We were welcomed at Chokidhani, Jaipur for the unveiling and launch of Honda Cliq. Skeptical, we stepped in thinking how was an entertainment village supposed to be a proving ground for a scooter. However, were we wrong! Turns out, if we had any other scooter and not a Cliq, a lot of us would have slipped on the loose desert sand, but the Cliq kept calm and going. Honda is marketing the Cliq as a scooter meant for the rural markets. This is also the reason it has first been launched in Rajasthan, where public transport is not exactly efficient and the two-wheeler market is big. The brand has also assured that the Cliq will be made available across the country by the time the festive season arrives.
It will appeal to the rural markets, and I say this so confidently because we were surrounded by 4-5 local men on the outskirts of Jaipur and all of them appreciated the look and were pleased to listen to the price since the Cliq is significantly cheaper than the Activa and is also the most inexpensive scooter in Honda's Indian lineup.
What is the one problem that some people may have had with the Activa? The seat height many may say but the Cliq has that covered. Seat height is quite low at 744mm and the scooter is very light too at 102 kg. A major chunk of the weight saving can be attributed to a small fuel tank of 3.5 litres, which is actually small even by scooter standards. If the Cliq does deliver the claimed fuel economy figure of 60 kmpl, a range of 210 km still isn't all that great, especially by rural standards where petrol pumps are far and few.
Being lightweight though proved advantageous as the scooter feels a bit zippier. However, the ride on the Cliq felt a bit wobbly at times, especially with a pillion. The CBS (combi brake system) works well distributing braking power between the front and rear wheels even when only the rear brake is applied.
What this weight saving has also done is that the Cliq feels more powerful and is capable of doing a claimed top speed of 83 kmph. The tyre size is the same as the Activa, but the block pattern tread and grooves provide more grip on broken and unpaved surfaces. It gets the same engine displacement of 109.19cc, which makes the 8 bhp and 8.93 Nm of torque, and the same noise that we're so used to listening to on Indian roads since Honda has sold just so many units of the Activa over the years.
The buyers in rural areas have always preferred a 100 or 110cc motorcycle over scooters, but if you think of it, a scooter will be much more practical. This thought was approved by a happy local who said, 'I'll be able to carry more stuff on it.'
Time will tell if Honda has hit a breakthrough with the Cliq. The Navi was supposed to be one, but eventually, its sales tapered. Navi's initial popularity was primarily due to it being different from the other scooters. The Cliq too carries some design inspiration from the Navi, and also offers higher practicality and comfort. The seat is well cushioned, there is a storage bin under the seat and you can add an additional carrier or a mobile charger along with other accessories to pep up the look further.
There are several options for a buyer eyeing a 110cc scooter in the market, such as the Hero Maestro, TVS Jupiter and the likes. However, the Cliq is cheaper than these and has a distinct new design.
While it seems the Cliq might gain traction in the rural areas, the styling and easy handling should also appeal to young buyers in the cities. The design of the Cliq is fresh and quirky at the same time, which makes it stand out in a crowd of similarly styled scooters. At a nominal amount of about Rs 500, one can also opt for a version with bright and lively stickers, which in turn might appeal to younger consumers. The Activa has been a trusty two-wheeler for millions of Indian families for over 16 years, but the Cliq offers a break from the monotony.