Just last week, Honda Philippines launched the highly anticipated update to its maxi-scooter, the 2021 PCX 160. Now with a 10cc bump in displacement and sporting several new improvements, it got the motorcycle world talking over the weekend.

Honda is well aware that riders are keen to know about this new ride and generously allowed us to take a short ride with its new PCX 160. So without further ado, we bring you our first impressions.

New look


First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

The first thing you’ll notice about the PCX is its distinctive new headlight design. Its LED position lights have been merged with the headlights to form one cohesive, U-shaped unit. We’ll miss the antler-shaped LEDs it used to have, however this makes it look more closely related to other Hondas like the Click and ADV150. You’ll also notice a slightly revised combination LED tail lamp. Like before, the tail lamp forms an X-pattern and integrates rear turn signals.

The body features a subtle restyles as well, making it look sleeker. From its left side, it’s very sleek as there’s hardly any trace of a center stand and acool intake duct that feeds the engine. It gives the body an almost V-shape underneath, making for steep lean angles.

It also sports a new exhaust, new star-pattern alloy wheels and bigger tubeless tires. It’s brought to a stop with disc brakes in front and behind.

New engine

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

The PCX now has an edge in power thanks to its new Enhanced Smart Power Plus (eSP+) 4-valve, single overhead cam, liquid-cooled engine, with displacement is now at 157cc. This results in 16 PS at 8,500 rpm and 14.7 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm. It comes with an Idling Stop System (ISS), which turns off the engine automatically at traffic lights, is also fitted as standard. It’s paired with a CVT transmission for fully automatic operation.

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

The rider gets a new, wider digital meter panel that’s illuminated in blue. When you have a turn signal lamp on, an entire stripe (not just the arrow) lights up.

The front shield features a large storage space capable of fitting a 1.7-liter bottle. So riders with big phones will have no trouble fitting it inside while connected to the USB port to charge.

Under the seat is a 30-liter utility box. We’ve tested it and it’s capable of storing a full-face helmet with no trouble and any additional items.

Onboard tech

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

As you’ve read in our past article, the PCX160 comes with a lot of tech, mainly the smart key system (on all variants) with an anti-theft alarm and answer back system. Besides turning the bike on, the rotary dial also unlocks the bike’s storage compartments, steering, and fuel tank.

The ride

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

What many are likely interested to know is how it rides. Despite being staged at a driving school, the Honda Safety Driving Center, there were plenty of opportunities to fully test the PCX160’s capability. The course laid out included a long straight, braking area, and successive tight turns.

It certainly brought out the PCX’s amazing handling abilities. Unlike its competitors, the PCX seems eager to learn. This is thanks to the very sport standard tires that are practically V-shaped. With just a little counter-steer, you can get the PCX to lean into a turn and maintain that lean angle easily. Dare we say, it’s much better handling than its closest competitor from the other brand.

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

The suspension is another delight as it soaks up bumps fairly well. Scooters like this typically have stiff rear springs. However, the PCX’s feel far smoother than its competitors even without a pillion.

Another part of the course included a long straight with which to test its acceleration. You can certainly feel the power from the extra 10cc. However, what was most impressive was how smooth and relatively quiet it was. Most of its competitors feel strained under hard acceleration, but the PCX still felt quite smooth and hardly troubled by it.

Once up to speed, we arrived at the braking area where we got to test the PCX with the combi-braking system (CBS) and Anti-lock braking system (ABS).

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

The CBS hardly feels like a compromise as when the rear brake lever is depressed, it automatically applies pressure to the front brake for more stopping power. It brakes much better than expected, stopping far sooner than you would expect. In fact, you can ride around the city using just the rear brake, knowing the CBS will apply to the front whenever needed.

The ABS model brakes nearly as well. However, bear in mind that ABS is only fitted on the front disc. In emergency situations, it’s still quite possible to lock up the rear wheel during hard braking.

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

Finally, Honda gave us a chance to try the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC). This is its new traction control system usually fitted on its bigger bikes. HSTC constantly monitors the speed of both the front and rear wheels. If there is a bigger difference than usual, it will cut off the throttle and power delivered to the rear wheels to reduce its speed and regain control. This happens several times a second so you hardly feel it at all. In essence, this system is to prevent wheelspin when riding over slippery surfaces like sand, water, or even oil slicks. It can be turned off, but we don’t recommend it. With HSTC on, the PCX is incredibly smooth.

Verdict

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

Though our time with the PCX160 was short, we still came away quite impressed. Honda has radically improved its refinement, making it run smoother but more effortless. It all adds up to make it feel far more premium and more luxurious than some of its competitors.

It certainly makes the PCX160 an easy choice, particularly when compared against Honda’s other offerings like the Airblade 150 and ADV150. The PCX offers the most comfortable ride, smooth power delivery, and style uniquely its own. Unlike other models where the entry level feels like it's stripped of vital features, even the PCX160 CBS still feels like a solid deal, packed with features.

First Ride: 2021 Honda PCX160 image

For those looking for a ride that makes them stand out, but still performs as sophisticated as it looks, the PCX160 is it.

We're certainly excited for it, but we'll just have to wait. The all-new Honda PCX160 will be available at all Honda dealerships nationwide on May 2021. Those interested may already make reservations.