Honda is clearly not one to be complacent when it comes to a versatile scooter line-up. From the funky Navi to the rural-centric Cliq, the female-centric Activa-i and the proven quartet comprising of the Dio, Activa, Aviator and the Activa 125, Honda has a wide range of scooters for multiple needs . What it missed so far, however, was a feature-rich scooter with sporty aspirations, both, visually and mechanically. That’s the gap the new Grazia aims to slot into.
This contemporary and pleasantly European-styled scooter is Honda’s second one in the 125 segment, after the Activa 125. This segment, at present, contributes to a single-digit percentage of Honda’s overall scooter sales, although the graph is on the incline due to a host of capable models from Suzuki, Vespa and Aprilia. Honda is clever enough to identify this and, with the Grazia, has attempted to put together a scooter that offers the overall dependability of the Access 125 (or its own Activa 125, for that matter), the design appeal of the Vespa and the sporty intent of the SR150.
The Grazia, contrary to what its name suggests, isn’t a female-centric scooter (although that’s not to say it will keep them at bay either). The nomenclature is derived from its premium aspirations, rather. Honda has equipped the Grazia with an appealing feature suite which includes an LED headlight (a scooter-segment first) and a compact ‘glovebox’ in the apron (big enough for a mobile phone and a wallet). This cubbyhole also has a slot for a 12v charging socket (an optional accessory on all three variants for approximately Rs 500). Also offered is a handy seat-release button positioned next to the 4-in-1 key slot, and a completely digital instrument cluster with a three-step eco speed indicator and a tachometer (again, a segment first). There’s more, too, and we’ll get to that in a bit.
The plastic-bodied Grazia shares its underbone chassis with the Activa 125, and though Honda insists that there are a few differences, it has not divulged the details. The front end gets a telescopic fork and a 12-inch wheel (black alloys on the top two variants), while the rear gets a shock absorber and a 10-inch wheel, a configuration proven by the Activa 125. A 190mm disc is standard on the Deluxe (top) variant while the other variants (Standard, Standard Alloy) get a 130mm drum. The Combi-Brake System (CBS) is standard across all variants, as expected. The tyres, MRF Zappers (90/90-12 front, 90/100-10 rear), are tubeless and only the base variant gets Ceat rubber (tubeless) on pressed-steel wheels.
The 124.9cc engine produces 8.5hp at 6,500rpm, 0.2hp less than the Access 125, and 10.54Nm of torque at 5,000rpm, 0.34Nm more than the Suzuki. These are healthy, if not competitive, figures for a scooter that weighs 107kg (kerb weight of the top variant; the Access weighs 102kg) and it clearly shows in its performance. With a 90+ kg rider on-board, the Grazia accelerates without a hiccup or any visible sign of stress, something that remains consistent until a speedo-indicated 75kph. The Grazia’s tachometer isn’t particularly useful for a scooter but does come in handy when making conscious riding decisions with regard to fuel-efficiency. At 40kph, for instance, the Grazia’s motor is at 4,500rpm, 50kph comes up at 5,000rpm, 60kph at 5,750rpm and 70kph at 6,750rpm. I certainly think this is a novel addition to the Grazia’s feature list, although I wouldn’t recommend more than a quick glance at it since it doesn’t fall in the rider’s line of vision.
The efficiency conscious riders amongst you can also benefit from the three-step eco speed indicator that rests on top of the instrument cluster. This is, essentially, a three-bar indicator (green, and easily visible in daylight as well) that lights up fully when the engine is at its efficient best, which recedes bar-by-bar as you get faster. Honda, naturally, cannot detach itself from efficiency and, to be fair, it will only result in making the Grazia more inclusive (of efficiency-minded customers, not the primary target audience for the Grazia).
With that covered, the Grazia moves on to prove itself as a spirited, stress-free performer, that doesn’t leave you dissatisfied, even if you switch over to it from your old 100cc commuter motorcycle. It’s particularly in its element between 40 and 75 kph, and with a generously proportioned rider such as myself, it went on to indicate an 88kph top speed. More important than the speed is how confident it feels being pushed towards its limits. Neither the engine nor the cycle parts feel uncomfortable at sustained high speeds, and while most of us would have liked Honda to equip it with a horsepower or two more (just to set it apart from the Activa 125), it’s a desire that has its roots in want rather than need.
Contributing to the Grazia’s pleasant performance is the dynamic setup. The virtues of a 12-inch front wheel and a telescopic fork certainly make themselves apparent, particularly when you throw it into a corner at speed. I rode it over some pretty dusty corners and I have only ever been able to do such a thing on the 14-inch-wheeled Aprilia SR150 before. The fork doesn’t dive in too pronounced a manner even under hard braking, although there was an inconsistency in the front brake lever feel between the octet of test bikes available to journalists. Some scooters (such as the one I was riding were equipped with brake levers that could be squeezed almost all the way back to the throttle, something that is probably a PDI glitch. That said, you can brake hard with confidence (due credit to the MRF Zappers) and the CBS-equipped Grazia refuses to do anything in an untowardly dramatic manner.
Finally, we come to the Grazia’s decided USP, the features. The most important of its features, the LED headlight, is something I couldn’t test because of the daytime-only ride, so we’ll comment on that later. The three-step eco speed indicator will certainly win favour with efficiency conscious buyers, although this is something that has been seen before in a different format on some other scooters. What’s not so well executed is the cubbyhole with a flip-down cover for storing and charging a mobile phone. It isn’t rubber-lined, which means your phone will get bounced around a fair bit. It also, ideally, should have been a lockable unit. Also, while the underseat storage capacity is generous, it still isn’t enough to accommodate a large-sized full-face helmet. I wasn’t quite comfortable on the Dio-sourced seat either, given that I was seated squarely on the edge of the mild hump that demarcates the rider’s space from the pillion’s. Shorter riders wouldn’t find this to be an issue but Honda would do well to grant the Grazia an all-new seat it’s so deserving of. Lastly, for a scooter that’s positioned as a premium offering, the Grazia’s brake-lock lever (on the left-hand side) is a little crude and difficult to engage. It’s not something that should make you turn away from the scooter, but a little attention to detail goes a long way in making a lasting impression.
What does make a lasting impression is how well-rounded the Grazia is as a 125cc scooter. To attempt and create a best-of-all-worlds package is tricky, particularly in the business of producing two-wheelers, but the Grazia, priced at Rs 59,516 (Standard) and Rs 63,888 (Deluxe, ex-showroom, Mumbai) has achieved what it set out to. Buy it, if you want a well-finished scooter that’s cool, contemporary, well-equipped and accommodating of every reasonable riding style. And, of course, if you want all of that with the bullet-proof reputation that Honda has for its scooters.