110cc to 125cc Scooter Shootout
Halfway into 2012 and the fast emerging scooter segment has already witnessed four new entrants. But which one of them will manage to rattle the cages of the long-standing king of the hill, the Honda Activa?
Fuel for Thought
When it comes to scooters plying in the Indian scenario, power figures on paper don’t really translate into great sales numbers. Instead what works is peppy and smooth power delivery coupled with good fuel efficiency and to top it all, strong engine reliability. And no points for guessing, it is the Honda Activa that clearly leads the bandwagon of scooters in the country. The 109cc engine which replaced the dated 98cc motor on the Honda Activa in 2009, has shown incredible refinement in its new form and provides brilliantly smooth power without denting the fuel efficiency. The deficit in engine capacity over its major 125cc rivals has helped the Activa return a class leading overall fuel efficiency figure of 46.8kmpl.
With regards to the balance of performance and fuel efficiency running a close second is the Honda Activa twin, the Hero Maestro, which employs Honda engineering under its Hero moniker but boasts a slightly different engine tune resulting in better mid-range grunt than the Activa. However, the chunkier mid-range has marginally affected the fuel efficiency as the Maestro ran 45.1km on one litre of petrol. Surprise of the lot was the new and improved Mahindra Rodeo RZ, which despite posting a brilliantly quick time of 8.94 seconds in the 0-60km/h dash, returned us a fuel efficiency figure of 43.7kmpl under mixed riding conditions to take the third spot. The 124cc engine powering the Rodeo RZ has always impressed us with its strong performance, but the earlier version of the Rodeo was mightily thirsty for fuel and that has been bettered in its latest avatar along with some other changes that we shall speak about a bit later.
The Italian wasp’s entry has rather shaken the scooter segment and while some consumers might have thrown a fit, most of them are looking at the gorgeous scooter as rich boy’s toy. But there is more to the Vespa than meets the eye and it has certainly energized the rather bland scooter sector in the country. And at its price-point the Vespa is certainly not placed alongside the leader Honda Activa or the latest entrant, the Mahindra Rodeo RZ. But plying in the same space of scooters, the Vespa rides like a dream with a very healthy seamless throw of power right from the word go and despite being the bulkiest scooter amongst the crop weighing 114kg, the Vespa did exceptionally well with regards to performance, posting a time of 8.94 seconds in the 0-60km/h run. But the energetic 124cc engine pumping out impressive 10.2PS of power and 9.6Nm of torque is not exactly frugal as the Vespa only managed 42kmpl during our test. Couple the fuel efficiency to the premium pricing and this Italian lad here is certainly not for the average Joe Indian commuter but for the spender with taste in everything exotic.
So while I pretended to enjoy most of the scooters, (I admit liking the Vespa on occasions because it made me feel like a flamboyant movie star), the Suzuki Swish 125 changed my very perception about scooters on sale currently in the Indian market. Over a second faster than its rivals, the Swish 125 recorded a blisteringly quick 0-60km/h time of 7.7 seconds! But the obvious victim of this performance gain of the Swish 125 has been fuel efficiency with an overall consumption figure coming considerably low at 38kmpl. Factor in the rising fuel costs and the Swish 125 is a difficult proposition for the mileage conscious Indian buyer.
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