the Activa 6G’s variants, head here.
Honda had to eventually launch a next-generation Activa to meet the upcoming emission norms. And this time, it has offered more than what it did in the past. For around Rs 7,600 to almost Rs 8,000, the added tech and features command good value for money for a discerning buyer. It feels much more well-rounded than before. There are a few rough edges, though -- particularly in the practicality department. But those could be fixed by offering better accessories at the least.
Overall, the Activa 6G offers a much smoother engine, better claimed fuel efficiency, as well as slightly improved handling and ride quality, ensuring that it fills the shoes of its predecessor rather well. Plus, Honda now offers a three-year standard warranty with the option to extend it up to three more years. So, that makes the venerable scooter a worry-free investment for personal transportation.