Honda Grazia: Road Test Review
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Honda India literally has no realm of the scooter world left unconquered. So where does the snazzy Grazia fit into its master plan?
About three decades ago, Chetak meant scooters. About two decades ago, Scooty meant scooters. Today, Activa means scooters. All scooters.
Such is the popularity of the Honda Activa that it has now become synonymous with virtually every scooter sold in India in the last decade or so. This soberly styled and tank-like reliable Japanese offering has stood at the top of the monthly sales charts for more than a year now, and brings in numbers for its manufacturer that would make the competition scream in despair.
Of course, it isn't the only ace up HMSI’s sleeve, but it is by far the most important. And, with the street cred that the “Activa” name brings, it is only understandable that Honda would want to create something a bit bigger and more powerful to take on the 125cc-engined scooters. That’s how the Activa 125 came in, to take the fight to the Suzuki Access 125. But what if you don’t really like either and instead are in the market for a slightly different offering - something that’s styled more radically, boasts a plethora of new-age features and generally appeals to the younger crowd? Well, that’s where the Grazia comes in.
Design and Features:
Despite its radical new styling, the Honda Grazia isn’t an all-new product from the ground up. It shares its underpinnings and a lot of parts with, you guessed it, the Honda Activa 125. But gone is the all-metal body, replaced by an all-plastic one that should prove to be cheaper to maintain come those inevitable dings and scratches.nFrom the front, your attention is immediately arrested by the Grazia’s standout feature: that large all-LED headlamp - a first for any Indian scooter. The pilot lamps and low beam stay on at all times, and a strip of matte black plastic in the middle serves to offset some of the visual mass. However, the LEDs have a short throw and beam spread, and don’t really provide much added confidence while riding in the dark, especially in tight corners on narrow, unlit roads.
It is from the side profile that the Grazia poses at its most flattering angle. With its windswept lines, chrome embossed “Grazia” badge and aftermarket-inspired “Honda” sticker on the floorboard, the Grazia looks every bit as snazzy and sporty as its makers intended. The tail light isn’t an LED affair like at the front; instead the standout feature at the back is the large split grab rail that’s easy for the pillion rider to hold on to.
There are two fully digital displays for the instrumentation, backlit in soft red and blue, and an economy mode indicator too, something we’ve seen on fuel efficiency-focused two-wheelers in the country for some time now. The Grazia is the first scooter from Honda to feature a tachometer, which is kind of unnecessary on a CVT-powered machine. That said, it is still a nice touch that adds some bragging rights and serves to make the scooter stand out.
One of the Grazia’s more novel additions is the seat open/lock switch beside the ignition keyhole. While we would’ve preferred an external fuel filler cap even more, we’re certainly glad that it negates the need of a separate lock for the underseat storage compartment. However, Honda’s choice of handbrake lock design is strange at best. It is a pain to engage, needing both hands, and we wish the company had stuck with the old, tried and tested design for the same.
The Grazia also comes with a small storage compartment at the front with a socket for a USB charger. The compartment can take a couple of smartphones and your wallet but we wish its interior had been lined with some soft material to prevent scratches on your phone. And while it certainly beats having a charging port in the underseat storage space, the fact that it isn't lockable decreases its utility for storing precious items. Moreover, the charging port itself costs Rs 500 and isn't included as standard kit with the Grazia even in its top-end version.
There’s a hook below the seat that comes in handy for hanging shopping bags and your odd gear. You can accommodate a half-face or a really tiny full-face helmet at best in the underseat storage area, but most office backpacks and laptop bags should not be a problem.
Performance & Efficiency:
If you’re eyeing the Grazia with the hope that its (slightly) bigger engine and plastic body will endow it with the poke to go with the show, forget about it. Like its underpinnings, the Grazia also shares its single-cylinder air-cooled 124.9cc engine with the Activa 125, and produces similar figures of 8.6PS at 6,500rpm and 10.54Nm at 5,000rpm. Honda Eco Technology, standard on all its current scooters, makes its presence here too. Unless we are talking about those crazy Italians, it is safe to say that a scooter, even a 125cc one, wouldn't exactly be made with the intention of slashing lap times at your local track. And that holds true for the Grazia too.
