REVIEW RIDE: Honda Vario 160 Scooter

THE Honda Vario 160 is a 4-stroke engine scooter, one of the latest of automatic bikes that has join Honda's line-up of Beat 125, Vario 125 (newly-introduced) and ADV 160, offering motorcyclists options to choose.

The Vario 160 happens to be the first scooter I am reviewing in over 4 years, no thanks to the global pandemic. Most other reviews since then till now were of the naked and sporty types.

The Honda Vario 160 is supported by wider tubeless tire sizes, the front having 100/80-14 and rear 120/70-14, that will give riders more confidence on cornering. This test ride confirms the Vario 160 is able to navigate corners with ease.

Also, the Vario 160 offers fresh features in terms of appearance. The lighting system comes in full LED on all lighting points exclusively on the headlight, taillight, and blinkers giving the bike a modern and sporty touch. The Vario 160 is equipped with a full digital panel meter with complete necessary information including Smart Key indicators, digital hours, fuel consumption, and ABS indicator.

Vario 160 made a brief stopover here

As with any review model, how did the Vario 160 fares in this review? Pretty good. It's a joy to use, easy to maintain, very sleek in design, and very agile when lane filtering thru morning and evening traffic congestion. Malaysia is one of the countries in South East Asia region where lane filtering when riding a motorcycle is legal and allowed by the authorities.

Of course, it does have its limitations but thankfully that's only a few vs. the advantages. For instance, the Vario 160 is nice to ride almost everywhere, particularly on twisty roads. But once the twisty ends, and wider, 3-lane expressway begins, the ride can be boring especially if it's used for cruising in-between 70-80km/h mode. It's much more exciting to ride the Vario 160 via such speeds on roads with more bends and corners than long straights!

This review was done in solo mode, meaning without a pillion, so performance-wise, it's very agile and satisfying, to say the least. Despite a solo ride throughout, the seat is comfortable, with no agony feeling on the rider's butt after 2 hours of continuous ride!

Speaking of that long ride, the Vario 160's 5.5-litre fuel capacity allows it to last that period without interruption. That's more than 200km mileage with approximately 0.7-litre* remaining! This is thanks to the eSP engine technology used by Honda for its range of compact scooters.

*Our test ride was easy on the throttle, mainly on cruising (75-96km/h) than outright top speeds hence fuel consumption was economical.

Compared to the popular ADV 160, there's a slight vibration from the Vario 160 when riding near the top speed, which is hardly noticeable if one isn't looking for it.

For this test, the Vario 160 scooter managed a speed of 123km/h with the rider sitting upright while moving on a straight, flat surface. When the road changes to moving down a slope, an increase to 126km/h is possible. And should the rider bows down to resist wind pressure, a top speed of 130-133km/h is achievable, as according to Vario's LCD speedometer.

Where performance and handling are concerned, the Vario 160 has its own charm. It's quick, very agile, and coupled with the automatic transmission, allows the rider to swiftly navigate through traffic with ease. The Vario 160's engine braking makes slowing the scooter a breeze, without the need to apply both front/rear brakes unless there's an object upfront.

For night riding , the quadruple LED headlights lit up the road for up to 15m away, and add a further 5m during High Beam illumination. There's no worries of sudden appearance of hazards like potholes, speed humps, cyclists without lights and dark clothing pedestrian thanks to the illumination.

What about the Vario 160's braking power? It's quite impressive for a scooter featuring an ABS-type on the single disc front, rear disc is without. For most parts, applying the front alone would slow the Vario 160, using hard braking for both would stop it. As an ABS-equipped front brake, it takes slightly longer for the Vario 160 to come to a complete stop if it's being applied independently from the rear.

Other features of the Vario 160 are a glove compartment, a hook point for hanging light items, and a slot besides the main operation button. The operation button doubles up as the Smart Key ignition and seat opening controls. Like the X-ADV, the Smart Key is the Vario 160's keyless ignition, with the operation button serving as the ON/OFF switch.

As an added security feature, the Smart Key can disable the main button when the Vario 160 is parked, preventing unauthorised start. This prevents the button from turning in any direction, disallowing the scooter to start.

The Honda Vario 160 also comes with a USB charger type A, where a socket is available for
charging without the need to use an additional adapter. Riders will also be able to bring most
of their belongings as the Vario 160 comes with vast 18-litre utility storage.

The storage compartment underneath the seat holds one open face helmet w/visor but won't accommodate a full face type. From the rider's perspective, the Vario 160's handlebars are similar in appearance to that of a Honda Cub than a scooter. As with all of Honda's small capacity scooters, the Vario 160 employs the Auto engine-off feature whenever it stops, like traffic lights or congestion. This feature can be switched off.

18-litre Storage compartment holds an open face helmet w/visor

Due to its compact size, the Vario 160 is an ideal scooter for the ladies, as compared to the ADV 160, which is larger and suitable for men. The compactness make it easy to park or navigate out from a packed parking basement.

The Honda Vario 160 is available in four colour options namely Vivacity Red, Pear Nightfall Blue and Sword Silver Metallic for the price of RM9,998 each. The Black Edition Vario 160 is priced at RM10,298. The four colour variants are available now from all authorised Honda Impian X dealership.

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