Honda Navi vs Honda Activa 3G: Comparison Review
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The Honda Navi ushers in an entirely new class of two-wheelers in the country. But will its radically different positioning prove to be its undoing, or will it stand up tall against the wildly popular Honda Activa 3G, the scooter it shares its heart with?
Sad as it is, growing up in life is all about making compromises here and there. Where we all would like to jump on the latest stonking 200cc-plus bike as soon as we lay our hands on our first driving license, reality has a habit of bringing us down to earth. More often than not, we are dependent on our parents’ grace not just for buying our first pair of wheels, but for their fuel and daily running costs. Then there’s the fact that our parents view motorcycles as inherently dangerous – the more powerful it is, the more dangerous it is too.
Which is why, in most cases, we are left with scooters as our first pair of motorised transport in the country. It is easy to see why: scooters are not only easy to ride, but are supremely comfortable and convenient for daily uses. But there’s a new kid on the block, and it is something we have never seen before in the country. Meet the Honda Navi.
Sure, the Navi shares its engine with the tried and tested and wildly popular Honda Activa 3G, but does that – and the reassuring Honda badge – guarantee it success in our infuriatingly conservative market? That’s what we are here to find out today.
Design and Features:
Honda Navi: 4/5
Honda Activa 3G: 3.5/5
This one is a pretty cut and dry situation. Forget the Activa 3G, or any other scooter, the Navi looks like nothing else the Indian market has ever seen, especially with that gaping hole where the engine traditionally sits in a motorcycle. Yes, it looks puny when parked next to some – okay, all – of the mean machines that arrive at our office parking on a regular basis, but that is exactly what sets it apart from the rest of the crop and makes it so refreshing to behold.
There’s nothing fancy or frivolous on the Navi; it is all business. The instrument cluster is simple and there’s no fuel gauge, which could be a problem if you’re planning to take it for long jaunts, considering the small fuel tank capacity of 3.8 litres. Thankfully, there’s a reserve knob on the plastic body, so you do get intimated before it all runs out. The fuel cap itself is hidden under a faux carbon fibre-like plastic panel, and there’s some space small enough to carry cleaning clothes and rags.
Switchgear is also a simple affair on the Navi. There’s no pass light or engine kill switch, but what is there on the handlebars are of good quality, even though they look two generations old. As with most cruisers, the key hole for locking the handlebars is positioned below the head stock, which could be annoying for someone used to the convenience of doing it from the ignition key hole itself.
The Activa 3G, on the other hand, has a safe and solid design that has managed to stay modern to date, and still find its share of takers. Its innocuous style is meant to appeal to housemakers and collegegoers alike, and its metallic body is a nice contrast to the plastic-clad Navi. It also boasts tubeless tyres, and Honda’s Combi-brake system. The Activa 3G also boasts more storage space, including an underseat compartment that’s good for a half-face helmet, hooks to hang shopping bags, and an optional storage box.
That said, although our test unit didn’t come with it, the Navi also comes with an optional storage box mounted where the engine would’ve been in a motorcycle. It should be a great accessory for daily use, and also, in our opinion, bolsters up the minibike’s looks considerably. Moreover, Honda will soon be introducing a diverse range of customisation options, so that should take care of the looks, should you desire so.
Engine & Performance:
Honda Navi: 4/5
Honda Activa 3G: 3.5/5
Thanks to its predominantly plastic body the Navi, at 101 kilos, weighs a full 7 kgs lighter than the Activa 3G. This obviously has a big effect on machines this light and small-engined, which is why it comes as no surprise that the Navi is the brisker performer of the two, despite sharing the same 109.2cc 4-cylinder air-cooled engine that puts out 8.1PS and 8.8Nm.
Top speeds of both machines are in the same ballpark of around 85 kmph, though. The difference here while whacking the throttle open till the stop is mainly psychological. With the Activa you are constantly aware of being perched on a scooter, so when the speedo needle stops inching forward, you know you’re done. With the Navi, though, you feel like you’re on a motorcycle and so, above speeds of 60 kmph, you start searching for that non-existent last gear, only to be reminded that there’s none.
Both the Navi and Activa are refined machines through and through, but the Activa has a slight edge in this regard, thanks in part to its fully covered engine. Above speeds of 65/70 kmph, vibrations start to creep into the Navi’s ‘bars, although the rubber-mounted footpegs do a great job of keeping them away from your feet.
