TVS NTorq 125: First Ride Review
- Feb 18, 2018
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Joining the 125cc scooter race now is TVS, with its newly launched scooter, the NTorq. And boy did it impress us with its youthful character during our first ride experience. But then the first ride was only limited to a track. Let's find out then if the torquey scooter is equally fun in the real world, while fulfilling the primary needs expected of a scooter. And can it beat the snazzy Honda Grazia as the go-to scooter for the young hearted?
Design & Build Quality
While a lot of the features of the Graphite concept haven’t made it to the NTorq, its edgy and pronounced design lines certainly have. The front of the NTorq is sharply raked, with a two-tone paint scheme. The V-shaped headlight isn’t an LED unit; nonetheless, it does feature an LED DRL. Brightness from the headlight is admirable, with more focused low and high beams. The Aprilia SR150-inspired front indicators look a bit plain when compared to the overall design.
Once onboard, you are greeted by a PSP-inspired digital display with a host of information, but more on that later. It gets bar-end weights and the switchgear quality is also top-notch, with no sign of complaint towards functionality either. However, the large indicator switch will require getting used to. A first for any modern scooter in India is the engine kill switch. Another admirable feature is the carbon texture spotted all across, which does look nice, but might feel a bit overkill to some.
Around the back, the striking T-shaped LED tail light is flanked by jet exhaust-like vents, which, again, some might find a bit too much, though we quite like them. Adding a touch of sportiness to the rear are the motorcycle-style stalk-mounted indicators.
There are a few points of concern about the NTorq though. The front mudguard, which is three separate pieces bolted together, is possibly prone to rattling over time. And the same is possible of the panels, which are held together by a large number of screws. They do the job quite well, but could loosen over time. But the biggest point of concern are the exposed wires and pipes around the engine bay, which are at risk of getting damaged.
Otherwise, the carbon fibre-style finish on the seat with red stitching, machined alloy footpegs/filler cap and even the paint quality is properly upmarket. And at least in the short term, the NTorq passes the fit-finish and build quality test with flying colours.
Honda has put in some serious effort to add freshness to the otherwise dated image of scooters in India. This attempt has given birth to the snazzy looking Grazia, which showcases sharp, angular panels all around. Its V-shaped headlight cluster gets dual LED headlamps, with clear lens indicators placed on top. These headlights are certainly more energy efficient than the NTorq’s halogen lamp, but their brightness and spread is at par.
Compared to the NTorq, switchgear quality and operation of switches is decent, but not exceptional. Also, the rear brake lock clamp requires both hands to lock in, which is bothersome. And the Grazia could’ve really used a pass switch for the headlight.
The sleek side panels continue the sharp look of the front onto the rear. The split grab rails blend nicely with the angular design and are also very easy to hold for the pillion. The three-piece tail light and indicator cluster doesn’t get any LEDs and certainly doesn't look as sharp or attractive as the NTorq’s unit.
Overall the quality of the Grazia is typical of Honda, which even though admirable, fails to match the standards put forward by TVS.
The NTorq’s fully digital instrument cluster allows riders to pair their phones via Bluetooth. TVS is also offering a smartphone app, designed for Android only. Once connected, the app helps you locate your parked scooter, get your last ride report with distance covered and top speed, and also features built-in navigation as well courtesy MapMyIndia. We tried the navigation assist feature and it worked flawlessly, with directions popping up on the white-backlit console. And you can also search for nearby petrol pumps, hospitals, restaurants and authorised service stations.
Other features include a custom rider name that flashes on the display every time you switch on the ignition. Then there’s a ‘do not disturb’ mode, auto-reply SMS and overspeeding alert, all of which can be accessed in ‘Street Mode,’ while ‘Race Mode’ allows riders to record top speed and lap times. A bit much? Youngsters might disagree. Basic information includes a speedometer, two tripmeters, odometer, fuel gauge, time and engine temperature as well, though there’s no tachometer here.
