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Gusto may give the Activa a run for its money
Shams Naqvi  14th Feb 2015

There are two auto companies in the world that between them make just about everything. By just about everything, we mean cars, bikes, buses, trucks, hybrid vehicles, tractors, airplanes and much, much more. They also make one very important yet humble mode of transport — the scooter. And while the Japanese firm Honda is the market leader by some distance when it comes to scooters in India, Mahindra is still trying to find its feet in this rapidly expanding segment in the country. With the arrival of the brand new Gusto the indigenous automaker is taking on the might of India's favorite scooter, the Activa.

Practicality

It's almost like a David vs. Goliath battle but to start with Mahindra seems to have made the right moves. What they're emphasising on is the practicality and some specific features that all scooter makers have ignored till now. The most important amongst these is that the Gusto comes with a height adjustable seat, something that will make the taller men happy, since most scooters are designed keeping the female rider in mind. Once the seat is pulled open to access the storage area, there's a lock that holds the seat, and both your hands are free to work, without worrying about the seat falling down. The seat itself is wider than many other scooters and that's a plus. There's a very clever spring-loaded storage area just below the instrument console that can store small items like cell phones or toll cards. None of these features exist yet in the Activa. Perhaps an externally positioned fuel filler cap à-la TVS Jupiter would've been great but that is not to be.

Design

There's not too much that separates the Gusto and the Activa when it comes to looks and cluster design. Mahindra has made the effort to make the design appealing, and more in-sync with the demands of the modern day rider. The Activa lags behind a little and its decade old design shows on the instrument cluster. The quality is roughly the same and it shows that Mahindra has set its sight in the right direction. Even in styling, the Gusto looks more modern with its front grille, body mounted indicators and LED headlights but the quality of plastic used on the Honda is clearly superior. The Gusto is both longer and taller in comparison. And finally the flip key that comes with a find me & follow me features adds some bling to the Gusto. The tail lamp design on the Mahindra is also very contemporary.

Ride & Engine

Honda rules the 110 cc segment majorly because of its technology. The engines are reliable, low on maintenance and give impressive mileage. The recently introduced HET (Honda Eco-technology) has just made all these figures even better. The Gusto, made on an all-new global platform when compared to the Activa has a similar 109 cc engine with a power output of 8 ps and a similar CVT transmission. But here is where the Gusto springs a real surprise. It's faster off the blocks and is surely more stable at high speeds. Front telescopic forks are present in the Gusto and absent in the Honda, which means the Mahindra will be a cushier ride than the Activa. However the power delivery seems more linear on the Activa and it also is lighter in weight. The Gusto rides on larger 12 inch wheels, and therefore offers higher ground clearance, a boon for the bad roads; it also brakes better.

Verdict

Taking on the largest two-wheeler maker in the world isn't easy, but to give Mahindra the credit they have given it their all. Starting at Rs 43,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi) they have priced it aggressively too. The mileage at around 50 kmpl is similar between both the Gusto and the Activa. But Honda scores really well when it comes to a sales and service network which will take some time to breach. Till then, consider yourself lucky if you have a Mahindra two-wheeler dealer nearby because that's the only way you can get your hands on this one.

 
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