It has begun - the Indian automobile market is leap-frogging from BS-IV straight to BS-VI emissions standards next year. It was in 2017 when we moved on to BS-IV and it was a frantic transition since there was less clarity on the deadline and the rules. This time though, the automobile industry aims to be well prepared well in time leaving no stocks of outdated products. While the deadline for BS-VI standards is about four months away, we already have BS-VI compliant vehicles - passenger cars, two-wheelers, and commercial vehicles. The very first BS-VI scooter to launch in India is the new Honda Activa 125 Fi which now has several new features as well. So, is a premium of about Rs 6,500-9,500 worth shelling out for a BS-VI scooter? We found out riding the new BS-VI Activa 125 Fi.
Of course, the fact that it is BS-VI compliant is what's new about it. But the very first thing you'll come in contact with while riding it is the starter button. The new Activa 125 features silent start – and really, press it and there is no sound. Well, because there is no starter motor. The scooter uses an Alternating Current Generator (ACG) that facilitates a noiseless start.
The new model now also features an idle-stop system that cuts power when it senses the engine is idling – quite handy for situations like when stopping at a traffic signal as it also helps save fuel. Once stopped, to set off again all you have to do is gentle nudge on the throttle. The mechanism is smooth and takes no time to start the engine again. It could become a bother in bumper to bumper traffic but the system can be switched off easily.
The instrument cluster on the new BS-VI Activa 125 remains a combination of digital-analogue but now features neat details like distance to empty and average fuel consumption which is quite accurate. The scooter also has a side-stand indicator and the system also won't allow the engine to start if the stand is down. This could be a tiny spot of bother if you're in the habit of giving the engine a few minutes of idling in the morning but is more of a benefit since you'll never leave the stand down while riding which can be dangerous.
Other convenience features include a glove box upfront the lid on which isn't very substantially built but sure is handy. One of the most important changes is the external fuel filler – so no more getting off the scooter to lift the seat anymore but the top lid of the filler was slightly troublesome for the men at the fuel filling station a couple of times since it hindered the access for filler nozzle.
Now, what sort of changes has the transition to BS-VI brought about? First of all, there has been a slight decrease in power but it is rather negligible and reflects no change in how the throttle responds. The ride remains Activa smooth and it can attain and comfortably sit at speeds of about 80 km/h. Unlike the older version, the BS-VI version has a fuel-injected fuel system that promises greater fuel efficiency which is claimed to have been improved by about 10-13% compared to the BS-IV version. The scooter is now 5 kg heavier but the way you interact with it continues to assure ease of handling.
The design is about similar but with distinguishing features like a chrome insert on the face and the side panels. The LED headlamp design has been refreshed as well and to make room for the new external fuel filler cap, the tail lamp has been tweaked. The riding posture and comfort retain their Activa appeal and so do the performance and handling. Braking is crisp on the disc brake version and it also features CBS (combined braking system) which optimises braking on both ends even of the rider only pulls one brake lever.
BS-VI vs BS-IV
Power 8.2 hp at 6500 rpm 8.5 hp at 6500 rpm
Torque 10.3 Nm at 5000 rpm 10.54 Nm at 5000 rpm
Ground clearance 169mm 155mm
Fuel tank capacity 5.3 litres 5.3 litres
Kerb weight 111 kg 108 kg
Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Variants BS-VI Honda Activa 125 BS-IV Honda Activa 125 Price difference
Standard Rs 67,490 Rs 60,627 Rs 6,863
Alloy wheel Rs 70,990 Rs 62,563 Rs 8,427
Deluxe Rs 74,490 Rs 65,012 Rs 9,478
Clearly, the BS-VI Activa 125 Fi continues to deliver on everything you expect from a scooter that carries the Activa moniker which has grown tremendously through its generations over the years. It offers a smooth ride, comfort, ease of handling, and convenience. However, the older BS-IV is also currently on sale and will be till stocks last or 1 April next year, whichever comes first.
Should you purchase a BS-IV scooter in times when cities like Delhi/NCR already have BS-VI fuel? The updated model does demand an updated price as well but it also promises several fancy features and a six-year warranty package of which three are standard and three extendable for under Rs 1,000. There is, in fact, no loss in buying a BS-IV product but if you have the option of bringing home an upgraded scooter – why wouldn't you then.