Hero Honda Passion Plus - The price of passion


Think ‘Hero Honda’ and three things immediately spring to mind. The first is massive sales figures, with the CD-Dawn and Splendor selling in mind-boggling numbers and the other models pulling their weight too. Fuel efficiency figures bordering on the obscene come next. Their propensity for fairly dubious model names (remember the Joy?) rounds off the troika. The company’s bread-and-butter playing field is the execommuter segment, and this is the market that has seen the most intense competition in the recent past. Virtually every manufacturer has a thumb in this pie, to the extent that there is very little to distinguish between the various bikes on offer. The Passion Plus, therefore, is yet another attempt to catch the consumer’s eye and hopefully, lighten his wallet.

Take a gander at the bike and there’s no doubt that it’s attractive. Nothing spectacular, but it has all the right lines. The two most important introductions are an optional disc brake and the addition of Zapper tyres (at last!). There’s a two-tone paint scheme on offer, which can be a hit-and-miss affair. Cloud Silver and blue looks very good, but Candy Blazing Red and light pink? I don’t think so! In fact, the range of colours is almost LML Freedom-esqe in it’s variety. You also get body coloured mirrors, white dials, a heat shield on the exhaust and a halogen headlamp. The wheelbase is now 5mm longer at 1235mm.

What does all this mean in real world terms? The bike is still underpowered next to 8 or more bhp from the competition. So if you’re looking to get-on-and-rip, look elsewhere. Although this machine isn’t built for that kind of riding, a competitor like the TVS Victor will show it a clean pair of heels. Braking sees a vast improvement, thanks to the disc, and cornering is more assured because of the premium rubber at both ends. Our test bike’s gearshift proves rather notchy, with a tendency to lock when downshifting. Other than that, the ride is quite good and you will get from point A to B in comfort.

The nub of the matter, however, lies in pricing. The Passion, at approximately Rs. 44,000 ex-showroom, was priced well above the competition and wasn’t a lot of bike for the money. This model, with all the cosmetics thrown in, comes at no extra cost (for the drum brake version) and remains a good Rs. 4000 dearer than the competition. For that money, you don’t get much more than two-tone paint, an exhaust heat-shield and body-colored mirrors. With the disc, the difference in price shoots up by about Rs. 7000. 

Is the bike worth that much more? I suppose one can sum things up in this manner: the very name Hero Honda causes people to trust the products and buy with their eyes shut. Things shouldn’t be any different with the Passion Plus!