Our first impression of the new Honda Cliq, a scooter designed right here, for rural India
Built tough for up-and-comers
We JuSt got off the new Honda Cliq after a quick test ride in Jaipur, close to its birthplace at HMSI’s Tapukara plant in Rajasthan. Here’s what we feel... Explaining the idea behind the Cliq, Minoru Kato, the new CEO and President of HMSI, said that compared to the developed cities, the penetration of gearless scooters is very limited in smaller towns and villages. In spite of the Activa out-selling motorcycles and becoming India’s most popular two-wheeler, scooters have managed to capture just a 17 per cent share of the rural market.
Just like the Navi, which was aimed at the urban youth who wanted something trendy, the Cliq, has been specifically designed to attract buyers from smaller cities and villages. This target audience traditionally comprises 100-110-cc commuter motorcycle buyer who don’t consider scooters. The reason being gearless scooters are over Rs 5,000 more expensive than commuter bikes and the road conditions limit the acceptability of automatic scooters with small wheels and CVT (continuously variable transmission).
Honda hope to break this barrier with the Cliq, which comes with a few features that might appeal to the aforementioned target audience — such as more rugged tyres and a longer seat, etc. Most importantly, however, a sticker price of Rs 42,499 for the standard version and Rs 42,999 for the deluxe trim (exshowroom, Delhi) is less than usual scooters and slightly more than 100-110-cc commuter bikes. A tempting compromise which a buyer might consider for the convenience the Cliq has to offer.
The radical scooter has been designed by HMSI right here in India. The feedback we have received from YOU (our readers) on the social media is rather polarised. Clichéd as it may sound, you either love or hate the unusual design.
There’s a single front panel which extends to the top, imitating a bikini fairing. The always-on headlight (AHO) is positioned on it, similar to a Dio, and a bare handlebar sits behind the front panel. But, unlike on the scooters, the exposed brake lever mechanism on the motorcycle-like handlebar look utilitarian.
It’s a compact scooter; smaller than the Activa. The overall length of 1,745 millimetres and wheelbase of 1,241 mm is slightly smaller than its sibling’s and the Cliq weighs just 102 kilograms. These proportions and its low saddle height of 743 mm make this scooter very manageable for people of varying physical stature.
The plastic panels on the side have a flattish design and bear the Navi family traits. Riding pillion, I had trouble pulling out the foldable rear foot-rest, which looks straight out of Honda CD Dream 110. The exhaust has been borrowed from the Dio, while the engine, frame and wheels are from the Activa.
The Cliq is available in four colour options: Patriot Red, Ocus Grey, Black, and the Moroccan Blue which we rode. Personally speaking, the red and blue versions look the best.
We think that while it gets a few interesting features that might attract new buyers, it also misses out on a few which could have been easily incorporated. Let’s start with the good bits. To tackle poor road conditions, the Cliq comes with block-pattern tubeless tyres on 10inch wheels (90/100 10 53J). Our test scooter had MRF Mogrip Meteor-M1, which offered decent grip on the sandy surface of the village roads inside the Chokhi Dhani resort. We got an extremely short spin on tarmac where the grip felt fairly adequate, but we hope to test it when the scooter is available for a longer ride. The thing with knobby tyres is that you can feel the vibes on the handlebar when on tarmac, which makes the rider feel a little uncertain about the grip.
There is no disc brake on offer to keep the price attractive, so you get 130-mm drums at both ends which come equipped with Honda’s Combi Braking System. You also get a decent 14-litre storage space under the seat and a socket to charge mobile devices. Also in the kit is a maintenance-free battery and viscous airfilter which needs to be replaced around 16,000 km.
Since the Cliq is aimed at the rural market where roads may belong to the pipe dream region rather than reality, we hoped Honda would consider better suspension to tackle the conditions. So it doesn’t get telescopic fork at the front as we would have liked; instead it comes with old-school link suspension upfront in combination with a single shock-absorber at the rear. The compromise, understandably, has been made to keep the price down.
We also suggested slightly better ground clearance, as the Cliq’s is identical to the Activa’s, which scrapes its belly over larger speed-breakers of the city, and, as we know, rural conditions are far more unforgiving.
Lastly, we pointed out that many buyers from Indian villages and smaller towns prefer a metal body for its strength and easy reparability. The Cliq comes with all-round plastic panels. The Honda engineer assured us that the plastic used is similar to that on motocross bikes and is highly flexible and durable, so it will not crack or break that easily.
This scooter gets the tried and tested 109.19cc air-cooled engine which makes 8.0 PS at 7,000 rpm and 8.94 Nm of torque, and the convenience of a CVT which powers the rear wheels. This is the successful setup seen on the highly popular Activate and Dio scooters.
The performance, though not spectacular, is adequate for the segment. The highlight here is the refinement and proven reliability. Being lightweight, this scooter feels quick off its feet and accelerates as briskly as do its siblings.
The low seat height, compact proportions and light weight also make the Cliq very nimble, although getting used to the block-pattern tyres might take a while for first-time users. The ride, during our short spin, felt to be firmer than its siblings without being uncomfortable. This is probably to take on broken roads with load. Since the scooters are fresh off the production line, the brakes were a bit underwhelming. We hope this does improve with use.
This lightweight scooter claims an ARAI tested fuel efficiency of 83 km/litre. Thus, in spite of having a small fuel-tank capacity of 3.5 litres, the Cliq should give a real world range of close to 200 km.
Buyers also get a few optional accessories which make the Cliq even more user-friendly. For instance, a small storage box which can be fitted to the floorboard, or an additional carrier at the back. There’s also a smart visor which can be fitted on to the top of the front panel and which enhances the style to a great extent.
After the Navi, Honda have taken the brave step of doing something radical yet again, which should be applauded and encouraged. They’ve made a unique product to create a segment which didn’t exist earlier. If it wasn’t for cost restraints, a better suspension setup and higher ground clearance would have given the Cliq an even wider appeal and practicality. Even so just by being the most affordable scooter from Honda, the Cliq will cause a stir in the industry.
It gets an additional carrier to carry small luggage, to improve practicality and appeal