2016 Kawasaki J300 -1

Two years of persistent effort by Kawasaki Motors Malaysia (KMM) petitioning Kawasaki Japan to allow the J300 into the country saw the entry of the 2016 J300 maxi-scooter this month at a price of RM31,498. Datuk Jeffrey Lim, director of KMM said in a speech that it was exploring a specialised market segment.

“In the scooter segment, more than 95% are small scooters of 150 cc and below. The bigger scooters, 200 cc and above, are still a very small and niche market. With the introduction of the Kawasaki J300 scooter, we believe we can expand this niche market further,” said Lim. He added that KMM has a sales target of 500 units for the J300 in 2016, and the scooter was released in Malaysia ahead of Singapore and Thailand.

Based on a Kymco Downtown 300i, the Kawasaki J300 has a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 299 cc single-piston engine fed by EFI through a 34 mm diameter throttle body. Driving a CVT gearbox with centrifugal clutch, the J300 produces 27.6 hp at 7.750 rpm and 28.7 Nm of torque at 6,250 rpm.

A touch heavy in the weight stakes, coming in at 191 kg, the 2016 J300 is 2,235 mm long and 775 mm wide, with a seat height of 775 mm. Fuel is carried in a 13-litre fuel tank that is filled through a flap forward of the rider’s feet. A neat touch are the cut-outs in the floorboard, which lets the rider get both feet down without having to splay their legs too wide apart.

2016 Kawasaki J300 -17

Thoughtful details abound throughout the J300’s design, such as the parcel hook in the front panel, and a small storage compartment to the left that contains a 12-volt power socket. Lifting the seat is by using the key, and the seat-pan is lifted by a hydraulic strut, revealing a storage space large enough for a full-face helmet and small document bag, and lit by a small courtesy light.

An almost three-hour long ride on the J300 with its aggressive styling borrowed from Kawasaki’s Ninja range through Morib, Selangor, revealed its zippy performance, with the engine handling quick acceleration and sustained riding well. Hitting the bumps and potholes of the coastal road showed the rear shock absorber to have a touch too much rebound damping.

Braking on the maxi-scooter was good, with front-and-rear Bosch ABS and stainless-steel braided hoses coming as standard. Braking duties are handled by single-discs, with a 260 mm disc in front and a 240 mm unit at the back. The blue back-lit LCD instrument cluster is legible and easy to read, and it came as a surprise to find it had a tachometer.

This twist-and-go maxi-scooter is designed for the urban environment, but it can handle somewhat spirited riding as well. Under police escort, occasional speeds of up to 145 km/h were seen. While performance might be one of the J300’s selling points, its engine capacity requires riders to have a ‘B’ or ‘B1’ license.

2016 Kawasaki J300 -14

The 2016 Kawasaki J300 retails for RM31,489 including GST, and is available in only two colours – white and black. This price puts the J300 on the high-side for a maxi-scooter, compared to rivals such as the Honda NSS300 which retails for around RM27,000, the Aprilia SR Max 300 at RM31,800 and the SYM Maxsym 400i which goes for RM26,150.

Is there a place for another maxi-scooter in the Malaysian market? Although the Aprilia SR Max was a sales success, the high buy-in and licensing upgrade required from the ‘B2’ class may deter some customers. What do you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions below.