Al­most per­fect

The Honda PCX is a com­pelling buy de­spite mi­nor short­com­ings.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - REVIEW - By MENG YEW CHOONG carsifu@thes­tar.cm.my

LAUNCHED in 2013, the Honda PCX made scooter­ing stylish and fun, as ev­i­dent by good sales in de­vel­oped coun­tries such as North Amer­ica and Europe, where it is sold in vari­ants rang­ing from 125cc to 153cc.

The lat­est it­er­a­tion of the PCX as­sem­bled by Boon Siew Honda Sdn Bhd here sports a 149cc en­gine, mak­ing it road- tax free for Malaysian rid­ers.

Like all other mod­ern scoot­ers, the PCX comes with a dry type au­to­matic cen­trifu­gal clutch mated to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion ( CVT), promis­ing con­ve­nience and su­perb fuel econ­omy.

In my ex­tended test­ing of the PCX last­ing close to 10,000km, the sys­tem re­ally de­liv­ered: the “worst” con­sump­tion fig­ure I got was 42km per litre ( kpl) of RON95, and the best, close to 48kpl.

Av­er­age con­sump­tion for city rid­ing un­der heavy traf­fic yielded an av­er­age of 44kpl, putting the PCX as a good long range ride as it comes with an eight litre fuel tank.

And all there are achieved with­out even re­sort­ing to an­other fuel- sav­ing fea­ture called the idling stop fea­ture, which puts the en­gine is “sleep mode” when it is idle for more than three sec­onds.

I found this fea­ture dis­con­cert­ing, and turned it off as I also wanted to en­sure the bat­tery re­mains in a good state of charge, given that the PCX does not come with a kick starter as backup.

Strangely, rid­ing on ex­press­ways did not im­prove con­sump­tion fig­ures, given the scoot was run­ning at full throt­tle.

It is easy to hit full throt­tle rid­ing this scooter as it is not de­signed for top speed - the PCX strug­gled to hit 110kph even on a down­hill in­cline as there is a built- in speed lim­iter.

The PCX is not built for ex­press­way speeds, but that is fine as most of my rides are below 90kph.

The PCX boasts of a host of in­no­va­tions found in the more lux­u­ri­ous two- wheel­ers, such as an an­titheft alarm, LED lights and in­di­ca­tors all around, and a beau­ti­ful, un­clut­tered LCD in­stru­men­ta­tion panel with clock, dig­i­tal trip­me­ter and fuel con­sump­tion tracker ( there is no tachome­ter though, while speedome­ter re­mains ana­logue).

Un­der­seat stor­age space is good, with no has­sles in­volved when one needs to stuff a full- faced hel­met.

There is also a hel­met hook for putting a se­cond hel­met se­curely, so there is a lot of thought that went into mak­ing this scooter a com­muter- friendly one.

There is also no need to hold the seat when ac­cess­ing the stor­age space as the seat is fit­ted with a hinge that will keep it upright as long as you need it to be.

The ic­ing on the cake would be a lock­able 12- volt adap­tor for charg­ing devices such as phones and GPS units.

Over­all, built qual­ity is good, and the pearl white fin­ish is gor­geous ( the other colour is Candy Red).

The com­bined brak­ing sys­tem ( left lever op­er­ates front and rear brakes si­mul­ta­ne­ously) is ad­e­quate for bring­ing its mass of 131kg to a stop ( for more on this brake sys­tem, go to world. honda. com/ mo­tor­cy­cle- tech­nol­ogy/ brake/ p4. html)

In­ci­den­tally, an­other fun as­pect of a CVT scoot is not hav­ing to oil any drive chain at all, which also makes for a cleaner ex­pe­ri­ence when in­flat­ing the rear tyre.

The Achilles heel of the PCX is its sus­pen­sion, es­pe­cially the pair of rear shocks, which feels like jelly.

Many rid­ers have got­ten around this weak­ness by re­plac­ing them with af­ter­mar­ket parts to gain a more ac­cept­able ride feel, and I am strongly con­sid­er­ing this op­tion.

My other com­plaint is the slightly odd place­ment of the horn but­ton, which to me is a de­par­ture from the “nor­mal” Ja­panese switch con­fig­u­ra­tion.

The han­dle­bar is also slightly too wide for ma­noeu­vres through ex­tremely heavy traf­fic - it touched car side mir­rors a cou­ple of times - so one would have to ex­er­cise ex­treme cau­tion or pa­tience.

Like all good things in life, there is a price to pay for all th­ese, and the PCX will set one back by RM11,340.94 with GST.

The PCX is ex­pected to face some se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion when Yamaha’s 155cc NMAX hits the road next month, priced at RM8,812.84.

But un­til then, the PCX re­mains the king of the 150ccc scooter seg­ment.

If you have more cash to spare, the 299cc Kawasaki J300 scooter is now avail­able for RM31,489.

The PCX boasts a slew of in­no­va­tive fea­tures not nor­mally found on Malaysian two- wheel­ers.

The white LED headlights of the PCX per­form an ex­cel­lent job at light­ing up dark stretches of road.

Be care­ful when car­ry­ing a pil­lion as the foot pegs ex­tends the width of the scooter by sev­eral cen­time­tres.

Brak­ing per­for­mance is good enough.

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