Shootout – Mahindra Gusto vs Honda Activa HET
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 56,012/- (Honda Activa); Rs. 51,054/-, Rs. 55,380/- (Mahindra Gusto DX, VX)
The Activa continues to face rivals again and again, this time it’s the Mahindra Gusto
Every scooter in the Indian market today is fighting against the machine dressed in white in front of you today. No matter whatever you say about the Honda Activa because of reasons which we do successfully understand and still moan about, the Activa ends up clocking 2 lakh units every month. There are scooters from every manufacturers now in the 110cc segment to compete with Honda’s top-selling offering. A brand so strong that Honda has three out of five scooters in the portfolio embarking the same name. The Mahindra Gusto is a brand new entry into the same segment and wants a piece of the pie with its all new global scooter platform which is thoroughly engineered and attention to detail is as high as the empire state building. We had to put these scooters back to back. Gusto is craving all the attention as of now for the right reasons and hence this quick comparison between both will tell us who is the winner as we know from previous tests where does the Activa stand. So here we go, hold on, the winds are to become very strong.
Styling – The Honda Activa is the contemporary styling of the lot with swooping panels at the side, the undeniable Japanese look at the front and a big fat bulged bottom at the rear. When it comes to styling of the Gusto, it is downright boxy and front is the most striking part of this scooter. The craning down of the headlight, grills at the front with a boxy apron and front fender look like a symmetrical job. The rear is the same as the Activa in terms of design language and is bulging out but here the Gusto has the bold Mahindra badging and a clever reflector strip running at the top and at the extreme bottom. The turn indicators at the rear on the Gusto are very neatly done against the unusually large ones seen on the Activa. No doubt the Gusto is a freshly baked cookie while the Activa is starting to show its age but is still far away from it. Both scooters have great fit-finish but the plastics on the Activa are better than the Gusto by a good margin. The Gusto is either a record hit for someone or a pure miss in terms of design. Meanwhile the Activa has the “I won’t disappoint anybody” styling.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Both these scooters have plain vanilla looking clusters and both have well chosen fonts. The Gusto has the silver cladding on the top with the Mahindra badge embossed which looks clearly dated on day one itself. Both these scooters have solitary turn indicators with the usual tell-tale lights on them and nothing extra. The switchgear on these scooters are identical except for the markings on the turn indicator switch on the Gusto. Both scooters have switches made of high quality materials.
Practicality – The Mahindra Gusto in this department is ahead by leaps and bounds. Most manufacturers are busy making scooters for different seat heights and in disguise increasing their portfolio. The Gusto with its first in class height adjustable seat which either increases or decreases the height by a humongous 40 mm is like a polite pat on the back by a politically right employee (your enemy) in a highly competitive scenario. The Activa is no slouch as it offers a universal blend but the extreme case which has been achieved by Mahindra is such a perfect match for every family member who ends up using the scooter, it is a complete win-win situation, hands down. Both scooters have good rear view mirrors but Mahindra has put long stalks and hence the highest visibility when compared to each other.
You can see in the pictures who has the bigger and wider seat too (the Gusto has it). Both offer upright riding position and well padded seats. The Gusto also has a significantly larger floor board for taller passengers or to carry more load. The Gusto is clearly aces in the practicality test with the quick storage, twin hooks and slightly lower under-seat storage than the Activa. The Gusto with its seat that does not go down and stays up is a huge boon in endless situations. The Gusto also has almost 10 mm of ground clearance more over the Activa for you number lovers out there. LED pilot lamps, flip key with features such as follow me and guide me lamps are unique to the Gusto only in the entire scooter segment.
These scooters are evenly matched in engine performance while the rest of the places, the Gusto scores high
Performance – Powering both these automatic gearbox equipped scooters are 110cc engines which are terrifically refined, calm with low NVH. The Mahindra Gusto has an all aluminium unit which is so refined that riding both the scooters back to back felt like no difference in terms of smoothness. An achievement of that level is way too high and we think Mahindra has done a fantastic job with the engine. Both engines produce 8 BHP of power at a similar 7500 RPM but the Gusto has 9 Nm of torque at 5500 RPM while the Activa is not behind at 8.74 Nm at 5500 RPM. Dyno charts provided tell us that they have exactly the same kind of power delivery throughout the rev range and offer the same kind of peppy ride-ability in the city. Both these machines max out at around 85 km/hr indicated on the speedometer. Riding them back to back, the Activa felt sprightlier but by a small margin than the Gusto. In terms of performance, the Gusto will stay slightly behind but since these commuters will spend time with people who care about their families and who ride slow, they will find no difference between the two scooters. We ride the Activa on a daily basis and mileage never goes above 50 km/l and we expect the Mahindra also to stay in the same ball park of 45 to 50 km/l.
Riding Dynamics – Without a single doubt in our minds, the machine here with 12-inch wheels, 90×100 tyres and telescopic front forks is the Gusto and is the far more superior scooter of the lot. The Activa with its pre-historic suspension at the front and downright harsh and crashy ride quality means that comfort is no where near the Gusto. The Mahindra handles well and despite the kerb weight it goes around corners brilliantly because of the stiffer suspension. Ride quality is fantastic, it does not feel bone jarring like the Activa. The Honda does handle well and is nimble enough but does not give you a sense of confidence and nimbleness like the Gusto or any other scooter which has bigger wheels and telescopic front forks. The Gusto’s high speed stability and front-end responsiveness at high speeds is miles ahead of the Activa because of the kerb weight coming in handy. Overall, in this area of expertise, the Gusto is the winner.
Verdict – When it comes to value for money or let’s say the most bang for you back, the Mahindra Gusto is clearly ahead. The base variant is Rs. 5000/- cheaper than the Honda Activa and the top variant costs the same as the normal variant which proves our point really well, doesn’t it?. The Gusto is engineered solidly too and the engines on both bikes feel similar too and that is a huge compliment for the Mumbai based manufacturer. The Gusto has the attention to detail in many aspects which will help you on a daily basis and none of it is complicated, leaving you scratching your head. The Gusto with the same economy, ride-ability, better ride quality and handling, fresh styling, essentials, practical bits and tonnes of features onboard, is the clear winner of this test.
The Honda Activa is already a proven scooter like any other Japanese product but the Mahindra Gusto promises to not be far behind like how it was decades back. Sure it’s not a proven product but in this age of intense testing and technologies, nothing is going to be like the 1980’s. The Gusto has the guts to stand in the market and with its head held up high.
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