Photographs by Kartik Ware
Yes, you might have raised an eyebrow or two after reading the title, puzzled about how the highest-selling scooter in the country could be a last hope. Well, to be frank, regardless of what I, any other journalists or you, the reader, feel or think about the new Honda Activa 6G, it is a product that is just going to sell by itself. Period. It probably isn’t the best scooter out there, but it is the choice of the masses by huge leaps and bounds. To gain this level of trust is an absolute achievement and I completely respect it. But then again, there comes the part where it’s a manufacturer’s responsibility to make a successful product better by making it more robust, durable, efficient and feature-packed. Yes, the Activa 6G has definitely gained some positives, but also lost some in the course of its evolution.
If you had to place the new Activa 6G besides the outgoing 5G, there are only subtle design changes carried out from nose to tail. The 6G’s lines are slightly more defined and pronounced in comparison to the 5G. The version I rode was the Deluxe variant which features a redesigned all-LED headlamp (the standard version gets a halogen bulb) and an analogue instrument console as opposed to the semi-digital unit on the 5G Deluxe model. Why, Honda? Why not simply stick with the same setup? And if you thought that was the end of the issues, it isn’t. You see, one of the reasons why the Activa is a preferred choice of many is because of its metal body which gives it a premium feel over its plastic-bodied rivals.
However, Honda seems to have cut corners to save manufacturing costs, and the build quality of this scooter has sadly degraded. The fit and finish of the metal panels with the plastic ones doesn’t feel solid or long-lasting anymore. The body panels squeak on flexing, and that’s only going to amplify considering the general condition of roads to be dealt with. Not something you’d expect from the successor of a top-selling product.
With the negatives addressed, there are factors that Honda has finally taken into consideration and implemented. If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s the front end which now features a telescopic fork accompanied by a larger 12-inch wheel. It has been long awaited and the result can be felt instantaneously. The ride quality has improved by a huge margin as the setup is now more responsive, ironing out undulations to a large extent. The incorporation of the 12-inch wheel has further improved handling, and it inspires more confidence when tipping it into corners and while riding on potholed roads.
The folks at Honda have also upgraded the rear monoshock which is now three-way adjustable and can be set according to the rider’s preference. Moving further, there are a few additions like the pass switch and new engine-kill switch that were missed on the 5G, and new rear-view mirrors which now have a tightening screw to prevent them from drooping down as they age. Also new is the external fuel filler that makes life easier as one doesn’t need to get off the seat at the time of refuelling.
Now, one of the qualities that has always been associated with the Activa’s success is its tried-and-tested powertrain. While the formula has remained the same, Honda has further improved it by offering some of the features that are present on the Activa 125. Besides the incorporation of fuel-injection to comply with emission norms, the company has improved the air-fuel intake path for better combustion and efficiency. Now, adapting to more stringent norms has resulted in a slight drop in power, but Honda has addressed it by offering an ACG starter.
Before you start wondering, the ACG starter is basically using the alternator to double up as the starter motor. This eliminates the need for a dedicated starter unit and reduces a component for maintenance. The operation of the ACG starter is so smooth and quiet that you can easily crank the motor and sneak the scooter out for a covert exit strategy whenever the need arises.
Summing it up, the new Activa 6G looks like it will continue to sell in the millions and set new milestones on the way. The adaptation of fuel-injection and modern suspension after a long wait is highly appreciated. However, in the pursuit of making a well-accepted product more profitable, Honda seems to have ended up cutting corners, and I hope that doesn’t backfire. But in the end, it all comes down to the brand-loyal masses who will still continue to look beyond the shortcomings of the Activa over other products on offers. Still a win-win for Honda, it would appear.
Honda Activa 6G
Displacement: 109.51cc, single
Max power: 7.6 bhp@8000 rpm
Max torque: 0.89 kgm@5250 rpm
F/R: 130mm drum / 130mm drum
F/R: 90/90-R12 54J / 90/100-R10 53J
L/W/H (mm): 1833/697/1156
Wheelbase: 1260 mm
Ground clearance: 171 mm
Seat height: 692 mm
Kerb weight: 107 kg
Fuel capacity: 5.3 litres
PRICE: Rs 65,535 (Std)/ Rs 67,035 (Deluxe) (ex-showroom, Mumbai)