TVS Star City+ vs Hero Splendor iSmart vs Mahindra Centuro
- Jun 26, 2014
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The entry-level segment of motorcycles isn’t among the most intriguing genre of motorcycles for a two-wheeler enthusiast. But the fact remains that they account for the majority share of the total two-wheeler sales in our country. So it isn’t surprising that every major two-wheeler manufacturer wants to cash in on this segment and soar their profits. Not too long ago, the basic requirement of an entry-level consumer was a frugal and reliable motorcycle. But times have changed a lot ever since, it isn’t that the above two parameters have lost value but the criteria of a modern commuter motorcyclist has augmented.
Design, performance and features are the new ‘wants’ today. To cater to the ever increasing demand of consumers, manufacturers have been fast upgrading their commuter motorcycle portfolio and launching new products on a regular basis. The latest entrant into the commuter motorcycle spectrum is the TVS City+. Can the latest entrant rival the likes of the Hero Splendor iSmart and the Mahindra Centuro? Let’s find out
Design and Features:
Design was one department that was neglected by entry-level segment buyers as function was always given leverage over form. But gladly things have changed for the better and design of the commuter bikes have enhanced with passage of time. In terms of design, none of the bikes that we have standout by virtue of their styling as they follow the same basic design ethos of a modern commuter motorcycles. The Hero Splendor iSmart is the most eye-catching of the lot due to its snazzy graphics whereas the Star City+ is subdued and understated, the Mahindra Centuro slots in between with respect to visual presence. Talking about the instrument cluster, the Splendor iSmart has a pretty basic looking analogue speedometer and fuel gauge, the only notable feature is the side stand indicator.
The Star City+ has an analogue dial for speedometer and a digital fuel gauge along with a service indicator and typical TVS, eco and power mode indicator. The Centuro’s cluster is the most loaded on in terms of feature as it sports a tachometer, digital speedometer with trip meter and distance-to-empty fuel indicator. The tachometer is a useful addition on a performance oriented motorcycle and I personally feel it isn’t of much use rather than bragging rights on the Centuro. Additional features on the Centuro include LED pilot lamp and tail lamp whereas the Star City+ gets a badge instead of a sticker for its moniker on the centre panel. The Star City+ and the iSmart sports contrast stitching on seats which is a neat detail and also the Hero offering is equipped with a spring loaded rider footrests. In terms of fit and finish, the TVS Star City+ is the clear winner as the build quality and crispness of the switchgear is more impressive than the iSmart and Centuro giving the bike a premium and upmarket feel.
Engine and performance:
The Splendor iSmart is marginally low on displacement as it is powered by the now iconic 97.2cc mill that was plonked on every Hero commuter offering. The air-cooled motor generates 7.8PS of power and 8Nm of torque which feels adequate for the bike but the motor isn’t eager as the other two offerings. Power is transmitted to the rear-wheel via a four-speed gearbox that works faultlessly and one of the standout features of the Splendor iSmart’s powerplant is its vibe-free nature even while running at its peak performance. Powering the Centuro is the in-house developed MCi-5 engine which is marginally powerful than the Splendor.
But the difference is good enough to make its presence felt in real world conditions as the Centuro feels and rides swifter than the iSmart. But the MCi-5 motor can’t match the refinement of Hero’s mill and we found the gearbox to be a bit sticky. The TVS Star City+’s motor feels the most eager of the lot as the bike surges ahead with relative ease in comparison to the other two offerings. The Star City+ powerplant also feels the most refined while cruising between speeds of 60 to 70km/h. The four-speed gearbox of the TVS offering is the best of the lot as gearshifts are crisp and precise. But at higher speeds vibrations start creeping in, especially from handlebars and fuel tank. Braking performance is almost similar on all the bikes, which, it must be said, isn’t great by any stretch.
Comfort and Handling:
Aside from efficiency, comfort is probably the most important aspect that is heavily taken into consideration for bikes in this segment. And it isn’t just the width of the seat that determines how comfortable a motorcycle is but the overall ergonomics and ride quality. In terms of riding posture, we felt that the Star City+ had the most comfortable posture with raised handle bars, useful tank recess and aptly cushioned seats. The riding posture of the iSmart is similar to other Hero commuter offerings whereas owing to its low handlebar the Centuro’s is a bit uncomfortable. Another factor that contributes immensely to the comfort quotient is ride quality.
The TVS Star City+ leads the charge in this aspect as well with supple ride quality and it handled adulations with relative ease. The stiff suspension setup of the Hero Splendor iSmart translates into a harsh ride quality whereas the Centuro slots itself between its rivals on this front. More than handling, what consumers in the entry-level segment motorcycles look out for is nimbleness, so as to carve their way out through the traffic infested city streets. The TVS Star City+ emerges victorious on this facet as well due to its lively handling dynamics and it’s an ease to flick the bike from side-to-side, the iSmart comes a close second whereas the Centuro feels a bit lazy on its feet.
This is the most vital criteria for an Indian two-wheeler buyer as no matter what segment of motorcycle he is looking at, fuel efficiency is always in his mind and more so in the entry-level segment. The Mahindra Centuro brings up the rear in this regard. It returned an overall fuel efficiency of 65kmpl. But with a tank capacity of 12.7-litre, the Centuro has the highest, real world range of 827km on a full tank. The TVS Star City+ was second, in terms of mileage as it returned an overall figure of 69kmpl.
With a tank capacity of 10-litre, the Star City+ has a range of 690km with a filled to the brim tank. Equipped with the novel start-stop technology, the Splendor iSmart is the most fuel efficient of the lot with an overall fuel efficiency of 72kmpl. So is the start-stop tech really instrumental in hiking its fuel efficiency? Well it is only useful, if you encounter numerous signals on your daily commute and isn’t of much help in crawling city traffic scenarios. The iSmart has the smallest tank of the trio with a capacity of 8.7-litre that translates to a real world range of just 626km on a full tank.
The entry-level segment buyers are extremely sensitive to price and look out for a value for money proposition. Priced at Rs 47,934 (ex-showroom Delhi), the Centuro is the second most expensive motorcycle among the lot and although it isn’t as fuel efficient, as refined or as well put together as its rivals, what works in its favour are features and an upmarket feel. It is loaded with features that motorcycles from higher segments can’t match and this is among the main factors of it clocking sales of over 1 lakh units within six months from its launch.
The Splendor iSmart with its start-stop tech is the most expensive here at Rs 48,550 (ex-showroom Delhi). Still, it comes second in our shootout as despite its steep pricing the iSmart remains among the most frugal and reliable bike in the market along with the backing of the largest spread of dealer network in the country. Also, the new snazzy dual-tone shade and graphics coupled with added features make it an attractive proposition visually, which can’t be said of its predecessor.
The TVS Star City+ then is the winner of this test. And for the right reasons too: It has the best fit-and-finish, the best engine and gearbox combo, and the plushest ride quality. It’s also fuel efficient, and then what seals it for the TVS Star City+ is its price. At Rs 44,000(ex-showroom Delhi), the Star City+ is the cheapest motorcycle among the trio making it fantastic value for money. And, that’s exactly what a price conscious entry-level segment buyer wants at the end.
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