"Scooters are not manly," said one of my bike enthusiast friend during a weekend rendezvous. But the Honda Dio owner in our group chose to differ: "Then how come scooters are selling more than motorcycles these days."
His argument made us think. Yes, scooters are practical, especially to the city dwellers. It's like plug & play USB drive. There is nothing much you need to do -- no countless number of gear shifts and clutch lever dabbings. Playing with accelerator and brake is the only business here.
At the end of the debate, even the bike enthusiast among us recognized on the viability of scooters. But then, which scooter would you choose? The options are many. And what if you want to satisfy the bike enthusiast in you who look for the 'macho appeal,' while opting a scooter, you end up with a limited number of choices.
Honda, the leader in the segment, already has around six models and most of them sell like hotcakes. With a run-of-the-mill scooter model, one cannot challenge the hierarchy here. TVS knows this status quo and their latest addition to the scooter segment, the Ntorq 125, offers much more than what we have seen on a scooter so far.
We have tested the Ntorq 125 at TVS' in-house test track in Hosur. During the pre-ride briefing, TVS officials reiterated that it's a sporty scooter.
We spent almost a day on the track, riding the new model. Here's our verdict.
The one word that sums up the Ntorq 125's stance is sporty. TVS has gone all out to make the Ntorq 125 look sporty it can be seen even in the minute details. We particularly liked the rear of the scooter with T-shaped LED tail-lamp with a diffused effect, which looks unique. The faux-afterburner-style rear vents are sporty and indicators housed in the panel has an integrated look. The split grab rails and faux carbon-fiber touches all around that include the switch panels are again sporty. Other muscular bits in the design include chunky exhaust muffler, edgy lines on the body panels and contrast stitching to the seat.
At the front, raked-out apron with crease on both sides and silver-finished handlebar ends add to the macho appeal. The V-shaped headlamp with LED daytime running lamps gels perfectly with the apron. The gloss black alloy wheels complete the overall sporty theme of the scooter.
Mere looks may not woo the target audience of the Ntorq 125. Keeping this in mind, TVS has loaded its new scooter with an array of connectivity options. The Ntorq 125 debuts the company's SmartXonnect technology. This Bluetooth-enabled technology is paired to the Ntorq mobile app and provides first-in-segment details like a fully-digital speedometer, navigation assist, phone battery strength display, last parked location assist, service reminder, trip meter and multi-ride statistic modes such as 'Street' and 'Sport' on the 5-inch console.
How can the TVS deny its passion for racing, which is in its DNA? The sporty model shows details like top-speed time, lap time, average speed and others for the spirited riders. The technology also allows the rider to view various details like incoming call alerts, SMS alerts, missed call alerts, high-speed alert and others on the display.
As the name Ntorq 125 suggests, the scooter is equipped with 125cc mill. The new CVTi-Revv, single-cylinder, three-valve, air-cooled SOHC engine develops 9.3bhp at 7,500rpm and a peak torque of 10.5 Nm. TVS claims the additional valve amplifies the performance of the engine with better acceleration. The motor comes mated to an automatic transmission and the scooter has a rated top speed of 95kmph.
Being a six-footer, one of the perennial problem for me with the scooters is that my knees will touch handlebar ends while taking a turn. The high set handlebar of Ntorq 125 is spot on for tall riders as it never touched my knees during the ride. The seating position of the Ntorq is relaxed and seat height is not too tall. This makes the scooter ideal for short riders as well.
The switch gears are positioned fantastically and there is no need to lift your arms from handle to reach any of them. The external fuel filler cap is another inviting addition that eschews rider getting down from the scooter and raise the seats for fuel filling as most of the scooters come with under the seat fuel filler cap. The storage under the seat is pretty decent while you will have to squeeze a bit to fit a full-faced helmet. TVS has also provided a USB charging socket here.
How does it feel like to ride?
We ride the Ntorq 125 in TVS' tarmac test track that has two straights and a long right-hander. Start the engine, the Ntorq has fairly loud exhaust note typical of the sporty models. Having said that, it is not as raucous as that of true blue sports scooters.
Accelerate and don't expect a brisk move. The Ntorq takes its own time, just like others scooters, but after getting momentum, it goes really fast. You will reach 70 to 80kmph in a jiffy in the straight line. TVS claims a top speed of 95kmph while I have managed to touch 97kmph despite being a heavy rider. Some of my fellow journos even touched 100kmph which is way more than expected from a 125cc scooter. It also needs to be noted that the superior performance is achieved despite it weighing 116kg, which is significantly higher than its rivals.
Even at higher speeds, the Ntorq feels planted to the surface. There is no sign of wobbling even at 80kmph and NVH levels are tad low. The right turn is really wide and I'm not being an expert rider was slow in the initial runs. After a couple of laps, my confidence grew and I negotiated the curve at 70kmph in my last lap -- all thanks to the 100/80-12 sized front and 110/80-12 sized rear Remora from TVS Tyres, it claws on to the road.
There was also a Belgian wave test track adjacent to the main test track. The suspension geometry of Ntorq 125 is not too stiff or too light for the tarmac while it felt a bit stiff for the bumpy terrain. Ntorq also has short turning radius, making it best suited for daily city rides.
The bottom line
At an ex-showroom Delhi Rs 58,750, the TVS Ntorq is definitely a compelling case against its rivals. The design is sporty, the performance is peppy, the technology is spot on for younger audience and overall, the Ntorq 125 is a very well-rounded product that should appeal to a lot of buyers.
It's not a hard-core sports scooter; it is also not a run-of-the-mill scooter as well. It combines both the formulas and finds a sweet spot. For those planning to buy a scooter with some zing, the Ntorq 125 is certainly a prominent choice if not the only choice in the market.