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Honda Activa 125 (India’s 1st BS-6 Compliant Scooter) : Expert Review

Introduction

Pros : Refined engine, Comfortable seating, modern features
Cons : Rear brake lacks, complicated seat-opening mechanism

The folks in the authority of international environment control have pushed for cleaner air, resulting in the shift in India’s case, to the BS6 emission norms. While the mandate will only be implemented next year, Honda was early to the party and came with the Activa 125 BS6.

And apart from its environment-friendliness, the Honda Activa 125 BS6 also offers a ton of additional features and technology. Spending a couple of days with the scooter, we test it in various conditions to find out how different the BS6 version is and if the new tech makes life any easier.

Quality

Now, as compared to the previous-gen Activa 125, Honda has upped the level of quality. Take for instance, the handlebar grips that now have a grippy rubber finish. It is a welcome change compared to the plastic ones on the BS4 model. Then, there is the plastic around the instrument cluster and on the front apron which feels and looks more premium. The switchgear is tactile and easy to operate and the scooter boasts of a good built quality for the most part.

In terms of styling, the new Activa 125 sports subtle design tweaks that would take a keen eye to differentiate. The LED headlamp mounted on the steering unit is sleek while the LED DRLs look identical to the ones on the Honda Civic. Meanwhile, the scooter comes with sharp contours that hide the bulk of the rear section quite effectively.

Comfort

Visually, the Activa 125’s seat is huge, giving the impression that it can carry a small family with ease. And once astride, you know why. The seat also feels extremely comfortable, padded with a soft cushion that cradles the behind well and also provides enough support for the under thighs. The floorboard is spacious too. It has enough room to hold a couple of bags while leaving some room to move your feet around. And if there is some more luggage to carry, the hook on the front apron is at your service.

Moreover, the Activa comes with a glovebox besides the hook that is good for storing a wallet at the most. And although the box is a closed unit, it does not come with a lock. The scooter also comes with a net pouch on the edge of the seat that can be used to hold a phone. A smart touch, indeed. The new Activa 125 gets the same suspension hardware as the previous model but this time it has a slightly different setup. Mind you, the rear setup is still soft and kicks the rider on larger bumps but the ride feels more planted than before. With a pillion on board, the Activa’s suspension feels settled and takes on the bigger bumps without any drama.

The only area where the Activa loses out on points for comfort is the seat-opening mechanism. The scooter comes with a switch next to the ignition slot that opens the seat and the external fuel-filler cap without having to remove the key. While this feature is meant to ease the entire process, it was ironically difficult to do as the switch refused to press down on multiple instances. According to dealers, it affects most units of the new Activa 125 but thankfully, it can be rectified within a few minutes.

Performance

The main highlight of the new Activa 125 is the BS6-compliant engine. It gets a fuel-injection system which has resulted in a more refined and smoother sounding motor. It even benefits from an ACG starter which uses the same generator that charges the battery to start-up the engine, negating the need for a separate starter motor. Hence, there are no cranking noises and the engine comes to life in one touch of the electric start button. And thanks to the improved fuelling, the new Activa 125 is vibration-free even at its top speed of around 90kmph!

But all this refinement comes at the cost of performance. The 124cc engine produces 8.1bhp; which is 0.4bhp lesser than the BS4 version. The difference may not sound like much, but the Activa 125 feels unenthusiastic even with a full twist of the throttle, so overtaking in traffic requires a bit planning. However, the motor springs back to life upwards of 60kmph.

This, along with its easy handling abilities makes filtering through traffic quite a breeze. And for coming back to a halt, the top-spec variant employs a disc brake at the front which offers good feel and feedback. The rear drum brake, on the contrary, could do much better with more bite.

Technology

Honda has equipped the BS6 Activa 125 with all the necessary technology. To begin with, it features an LCD below the analog speedometer that shows current fuel efficiency, mileage, and range along with a trip meter, odometer, and clock. The instrument cluster also comes with a malfunction lamp and a side stand indicator with an engine inhibitor that prevents the motor from cranking up if the stand is down.

Honda has also added a start-stop system to the Activa’s list of features. The system shuts down the engine if it is left idle for more than 3 seconds thus saving fuel, especially at traffic signals. The Hero Maestro Edge 125 sports a similar feature too, but twist the throttle on the Honda and the system cranks up the engine immediately, without any lag or delay.

Fuel Efficiency

In a combined run on the highway and the city, the Activa returned an average of around 50-55kmpl. Given its tank capacity of 5.3 liters, the scooter is capable of running a decent 280kms on a single full tank.

Fitness of Purpose

If you are expecting the Activa 125 to be quick off the line or be on par with scooters like the Aprilia SR125 or TVS Ntorq 125, you’d be mighty disappointed. The Activa 125 wasn’t built to do any of that. In fact, it fits the bill perfectly for someone looking for a no-nonsense scooter that can comfortably accommodate a small family yet have enough room to store the groceries.

With prices starting at Rs 67,000 and going up to Rs 74,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the top-spec DLX variant, the Activa demands a premium over its rivals, the Suzuki Access 125 and the Hero Maestro Edge. But then, it also offers additional technology and features as compared to the other two.

Our Take

The Activa 125 BS6 could come with better braking power and feedback along with a less complicated mechanism for opening the seat. On the other hand, we were completely amazed by the level of refinement and smoothness the new Activa 125 offers. What’s more, it also sports better quality plastic, modern features, and a more premium feel overall, thereby adding great value to the package.

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