Honda Dio: Road Test Review
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The Honda Dio is back with a dash of freshness after the implementation of BSIV norms, but is that enough for it to still remain the youth icon it has been?
The Dio has been around for even longer than we can remember now and has been a favourite among college goers ever since, thanks to its striking and edgy design that worked wonders back then and to some extent, even today.
To keep up with the interests of young buyers, the Dio has evolved gradually over the years, with the latest update coming in the form of BSIV. But in a day and age where college goers are spoilt for choices, we need to find out if the Dio can still hold its own.
Without deviating much from the Dio’s basic styling DNA, Honda has put in some generous efforts to amplify its style quotient with chiseled body lines and smooth edges that give it a more sporty and masculine stance. Unlike the previous update that the Dio received in 2012 (with no graphics), the latest one has a good balance of graphics and two-tone paint scheme. Housed inside the front apron is the iconic wide headlight with integrated clear-lens indicators on either sides, which gives the scooter its own identity. A new addition that enhances the Honda Dio’s sporty look further, is the V-shaped LED DRLs placed on the front end of the handlebar cowl. The mirrors provide adequate visibility of the rear with only a small portion of your arms coming in the way. The analogue speedometer and fuel gauge have been placed in separate pods and make for an uncluttered look, while the switches and levers operate decently. There is also a rear brake lock clamp on offer, but then it can only be operated with both hands, making the experience cumbersome.
The single-tone seat is wide enough to accommodate two and is rounded off by a flat and a wide single piece pillion grab rail that is carried over from the earlier model. Underneath the seat are sleek side panels that merge fluidly with the rear that sports a neatly styled brake light cluster with integrated indicators. Part of the new update are the set of new graphics with Dio branding, which add a bit of freshness to an otherwise untampered design that remains sporty even today.
Does it have the grunt to match the styling?
Underneath the long and wide seat, sits an engine that has grown in cubic capacity from the 102cc powerplant that powered the first generation Dio to the 109.19cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder motor that powers the current model. However, there’s no difference in performance with 8PS generated at 7,000rpm and 8.91 Nm generated at 5,500rpm. What really holds the Dio back is the variomatic transmission, which takes time to engage and deliver all the power to the rear wheel. As a result, 0-60kmph is achieved in 9.36 seconds, which is relatively less than the 110cc TVS Wego that offers similar power and torque figures but gets a more potent CVT gearbox that engages from the word go. As a result, the Wego can do the 0-60kmph stint in 8.81 seconds. However, once the Dio gets going, it proves to be quicker in the kickdown from 20-80kmph, which is achieved in 19.64 seconds, making it quicker than the Wego that clocks the same in 20.85 seconds.
Is it more efficient then?
Fortunately, yes! In fact, it’s one of the most fuel-efficient scooters we have tested. The Honda Dio returns an impressive 55kmpl in city riding conditions, which increases to 59.5kmpl when ridden on the highway.
What about the ride quality and handling?
Ergonomically, the Dio too offers typical scooter-like seating posture i.e. upright and relaxed. One thing though, which has been a pain to deal with here and even on the earlier generation Dios, is the footrest design for the pillion. And this makes the Dio an uncomfortable place for a pillion. Also, while the seat itself is quite comfortable, taller riders need to be aware of the handlebar hitting their knees while making sharp turns and U-turns.
From a scooter’s standpoint, the Dio still comes across as a potent handling package. It also feels quite nimble when changing directions, which inspires confidence while darting in and out of traffic.
We were hoping to see telescopic forks with the new update, but to keep costs in check, the company continues to offer bottom link suspension up front, while the rear gets a monoshock. Both suspension units are set on the stiffer side. So the last thing you want to do is take the Honda Dio on badly broken roads as you will end up experiencing every single bump.
There’s no change on the braking front either as the updated model also gets 130mm drum brakes at both ends, which offer decent feedback under hard braking. As a result, the Dio comes to a halt from 60kmph in 22.55 metres, which even though isn't bad, could have been better with a front disc brake on offer (even as an option). As is the norm across the entire Honda scooter range, the Honda Dio also gets Combi Brake System, which is a boon for amateur riders. The grip offered by the 90/100 section front and rear tubeless tyres, on the 10-inch wheels, under hard braking is also quite decent. But the grip seems to fade off while pushing the scooter to its limits during cornering.
Coming to the practical bits
Practicality on a scooter is always associated with storage spaces and features that make living with them less of a hassle. On that front, thanks to a flat floorboard that’s wider than the one seen on the Cliq, the new Dio offers a decent amount of legroom. However, it fails to provide enough room for keeping a college bag without coming in the way of your feet. Adding to the utility factor, there is also 18 litres of underseat storage on offer but then again it's only big enough for a half-face helmet and some knick-knacks. A new addition comes in the form of a mobile charging point, which is a handy feature. But newer scooters have spoilt us, raising our expectations with small touches of convenience features. And this is where we feel the Dio misses out on bits like a remote seat opener, small storage cubbies on the front apron, external fuel lid or even an underseat storage lamp.
Honda’s formula for the Dio hasn’t changed too much over its long and illustrious lifespan. But competition has improved immensely over time and are now offering great looking scooters like the Yamaha Ray ZR, which pack a lot more features and better equipment.
So the game has most definitely changed and except for the way the Honda Dio looks, which is still great, it has started feeling a bit dated in quite a few ways.
The only saving grace is its price tag of Rs 49,849 (ex-showroom, Delhi), which undercuts most of its rivals. No wonder then, that it’s still a favourite amongst college goers. But all things said and done, we really think it’s time Honda seriously considered upgrading the Dio with the much needed tools to keep it in the fray.
Words by: Karan Narsu
Photography by: Vikrant Date