From standstill it will lug its 107-kilo kerb weight (lighter than the Activa 125 by just 1 kg) to 60kmph in 9.03 seconds, and go all the way to a top speed of 90 kmph. Not enthusiastic numbers, but not something that you’d complain about either. There is a slight judder of its whole plastic body as the Grazia pushes off from standstill - as if it is struggling to gather steam - but once you’re in motion, it goes about its duties without any fuss.
Ride at a steady speed between 30-50kmph for around two and a half seconds and the three LEDs on the Eco Mode Indicator light up in unison, indicating that you’re extracting the best fuel efficiency out of the scooter. In our standardised fuel efficiency runs, the Grazia returned a figure of 46.7kmpl in the city and 48.4kmpl on the highway. With its 5.3-litre fuel tank, that translates into a real-world range of around 250km.
Ride & Handling:
The Honda Grazia rides on 90/90 and 90/100 tyres at the front and rear respectively, mounted on your choice of black alloy wheels or grey steel rims measuring 12” at the front and 10” at the rear. You get either MRF and Ceat tyres and ours came with the former, which are slightly grippier and more premium. The Grazia tips into turns quickly but, as with any other scooter in its segment, isn’t going to blow you away with exceptional handling. It’s not an Aprilia SR150, this! That said, it feels nimble enough to work its way through traffic with ease and manages to not feel jittery when changing direction quickly.
Coming to comfort, the seat cushioning is on the softer side but there is ample of space for both the rider and pillion. The alloy footrests for the pillion are chunky and placed well to offer a relaxed seating position, without hindering the rider’s legs in crawling traffic conditions. Ride quality is a bit jarring as the telescopic front forks and the rear monoshock are set up on the stiffer side. Due to this the rider and the pillion can feel some shocks to their lower backs while tackling potholes and sharp bumps. Mild undulations, however, are not much of a concern on the Grazia. With my modest height, I had no problems maneuvering the Grazia around in traffic or at parking-lot speeds but my taller colleagues complained of their knees hitting the handlebar whenever it was turned all the way to either lock.
Our top-end test vehicle came with a 190mm front disc brake but a 130mm drum unit handles braking duties at both ends in the standard variant. This combo hauled the Honda from 60 kmph to a dead stop in 18.03 metres. That’s a pretty respectable number for this class, although nothing ground-breaking. The brakes feel a little spongy and could do with more initial bite. Also, the brakes don’t provide too much feel. Nevertheless, thanks to Honda’s Combi-Brake System, the Grazia will prove to be reassuring for amatuer riders in panic braking situations.
With an ex-showroom price of Rs 57,897 for the standard variant, Rs 59,827 for the alloy wheel variant and Rs 62,269 for the deluxe variant (alloy wheels and disc brake), the Grazia is priced in the same range as the Activa 125. However, it still costs around Rs 4.5k to 7k more over its equivalent Suzuki Access 125 variants, and that could be a big deciding factor for anyone in the market for a 125cc scooter.
This market is still in its early stage but it is also the one with the highest potential for growth right now, seeing as how the 100-110cc segment is already feeling saturated. And that might be enough for college goers to dig a bit deeper into their - well, parents’ - pockets to step up into the 125cc space or higher. And in this space, what the Grazia has going for it is its sleek styling, impeccable city manners and plethora of segment-first features. That said, though its flashy styling might suggest otherwise, it doesn’t offer a sporty experience by any means. But once you’re past that expectation of performance, it really makes a lot of sense for someone looking for a scooter that looks great and goes well.
Words: Saeed Akhtar
Photography: Vikrant Date