Despite its better overall fuel efficiency figure of 62 kmpl, the puny 3.8 litre fuel tank means that the Navi is as severely limited as any scooter when it comes to range, being able to run just 235 km before needing a fuel stop. The Activa, with its 5.3 litre fuel tank and overall fuel efficiency figure of 56 kmpl, will go on for almost 300 km on a single tankful.
Ride, Handling & Braking:
Honda Navi: 4.5/5
Honda Activa 3G: 3/5
The biggest advantage that the Navi has over the Activa when it comes to ride and handling are its 12-inch front wheels and the motorcycle-like telescopic forks up front. These impart the Navi with handling that, while not on par with most motorcycles, is certainly better than any scooter, including the Activa. The single-sided swingarm and monoshock at the back are also more softly sprung on the Activa, giving the Navi a more pliant ride. It soaks up bumps and potholes on the road without a whimper, but the rear does have a tendency to bottom out when you push it to its limits.
The brakes, also employing the motorcycle-like right hand lever/right foot combo, are good enough to bring the Navi to a dead halt from the speeds it can do, but we would’ve appreciated Honda’s Combi-brake system here too.
By contrast, the Activa rides a little stiffer thanks to its old-school trailing suspension setup up front. The limited travel in the suspension and 10-inch wheels at both ends means that it is not as forgiving as the Navi. It isn’t something that most riders would notice on daily use, and they can be perfectly happy living with it, but the difference in ride quality is palpable once you’ve ridden the Navi hard.
While we see quite a lot of youngsters eyeing the Navi for some spirited riding, no one can blame the Activa for not having handling to match the minibike. Although limited by its suspension and tyres, the Activa is a neutral handler and the perfect seating/handlebar/footboard geometry means that you can trust it to get the job done without a fuss. The Navi’s narrow seat can be a detracting factor for bigger or taller riders and the Activa scores in this regard.
Pillion riders, especially those of the larger variety, will also be more comfortable on the Activa, thanks to its wider seat and footpegs that are well-spaced from the rider’s footboard. On the Navi, the rider’s feet have a tendency to come into contact with the pillion’s a bit too frequently, something that can become a minor annoyance if you’re used to travelling two-up most of the time.
The Activa 3G also employs Honda’s Combi-brake system, which essentially works like a purely mechanical and cruder version of ABS. What it does is, it applies the front brake too when you dab the rear brake a little too hard, thus distributing braking force more evenly. This setup, although not as effective as ABS, lessens the chances of skidding due to improper brake distribution. It has been around on Honda’s scooters for some time now, and they’ve perfected it and it works pretty well, bringing the Activa to a surefooted halt every time.
Honda Navi: 4/5
Honda Activa 3G: 3.5/5
Both the Navi and Activa 3G comes from the stable of Honda India, subsidiary of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer. Being a Honda guarantees solid engine refinement, reliability, and a widespread sales and service network. In fact, the Activa has just recently become the biggest selling two-wheeler in the country, putting an end to the seventeen-year long dominance of motorcycles on the sales chart. That alone speaks volumes about its enduring popularity, something that shows no signs of abating anytime soon. It is reliable and has a versatility that would put every other scooter on sale to shame. From teenagers to elderly women, the Activa caters to everyone equally well. But its popularity is also its double-edged sword, and you can spot the Activa just about everywhere in India, dampening the mood for those who want a bit of exclusivity.
The Navi, on the other hand, is a gamble for Honda, a manufacturer that has sometimes been, unfairly, blamed for being sober and making conservative choices. It is radically different, yes, but underneath that slick and shiny minibike skin, it serves the same purpose as the scooter. That means that it is a great urban commuter, and a stylish and fun one at that. College goers and those looking for their first pair of wheels will appreciate the Navi’s ability to turn heads like no scooter. On the other hand, housewives, and the fairer sex in general, might be put off by the Navi’s decidedly masculine looks, its lack of space, and real-world practicality.
The Activa 3G retails for Rs 53,716, while the Navi will set you back by Rs 42,824 (both ex-showroom, Mumbai). With that significant price advantage in mind, the Navi is the winner of our comparo, despite its slightly smaller focus.