There is a lot to like about scooters, despite what ‘real’ motorcyclists might say about them. The Honda PCX is a good example, which, for 2019, comes as the Honda PCX 150 at RM10,999 and the Honda PCX Hybrid at RM13,499, excluding road tax, insurance and registration.

The convenience of an automatic gearbox, storage space under the seat, easy handling manners and ease of use in an urban environment makes the PCX popular as daily transport. Now there is the added attraction of the hybrid version, which makes this 150 cc scooter more cost effective, or does it?

With the launch of the 2019 PCX 150 and PCX Hybrid, Honda has updated its urban scooter offerings and there are several updates which make this year’s models a touch attractive over the outgoing PCX. There is also the full electric PCX scooter, currently on test in Japan for urban trips with short desire paths, but we were informed by Boon Siew Honda that it would not likely be coming in anytime soon.

Back to the matter at hand, this pair of scooters. Taking the pair of PCXs (PCXes? PCXii? Someone give me a plural for this…) at face value, styling is rather more sharp then the previous generation PCX.

We liked it, a lot, but as regular readers will know, the author prefers to get more into what is a bike, or in this case, a scooter, like to ride and live with versus just, as some have accused him of, regurgitating a press release or parroting specifications. With that in mind, let us take a look at the Honda PCX Hybrid and Honda PCX scooters.

So, with this scooter duo, Boon Siew Honda is looking to create a wave, much as it did when the first edition of the PCX was launched. At the first approach, we found the styling of the PCX to be all sharp and angular, looking like it rolled off the streets of Neo Tokyo.

Getting the numbers out of the way, the PCX produces 14.5 hp at 8,500 rpm and 13.6 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm, courtesy of a redesigned intake and exhaust that gives more power over the previous model’s 12.5 hp and 13.1 Nm. Power, as is usual for scooters, goes through an automatic gearbox and V-belt final drive.

Mounting the PCX, the seat height is a very reasonable 764 mm from the ground. Riders who fall under 1.4 metres in height should note the cut-outs in the floor boards are not particularly deep, meaning legs will be splayed out a little and games of tippy-toe might be played.

Starting off, the PCX and PCX Hybrid both come with keyless start, a convenience we are beginning to like more and more in today’s bikes and scooters. While there is the disadvantage of not actually being able to start the machine if the battery is flat in either the fob or the scooter itself, there is a manual over ride detailed further in this review.

Turning the starter dial, located on the dashboard, the PCX comes to life with a very muted burble from the exhaust. Starting off, takeoff is sprightly and moving away from stops and traffic lights is easy with the acceleration available.

You’re not going to win any quarter-miles but off the white line at city traffic lights, things happen quickly and you can put some distance between yourself and the following traffic. The PCX builds speed seamlessly because of the CVT gearbox and belt drive, then you find yourself topping out at around 135 km/h.

What this means is you’re going to have fun in the city but out on the open highway, don’t pick fights with Myvis and Vivas. In terms of seat comfort though, while the seat on the PCX is quite firm, we didn’t find much discomfort on medium length rides but longer stints in the saddle did put some pressure at certain points in the rider’s butt.

In and around the city, the narrow form factor of the PCX makes it easy to zip through traffic. Braking on the PCX, done with a single hydraulic disc in front and drum brake at the back, with ABS omitted.

Considering the price of what Boon Siew Honda is asking for a 150 cc scooter, we would have thought ABS would be included, even at a slight price premium. But this is another matter for a different forum in any case, as we found braking on the PCX to be quite good with two fingers on the lever with both brake levers needed for very quick stops.

One thing we found very handy with the PCX and every other scooter we’ve ridden is the underseat storage, in this case, some 25-litres worth. Note that in the PCX Hybrid, this storage space is halved due to the battery packs but in the PCX, you can store a single helmet with some jiggling around.

Helmet storage comes with a caveat though, especially for full-face helmets such as the Shark Race-R Pro which did not fit inside the space, but our Arai RX7 did, as well as a HJC RPHA-10 but we did not attempt to fit other brands. So, try before you buy if you use a full-face helmet full time, like the author. Open-face helmet users will not face any issues.

The PCX comes with a taller screen than the PCX Hybrid, which we put down to Boon Siew Honda wanting to diffrentiate visually between the two scooters. For instrumentation, there is a large monochrome LCD panel that displays the necessary information and we found the numerals to be legible under most lighting conditions.

Inside the storage space is a courtesy light, which is a nice touch, while a 12-Volt charge adaptor is found inside the dashboard. Unlocking the PCX is keyless, a key fob controlling the immobiliser, locater and alarm.

Starting and opening up the PCX 150 is done with a rotary switch on the dashboard with a secondary rocker switch controlling opening of the seat or fuel filler cover. We liked the convenience of keyless start and remote opening switches, making the use of the PCX for quick around town and to the shops trips fuss free.

One question we were asked is what happens if the battery goes flat on the PCX. In this case, you will need a special magnetic key that comes with the PCX and is used to manually turn the switch located inside the compartment to the right of the main rotary switch allowing the rider to lift the seat.

Once open, the rider has access to the battery compartment. However, the steering lock and immobiliser is still activated and the key fob is still required to unlock and start the PCX.

Parking is an added convenience with the PCX, coming as it does with both side and centre stands and the 130 kg weight of the scooter is easy to handle for every type of rider. Fuel, some 8-litres worth, is carried under the floor boards and gave about 140 kilometres of range.

Which brings us to the PCX Hybrid which adds a 48-Volt electric motor and Lithium-ion battery into the mix. This bumps the weight of the PCX Hybrid to 134 kg while the motor provides an extra 1.9 hp and 4.3 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm.

What this means is that during low rpm operation, notably starting from standstill, the electric motor gives a little assist to the PCX Hybrid. In real terms, we found during rough acceleration tests between the PCX and PCX Hybrid, the difference during acceleration was noticeable but not as large as you might think it to be.

The PCX Hybrid certainly does feel more sprightly when moving around and the acceleration felt more responsive. Riding the PCX Hybrid and the PCX back to back made the rider feel somewhat like riding a bike that had just had a service and felt ‘fresh’.

There are two power modes on the PCX Hybrid, Drive and Sport with the main difference between the two being Sport gives better throttle response and more drive, helped by the electric motor. We did not notice a real difference in fuel consumption between the PCX and PCX Hybrid but managed to get something like 1.8 litres per 100 km for the PCX Hybrid while the PCX returned 2.1 litres per 100 km, roughly.

Handling on either of the PCX Hybrid and PCX 150 was much the same and within the envelope, worked well. Loaded with a pillion, we noticed a lack of rebound damping on both scooters so take it easy in fast corners and no sudden turns on the handlebars.

So, who needs either the Honda PCX 150, or PCX Hybrid, priced at RM10,999 and RM13,499, respectively. In the 150 cc premium scooter market, main competition comes from the Yamaha NVX 155, with front wheel ABS, priced at RM9,988 and the NMax at RM8,812, though Yamaha does not offer a hybrid.

As a city runabout, either the PCX 150 or PCX Hybrid will serve in that role well, with medium length commutes of about 30 to 60 kilometres well within the performance envelope. In terms of choice though, the PCX gets the nod for the larger storage space while the PCX Hybrid wins the acceleration stakes while losing out on space.

2019 Honda PCX 150
2019 Honda PCX 150 Hybrid