Words by Aninda Sardar
June. Jaipur. For a scooter ride? Are you kidding? Well, we aren’t. We’re here and we’ve ridden Honda’s latest scooter – the Cliq. The Cliq was launched yesterday right here starting at Rs 42,999, ex-showroom, Delhi, which makes it the most affordable scooter in the country today. And it isn’t another boringly convenient and hyper practical mode of transportation either. So…
What is it?
The Cliq is meant to be a disruption in the scooter space with its unique and somewhat outlandish (for India) styling. According to Honda’s product development team, to ensure a high level of disruptiveness, the design team retained visual cues that people would relate with the equally, if not more, disruptive Navi. The front end however is taken from the Activa. This is actually a brilliant idea. No one needs to certify that the Activa is popular. It is the most popular scooter the country has ever seen. Wisdom therefore suggests that if there be more scooters then they retain traits of the most popular of them all. Meanwhile, using 30-35 per cent of material from the Navi means better economies of scale. In theory, Honda has the correct recipe, yet again, for a winning product. But, is there a catch?
The catch is that HMSI is targeting the rural mob with this scooter, which is a real challenge since thus far penetration of scooters in rural India has been quite low. And to do it with a scooter that looks nothing like a conventional scooter? That’s brave if nothing else. The styling is more in line with European tastes than what we’ve seen become successful here. It is different and that is probably the reason why it will have the best chance of success where others have failed to crack the rural market. As the security guard at Chokhi Dhani said to us, “Motorcycle toh motorcycle hoti hai. Scooter mein woh baat kahan?” (A motorcycle is a motorcycle after all. A scooter doesn’t have the same appeal.) Indeed, the Cliq’s styling definitely betrays motorcycle like traits, and that should help its cause. But it’s also sufficiently urban in its demeanour to appeal to the city-bred folk. Besides, there are sufficient features (mostly optional), like an under-seat mobile charger or the much touted block pattern tyres by Ceat that frankly aren’t great on tarmac.
Fun to drive…
The Cliq is powered by the same old and proven beyond belief 110cc single cylinder mill with Honda Eco Technology (HET), which puts out 8PS and 8.94Nm of peak torque. Given that the Cliq is a kilo lighter than the Activa at 102kg, it could be mildly peppier but we couldn’t really figure that out on the short ride in Jaipur. Even if you do, the difference will be marginal. Which isn’t a bad thing, given that the Activa feels powerful enough for a 110cc step-through. Darting through gaps in the traffic, overtaking other slow moving vehicles isn’t a problem at all on the Cliq.
It may not be the quickest off the line but it’s not the slowest either. Besides, quickest off the line isn’t part of the Cliq’s job description. Good fuel economy however, certainly is and Honda claims that the scooter is good for 60kmpl. That should give it a range of more than 250km, thus addressing a concern that buyers in rural areas, where petrol pumps may be few and far between, would have. On the downside though, the motor didn’t feel as refined as it does in the other scooters and one could discern vibrations filtering through at times.
On the dynamics front, the scooter feels light and nimble and filtering through heavy traffic should be accomplished with ease. We didn’t really get a chance to experience the handling of the scooter at respectable speeds but the road around Chokhi Dhani did provide some opportunity to experience the scooter’s ride quality. And there, the Cliq certainly clicks. The suspension is tuned to iron out road irregularities quite well making for a pliant and comfortable ride. The much hyped block pattern tyres however seem to perform better over the rough stuff than it does on tarmac.
Value for money
We believe it is. At the price the Cliq has been launched, there is no other scooter that can promise the convenience of a step-through. Value adds like the aforementioned mobile charger, the fancy new styling, the floorboard utility box that doesn’t eat into your knee room will only enhance this VFM quotient.
The big question though is, will HMSI be able to crack the rural market with this new and disruptive scooter? Who knows, but what we do know is that the Cliq is a breath of fresh air in the world of scooters.