Heart transplant

Honda plays it safe with a new powerplant for the Aviator. Adhish Alawani answers the questions ‘why’ and ‘how’

The Indian automobile market has some peculiar characteristics. When Honda entered the Indian market more than two decades ago (along with Kinetic), the company’s intention was to study the customer, his requirements, his mentality and the market behaviour apart from making a name for themselves. The Japanese manufacturer did its job flawlessly and got out of the venture to set up their unit. The first independent wing badged product to roll out in India was the Activa. I clearly remember that the scooter market was almost dead at the time of Activa’s launch way back in 2001. Would you believe it if I said that a leading two-wheeler manufacturer in India had actually ridiculed Honda for entering India with just an Activa on offer when the market for scooters was rapidly fading? Honda proved the critics wrong and how! Not only did the company run down the competition with a mere Activa, but they also came up with products like the Dio and the Aviator which featured the same function in different forms. The Honda scooters ruled the segment for years before facing some competition. Now when there are products in the market that can challenge Honda’s prowess, the company is on its way to upgrade its line-up.

A few months ago, Honda reintroduced the new Activa with restyled bodywork and more importantly, a new 110cc engine. What follows as the next step in their current market strategy is the introduction of the same 110cc engine in the Aviator. Why? Simple. The Indian consumer believes in one major factor – brand name. The Honda tag has come to be associated with reliability. Plus, the Indian consumer wants something unique that is not very common on the road. So, the Aviator is kind of an answer to this situation. Honda is providing the same reliability, performance and efficiency as
that of the Activa in a machine with a different form. But what is this new 110cc engine all about? What exactly is its benefit over the earlier 100cc engine? To start off, the Aviator now boasts 8.1PS of peak power, almost 1PS over its predecessor. More importantly, the peak torque figure has also gone up by 1.2Nm over the previous iteration giving the scooter a much better rideability in city traffic. The stop and go chaos in urban areas demands more torque and that is where the Aviator wins over its predecessor. Its potent motor is ever ready to propel you ahead comfortably every time you wring the right wrist. However, that doesn’t mean you should expect a sudden surge of power when the scoot is abused with a full throttle. Like a typical Honda, the scooter’s power delivery is extremely linear and smooth giving you a jerk free ride. Also, with its slightly increased cubic capacity, expect the Aviator to hit a top speed that is a tad higher than the previous variant. But does this increase in power and torque translate to compromised fuel efficiency? Surprisingly not. The Aviator managed to deliver an overall economy of 52kmpl as against 46kmpl of its earlier version, which translates to a fantastic 13 percent rise in efficiency.

While more power and torque coupled with a better fuel efficiency is the story of the new 110cc engine from the Honda stable, there are some additions to the features list of the Aviator as well. The scooter comes in two variants as earlier – one with a disc brake up front and the other with the plain simple drum. The company has also introduced the Combined Braking System (CBS) on the Aviator that was first seen on the refreshed Activa. However unlike the Activa, since the Deluxe version of the Aviator sports a disc brake in the front, it calls for a more complex CBS system than the regular cable actuated drum brakes. The CBS unit has been nicely concealed behind the front board under the handlebar. Basically, this back-to-front CBS system ensures that even if you pull just the rear brake, the front one is also partially actuated making deceleration safer. This helps in reducing the braking distance as well as the braking time. The chassis, suspension and wheels from the old version of the Aviator have been retained in the new model thus assuring the same class of handling and ride quality. Also new on the features list is the introduction of a new viscous air filter and a maintenance free battery.

So will your new Aviator stand out from the older one? Yes, but very frankly, not in a way that I would want it to. The Aviator has carried a polished and elegant look since its launch a couple of years ago. Its styling has either attracted a lot of love or a lot of hatred. I have personally loved the Aviator’s design considering the fact that the scooter is primarily targeted at the executive male consumer. However, the elegance of the Aviator has taken a hit with the introduction of chrome in place of the matte finish front panel parts. In my opinion, the chrome adds a lot of bling to the scooter rather than elegance. There are a couple of new colour options on offer and the grab rails now come painted in the body scheme. Apart from that, there is nothing noticeable in the styling of the Aviator. Moving on to the fifty grand question – would you buy it? If the chrome at the front doesn’t matter much to you and you have that extra moolah to shell out on reliability, performance and the feel good factor offered by the Honda, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be riding the Aviator.

The grab rails on the new Aviator now come in the body paint scheme unlike the silver ones on the earlier version

The front end of the new Aviator sports chrome in place of the more elegant matte finish panel – a change less welcome

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