While it was the Grazia that first introduced the all-digital display in this category, it's a more basic setup in comparison to the NTorq. There is no geeky stuff happening here. The console only showcases a speedometer and tachometer on top. The second, smaller, red-backlit LCD panel displays information like time, fuel gauge, odometer and a tripmeter. Overall, the separate display panels offer an uncluttered look.
Engine & Performance
Both scooters are powered by a 125cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine. While the NTorq’s engine is all new, the Grazia shares its engine with the Activa 125. The 3-valve motor on the NTorq makes 9.4PS of power and 10.5Nm of torque, whereas the Grazia produces 8.6PS and 10.54Nm.
Now with the roughly 1PS of extra power, you would expect the NTorq to be quick on its feet, and, well, it is. A whopping 1.3s seconds faster, with a 0-60kmph time of 7.65 seconds. And that’s despite the NTorq weighing a hefty 116kg - 9kg more than the Grazia. Acceleration, though, is extremely linear, and doesn’t feel as punchy as you’d expect.
It gets to 30kmph quick enough, with a strong midrange up to 60kmph. Post that though, acceleration dips a bit. Mild vibrations on the floorboard are also felt post 45kmph but disappear past 50kmph. We particularly love the induction noise, which adds a bit of bass to the raspy exhaust note.
The Grazia feels very familiar to the Activa 125 in terms of power delivery - responsive from the moment you open the throttle. Beyond 40kmph though, the power delivery flattens out. This particular trait is a norm across all Honda scooters now, thanks to the age-old variomatic transmission, which gives you the initial grunt but runs out of steam later. As a result, despite weighing just 107kg, the Grazia gets from zero to 60kmph in 9.03 seconds.
While we are not complaining much about refinement levels on the Honda Grazia, it is the NTorq that wins this battle. Particularly because of the Grazia’s annoying jitter everytime the transmission engages as you throttle from a standstill. However, once you gain a little momentum, the Grazia demonstrates typical Honda refinement, which is a compliment.
Let’s face it, when you think scooters, the first thing that pops up is ‘Kitna deti hai?’ To answer that, the two scooters are almost matched in the city, with the NTorq offering 47kmpl to the Grazia’s 46.7kmpl.
Ride Quality & Comfort
Built around an all-new chassis, the NTorq packs telescopic front forks and a gas-charged rear monoshock. TVS has struck an impressive balance of sportiness and comfort with the NTorq. For this, the front suspension is undoubtedly set up on the firmer side (not as firm as the Grazia’s), while the rear feels relatively softer. As a result, sharp bumps give you a thud at the front, which the rear soaks them up with ease. So while it deals with potholes and speed breakers well enough, these can be dealt with a lot more confidence. We even took it through some rough road patches and it soaked up everything competently, with just the front feeling a bit stiff. Also, the weight and the chunky tyres offer oodles of stability and confidence on loose surfaces. Big bumps and deep potholes, though, need to be handled with caution.
The Grazia shares its chassis and suspension setup with the Activa 125. The ride quality from the stiffly set telescopic front forks and softly sprung monoshock rear isn’t all that plush, be it any speed. Over some rough road stretches the Grazia felt very jittery and light, and failed to inspire confidence. The front end feels a lot more stiff compares to the NTorq, while the rear tends to wallow over long road undulations.
For comfort, TVS has offered a soft padded seat that feels plush, without it being too soft like the one on Jupiter. It’s also a more comfortable place for the pillion, despite the seat being slightly smaller. It’s slightly raised and makes for a more natural pillion posture. But if the pillion is a bit generously sized, the edges of this smaller seat can feel a bit pokey.
The Honda Grazia also gets a well padded seat which is slightly firmer and a lot flatter than the NTorq’s. Plus it’s wider and longer, so you’d assume it’s more comfortable. Rider comfort isn’t an issue but the seat tends to slope backwards with a pillion aboard, sending back seaters scrambling to get a grip on the grab rail to assume a more upright seating posture. What’s more, with the softly set monoshock compressing a lot more with the pillion on board, the front feels floaty, almost unnerving.
