Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India showed that it had a maverick, fun side with the Navi. The wee Navi took a leaf from a playbook no one knew Honda had and remoulded the dominant Activa platform into a fun package. And now the games continue with the new Honda Cliq, a scooter that's visually and in intent unlike any of the other scooters. In that sense, you will perhaps never be able to say whether the Honda Cliq competes with the Suzuki Access or TVS Jupiter or the Honda Navi or something else. Because it is, as Honda likes to say something else.
The design underlines this. The Honda Cliq looks like no other scooter in the country right now. To start at the rear, there's a black tubular load carrier which leads to the seat that Honda points out is long and wide. The side body has a round element that looks entirely cosmetic but is part of the chunky looks of the scooter. A flat floorboard and one of the biggest front aprons on any Indian scooter completes the look. The apron in fact, isn't pretty but it is interesting as it rises up to its tall peak. Honda points out that the Cliq is light, low and designed to work with male as well as female riders.
The Honda Cliq is powered by the same 109cc engine that does duty on the Activa. This is a smooth engine that we know works well and is utterly reliable. Honda has kept the weight down to 102kg which means the 8.04PS should make the scooter peppy enough despite how large it looks.
The noticeable feature of the Cliq, something you cannot escape are the chunky Ceat Gripp tyres with a block tread. Honda says the scooter's tyres will provide extra grip on patchy roads and the Gripps have a greater tyre life as well.
Honda says the Cliq was designed for utility and the floorboard, the underseat storage and the optional rear carrier are all attempts to increase how hard you can make the Cliq work. We also saw two scooters at the launch with optional floorboard-mounted lockable boxes that further add storage.
Honda is also starting off the ABS/CBS process with the Cliq. The little scooter features a combined braking system with an equaliser mechanism as stipulated by the new laws which make these systems mandatory on two-wheelers post April 1, 2018. Honda says pressing just the left lever (rear brake) causes the system to apply the front and rear brake equally producing shorter braking distances even for unskilled riders.
Honda is pricing the Cliq rather well with prices starting at ?42,499 ex-Delhi. That makes it ?1,000 more than the Honda Navi and ?8,500 less than Honda's primary weapon, the Activa 4G.
It will come in red/white, blue-white, grey and white colour schemes. Honda will offer accessories including a front screen, the aforementioned centre box and more that allow owners to personalise the scooter to their requirements.
The Cliq is to be manufactured at Honda's Tapukara plant and HMSI will begin rolling the scooter out in a phased manner across the country.
Now that the Activa is the largest selling single two-wheeler in the country as well as the dominant scooter model with more than half the market share, Honda is moving its sights. Indeed, HMSI president and CEO Minoru Kato said, "Scooters now account for almost half of the 100-110cc two-wheelers sold in India. The segment is poised for sub-segmentation."
We believe the Cliq will push into semi-urban and rural markets where scooters have traditionally not done well compared to motorcycles.
HMSI SVP sales and marketing Yadvinder Guleria said, "[The Cliq] is focussed on up-country customers. Only Honda could challenge traditional preferences by bringing this kind of disruption in the 100-110cc segment." Honda had earlier announced that it would expand its 5,200 numbering distribution further adding 500 new 'touch points' in this financial year focussing on semi-urban and rural areas
It's a crucial move because while urban India's love for the scooter is now a well-established phenomenon, the rural market has always been under-penetrated, double so when it comes to scooters. Nothing with an automatic transmission has clicked, as it were, so far in the rural markets.