The automatic scooter segment has shown steady growth in India, capturing an ever increasing market share over time. Honda has ruled this roost for over a decade now, with no signs of any slow down at its end. The world acclaimed two-wheeler giant recently rolled out a new model, the Activa-i, an automatic scooter that’s mechanically similar to its best-selling Activa, but with new styling and a set of non-metal body panels. Meanwhile, TVS Motor Co. has been toiling to develop an Activa-beater, towards which it just rolled out a new challenger in the Jupiter. The stylish TVS comes with some first-in-class features, sure to catch the attention of buyers.
Let’s find out which of these charismatic scooters has what it takes to pass the chequered flag before its rival.
From the looks of it
The Activa-i and Jupiter are stylish, purpose built urban runabouts that prove a practical means of transport for errands, office and college going duties. For instruments, the Honda offers an analogue speedometer and fuel-gauge, along with the standard set of warning indicators. The Jupiter is a step ahead in this department, offering all this along with an economy and power riding mode indicator, plus a low fuel warning light. The Jupiter’s instruments look more stylish.
The Honda’s palm grips and levers are comfortable, while the switchgear feels built to last. Again though, TVS offers slightly better switches, finished with a dimpled texture for added feel, and inclusive of a handy pass light flasher. Furthermore, the Activa-i’s brake-lock clamp is annoyingly tricky to operate, while the Jupiter gets a conventional locking clamp that operates effortlessly.
Storage space is imperative here, and so the Activa-i offers decent under-seat stowage, large enough for a handbag or small helmet. Meanwhile, the Jupiter also comes with good storage space, and an external fuel-filler lid more conveniently located above the tail-light, that allows owners the convenience of not dismounting when tanking-up. However, the omission of an under-seat filler hasn’t served to create extra under-seat space.
Additional conveniences include a basic parcel hook on the Honda, where the TVS enjoys this, with an additional hook below its handlebar, both of which tuck away to sit flush when not used.
The Activa-i rides on pressed steel rims, while the Jupiter gets five-spoke, black alloy wheels. The Jupiter is undoubtedly a more stylish scooter. Build quality and fit-finish are as expected from Honda and TVS, both scoring well in these regards.
Both scooters come with similar configuration, four-stroke, single-cylinder, carburetted and air-cooled engines.
The Activa-i uses an identical 109.2cc engine as on the standard Activa, with Honda’s new HET, (Honda Eco Technology). The Activa-i’s power output mirrors the Activa, making 8bhp at 7500rpm and a peak torque figure of 0.9kgm, at 5500rpm. Meanwhile, the Jupiter uses a 109.7cc engine, as also on the Wego. The Jupiter generates identical maximum power of 8bhp at 7500rpm, but torque output is lower, 0.81kgm made at 5500rpm.
Both scooters come with automatic, CVT-drive gearboxes which work smoothly at all times. Expecting blazing performance would be out of place here. During performance testing, the Activa-i passed 60kph from standstill in 8.09 seconds, while the Jupiter managed this in a significantly slower 9.9sec. Both scooters run vibe free throughout their wide powerbands without any hiccups.
We wish TVS had granted the Jupiter a little more punch, especially towards the bottom end of its powerband, which would have made a notable difference when riding through congested city traffic, commonly experienced in India.
Both scooters return acceptable fuel economy. However the Activa-i proves slightly more frugal, returning 47kpl in the city and 49.5kpl on the highway. The Jupiter managed 43.4kpl in heavy city traffic, further improving on this to 45.3kpl when on the highway.
Commute in comfort
The Activa-i and Jupiter are built with city commutes in mind. The Activa-i tips the scales at 103kg, whereas the Jupiter weighs 108kg. The single biggest letdown on the Activa-i is its outdated set of linked front shock absorbers, more so in light of the Jupiter riding in on up-to-date telescopic fork front suspenders.
Both scooters deploy a single rear shock-absorber, with engines working as stressed members of the frame. The Honda and TVS seat riders in upright riding position, although a difference is the Activa-i handlebar being located lower than the standard Activa, causing this to interfere with a taller rider’s knees.
The Activa-i’s low kerb weight makes it effortless to manoeuvre in heavy traffic, and the Jupiter similarly handles with light and neutral feel, as required from this class of scooters. The Jupiter has a clear edge when riding in a straight line, as well as around corners, thanks to its superior suspension. The Activa-i saddle is generously padded and provides ample room for two. Meanwhile, the wide and long Jupiter seat scores lower on comfort, its padding feeling a touch too soft after more extensive rides.
The Activa-i rides on smaller 10-inch wheels, which coupled with its lower spec suspension results in harsher ride quality. The Jupiter, on the other hand trumps here, better suspension and larger 12-inch wheels giving the TVS scooter a big lead on ride quality.
For braking, both modern scooters apply 130mm size drum brakes front and rear. However, Honda has equipped the Activa-i with its CBS, Combined Braking System that proves effective and a boon. The Activa-i managed to halt from 60kph in 21.62 metres when tested by us, while the heavier Jupiter achieved this in a similar 21.32m.
At the core
The Activa-i makes a stylish scooter, that enters the ring with a Honda grade of fit-finish and build quality on its side. Compact dimensions and a nimble, lightweight nature make this a good choice of runabout for the fairer sex. The Honda also offers zippy performance, with good fuel efficiency, both of which are better than the Jupiter. However, the Activa-i’s Achilles heel remains its relatively poor ride quality, which is key here.
The TVS Jupiter delivers most of the above, plus some more. Yes, the Jupiter’s performance isn’t at par with the Activa-i, but it does run smoothly and with a reliable feel. The new TVS scooter has managed to pull an edge over the Honda in many ways, and comes with better kit as part of the package, including telescopic fork front suspension, apart from other noteworthy features.
The Honda Activa-i is priced at Rs 46,588, while the TVS Jupiter is pegged at Rs 46,534 (both prices ex-showroom, Pune), which makes the TVS a better value-for-money proposition, and quite clearly the scooter we’d choose.