The ergonomics are pretty much scooter-standard on both, with an upright riding position. Both offer easy reach to the handlebars as well. The NTorq’s handlebars are higher and straighter compared to the ones on the Grazia, which are lower-set, tilting more towards the rider. This allows even riders over six feet tall to manoeuvre the NTorq with ease, without the fear of the handlebar hitting their knees in tight turns - a common occurrence on the Grazia.
The NTorq is also more accommodating when it comes to seat height. The tapering and narrow seat allows shorter riders to easily reach the ground. The seat height also feels lower in comparison to the Grazia’s, which is taller and wider. Really short riders might struggle here.
Handling & Braking
The stiffer front definitely helps the NTorq charge into corners with a lot of poise. The slightest input at the handlebar and the scooter tips in rapidly. In fact, the quick steering caught us off guard at first but you get used to it in no time. The scooter even feels planted and confident mid-corner thanks to the longish 1285mm wheelbase. Bear in mind though that the low-set floorboard will scrape on the sides if pushed too hard in corners. A big thumbs up to the specially developed TVS Remora tyres which aid the NTorq’s handling prowess.
However, while the rounded profile allows you to lean in the scooter unlike any, its a bit of a letdown on the braking front, although not by a great margin. As a result, the 60-0kmph test is achieved in 18.93 metres - about 0.9 metres more than the Grazia. There’s a clear focus on striking a good balance between tyre life and outright grip.
Speaking of brakes, the NTorq gets a 220mm petal disc at the front and a 130mm drum at the rear. Feel from the front brake is a bit lacking, and the bite isn’t very sharp either. But squeeze the lever hard, and deceleration is progressive. The rear drum has a sharper bite, and has a tendency of locking up under very hard braking. However, apply the two together and the scooter comes to a stop without any drama or tyre squeal.
In the handling department, the Grazia doesn’t feel as confident as the NTorq but still holds its own. Push it too hard, and it quickly gets out of its comfort zone. The tyres don’t feel as grippy around corners as the TVS’. But they make up for it by offering better grip under hard braking. As a result, the Grazia comes to halt from 60kmph in 18.03 metres. We rode the top spec Grazia, with a 190mm front disc and a 130mm rear drum. Even though the brakes do offer confidence under hard braking you really need to pull the levers hard to shed speed quickly.
The safety net of Honda’s Combi-Brake System (CBS), available as standard, should come in handy for both new and seasoned commuters. It is something that the NTorq doesn’t have now, but will get in the near future.
On the NTorq, there’s no luggage mount under the seat. But it does get a hook behind the front apron. That said, the floorboard isn’t as wide as the Grazia’s. While there’s enough room for your feet, some more breathing space would have been appreciated. And it misses out on cubby holes on the front apron too, so mobile phones and other knick-knacks need to either go under the seat or on your person.
The 22-litre underseat space on the NTorq is the largest in its class, one litre more than even the Suzuki Access 125. Sadly, it’s still not enough to fit an international-spec full-face helmet. But something the size of a laptop can easily slip in along with other small items. TVS also offers a boot light with an integrated USB charger, a handy feature indeed!
The Grazia gets a cubby storage behind the front apron, enough to hold a mobile phone, and offers an optional charging socket in it as well. The flat floorboard is wide enough for your feet, while accommodating a large laptop bag too. Under its wide and long seat the Grazia gets 18 litres of storage, adequate for plentiful small items. But it’s nowhere as large as the NTorq’s storage space.
When it arrived, the Honda Grazia created a stir in the industry with its youthful features and aggressive styling. But when you pitch it against the TVS NTorq in the real world, there are many areas where the Grazia leaves you wanting. Especially when you factor in its price tag of Rs 63,418 (ex-Delhi) for the disc brake variant. Yes, you do get LED headlights and Combi Brake System. But even then, it’s rather hard to justify the Rs 4500 premium over the NTorq, which offers a lot more features, better ride quality, performance, efficiency, sound and thrill factor, while being equally reliable. That too at a competitive price point of Rs 58,750 (ex-Delhi). The NTorq a properly well rounded package that’s fun and youthful at the same time, making it the winner in our books.
Words by Karan Narsu
Photography by Vikrant Date
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