This is the new Honda Activa 6G and it has a tough job at hand – to continue the long-running streak of its predecessors at being India’s best-selling scooter. With the onset of BS6 emission norms approaching, Honda has readied the Activa for the big change while adding another 'G' in its name. And the changes are not limited just to the engine but the design, features and cycle parts have also been overhauled.
But now the question is, do the updates promise retention of an unhindered sales dominance amongst all the scooters in India? We went out on a spin on the new Honda Activa 6G to answer this very question.
At first glance, the new Activa looks identical to its predecessor, with only the ‘6G’ badge being the main differentiator. A close inspection reveals that the handlebar cowl, front apron and the rear panels have received a minor nip and tuck. Now, look beyond the bodywork and you can notice that a larger 12-inch front wheel and telescopic forks have replaced the previous 10-inch wheel and trailing-link suspension.
While the new Activa retains its decent fit and finish across plastic panels, what continues to exude a rugged appeal are the metal underseat panels and front fender, which happen to be one of its USPs.
The long list of features in the BS6 Activa 125 had us expecting a similar treatment for the Activa 6G. On the contrary, the only new add-ons in the latter are an external fuel filler cap, an engine start-stop switch and a silent starter. In fact, Honda has done away with LED headlamp for the standard variant and it is now available only in the deluxe trim. What’s more, both variants miss out on a semi-digital instrument cluster offered in the deluxe edition of the 5G model.
Uplifting the convenience factor is a dual-function switch at the front which doubles up as an opener for seat and external fuel lid. At times, we struggled to get the switch to operate as it would respond only after jabbing three-four times, especially for opening the seat. Also, the external fuel filler undoubtedly makes life easier but the locking mechanism of its metal cap felt somewhat flimsy.
Where the Activa has improved is in the hardware department. After the old-school trailing-link setup handling damping duties for 19 years straight, Honda has finally equipped the scooter with telescopic forks up front. This is added by a larger 12-inch wheel on the front while the rear continues with a 10-inch unit. The wheelbase and ground clearance have also increased marginally.
Carrying on with the displacement of 109cc, the carbureted fueling of the Activa has made way for fuel-injection to cut down on emissions, as required for BS6 compliance. This has resulted in a slight drop in its power figures, from 8bhp and 9Nm to 7.6bhp and 8.79Nm.
Hop on the Activa 6G and the first thing you’ll notice, if you’ve ridden the 5G, that the increased ground clearance has resulted in a slightly higher set footboard. This translates into your knees obstructing the handlebar movement while taking U-turns. Barring that, the overall ergonomics continue to be neutral and comfortable.
Push the starter button and the new Activa comes to life with no drama (cranking noises) at all, thanks to the new ACG silent starter. Refinement has always been the name of the game with the Activa’s engine and it continues to be its strong point. The engine remains buttery smooth until 60kmph, post which minor vibes creep in on the footboard, but they are negligible. Off the line, the Activa feels as peppy as its predecessor but roll-on acceleration is where the performance is slightly mellow. However, it is still quick enough for easy overtakes in traffic.
Coming to the handling, the new Activa feels considerably more agile while flicking through traffic and switching lanes. It responds much quicker to steering inputs which is a substantial improvement over the vague-feeling front end of the previous models. Going fast through corners also inspires confidence now.
Courtesy of the telescopic forks and larger front wheel, the ride quality is substantially plusher. It gracefully gobbles up minor undulations such as small potholes and road joints. But then, go fast over a tall bump or deep pothole and you’re greeted with a hard jolt at the back. Mind you, the rear suspension is the same stiff setup. The brakes of the new Activa continue to be adept as the combi-braking system prevents locking up of wheels for the most part. Albeit, the front could do with more bite and feel.
With its price starting at Rs 63,912 (ex-showroom), the new Activa 6G is around Rs 8,000 more expensive now. However, for that premium, you get a scooter with an incredibly refined engine, better handling and plusher ride quality than the outgoing model. Although you do get new features for added convenience, you sadly lose out on basic elements such as a digital display which comes as a standard fitment in a majority scooters these days. Similarly, other fundamental constituents like front storage pockets, underseat light and USB charger would have justified the price hike even more. Overlooking these setbacks, the new Activa is still the no-nonsense and purposeful ride the Indian audience have come to love for years.
Photography by Kapil Angane