Karan Narsu rides the quirky new Honda Cliq to find out if it’s got the goods to go all the way in rural India, while also making it a viable option for the city-sleeker
Honda is at it again. Surprising us, that is.
The Big Red has often been accused of being a bit slow when it comes to doing interesting things. With the Navi, they shook that notion.
It's only been a year and a half since then, and Honda has brought in the Navi’s rugged-and-ready sibling, the Honda Cliq.
While the Cliq is designed to serve in the vast rural Indian landscape, it looks like a scooter that we wouldn’t mind flaunting around the cities too.
But, is the Cliq a good fit for the city?
What makes it the more practical option for rural India?
Let’s find out.
So how does it look? At first glance, the Cliq comes across as a rather quirky but smart looking machine, with a long, stout body in the front that encompasses a neatly designed visor on top, while the headlight is neatly integrated into the body as the indicators find their way on either side of it, all of which is placed just above the front mudguard that gets a chequered strip running down the middle.
The instrument cluster houses all the basic readouts that are laid out well and are easily legible. Also, the cluster isn't part of the handlebar and instead, makes its way onto the body, mounted just ahead of it.
The mirrors are bolted onto the handlebar and not the body, providing a broad view of the rear, but due to the short mirror stalks, the rear visibility is hindered.
The proportions, however, differ drastically as you move to the side, which showcases a long and wide seat that sits even 22mm lower than the Navi’s seat height.
Similar to the Navi, the Cliq also gets plastic side body panels with key-shaped styling cues that are also inspired by the Navi.
The overall look is completed with a chequered strip design at the rear end plastic panel.
The overall fit-finish and the quality of elements like the switchgear, palm grips, and the plastic body panels, feel at par with the bigger scooter offerings from Honda, a commendable attempt indeed, considering the price point, at which this gearless scooter is offered.
Engine and performance
The Cliq is powered by the same four-stroke air-cooled and carburetted, 109.19cc engine that powers the Navi and other 110cc scooters on offer by Honda, including the ever popular Activa.
The refinement level is also at par with the Activa and in fact, feels a lot peppier to ride, since it's lighter as well.
Off the line pick up is also impressive and the scooter tends to build up speed with ease and can go up to 60Kmph without any fuss, enabling the rider with the adequate amount of power, even with two up or some load onboard.
Peak power of 8.03PS is produced at 7000rpm, while 8.94Nm of peak torque is generated at 5500rpm, with the CVT gearbox working in sync to offer a smooth ride.
Honda, with its HET technology, claims an average of 60Kmpl.
Fuel tank capacity on offer is 3.5 litres, which happens to be 0.3 litres lesser than the Navi, and as claimed by Honda, provides a range of 200Km.
Ride and handling
I am six feet tall and it was quite surprising to me that the Cliq felt so much at home when astride it.
The handlebars have an easy reach but you may find it difficult to make sudden or hard turns without having to put the respective foot down, as the handlebar tends to hit your knees, resulting in loss of balance.
That said, the scooter feels light to manoeuvre around in traffic and thanks to the 1241mm wheelbase, which is just 3mm more than the Activa 4G.
The Cliq is gifted with a short turning radius making it easy to turn around in congested areas.
The Cliq's overall seating posture is upright and relaxed and the well-padded seat feels plush, with enough room for two. To keep costs in check, the company has offered bottom link suspension up front, while the rear gets a monoshock.
The ride quality on offer is on the stiffer side, unsettling the rider while handling rough road patches and potholes. But, the benefit is that when you are riding two up, it doesn’t get easily unsettled when going over broken roads.
The Cliq gets 10-inch wheels up-front and at the rear that come wrapped with the industry-first block tread tubeless tyres from Ceat, keeping in mind the action involved in the rural areas.
The grip on offer on the tarmac is adequate as well and doesn’t seem to dull the rider’s confidence. Being in a rural setup in Jaipur, we also managed to ride it over a sandy terrain and the block tyres seemed to provide efficient grip around turns and even while accelerating and braking hard.
The 130mm drum brakes provide good feedback under hard braking and come equipped with combined braking system that proves to be very potent, providing the additional support to enhance the stopping power.
Storage and utility
The floorboard, despite being wider (as claimed by Honda) doesn't seem to offer much room for keeping even the basic of groceries or farm related equipment if required.
Adding to the utility factor, Honda has also offered an optional centre storage that fits onto the floorboard, but it’s only good enough for keeping items like milk packets or small grocery items, making it cumbersome at the same time, for the rider to get on of and off the vehicle due to the way it’s placed.
There is also 14 litres of under-seat storage on offer and it's only big enough for a half-face helmet and some tit-bits. There is also a mobile charger available as an additional accessory and fits into the storage area.
Moving to the rear, Honda has offered grab rails with a carrier extension that is only wide enough to mount and fit luggage that is as big as a 5-litre water bottle.
The grab rails also come with two welded bolts on either side, designed to mount additional baggage, but fails to inspire trust while riding, as they are tilted slightly downwards. (There is a host of optional accessories on offer from Honda; a front screen, floor cover, centre storage box, cap cover, rear grip and mobile charger.)
Honda is the first company in India to aim for the rural market with a gearless scooter. However, we are not quite sure if Honda has done enough to make the Cliq more at home in rural conditions.
The styling, for instance, is a bit too dramatic for the likings of the rural customer who would rather prefer a more traditional look.
Apart from this, there’s also the fact that the overall utility and storage options on offer are not up to the expectation from the viewpoint of a utilitarian.
Also, while plastic body panels are a very practical and efficient solution, traditional customer's mindset tends to prefer metal and may take a toll on the acceptance of this product.
However, the Cliq is aiming to take on the 100cc motorcycles in the rural market and it does that with a proven powertrain, grippy tires to get around and the convenience of an automatic, which is a lot more convenient than what motorcycles would offer.
Honda-typical build quality and the fact that it is priced lower than most 100cc motorcycles gives its proposition as a practical commuter a strong boost.
So, while we don’t know how well the Cliq clicks in the rural markets, we know that this funky and affordable scooter would make sense even in the urban environment.
The Cliq is manufactured at Honda's plant in Tapukara, Rajasthan and will give the state a head-start on Cliq’s deliveries.
Sales shall begin with Rajasthan, spreading to other tier 2 and tier 3 cities in a phased manner.
The standard version of the Cliq is priced at Rs 42,499, and, with body graphics, it’s priced at Rs 42,999 (Ex-showroom, Delhi).
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