Scooters have really taken off in India in the last few years. Not too long ago the obituary of the scooter had been written. Some manufacturers like Bajaj stopped making them completely while others like Honda decided to go the gearless way. That paid off as gearless scooters came with a lot of convenience and the city commutes did get a lot less cumbersome. And since they were gearless, they were easy to ride and that attracted many first timers especially girls and women to try them out. They were light therefore were easy to handle. But strangely almost all scooter makers in India shied away from making bigger capacity scooters simply because that would take the cost up and mileage down. Finally,it took an Italian company Vespa to launch a 150 cc scooter in the market. But what was still lacking was a design that stood out in the crowd. In came the another set of wheels from the same brand, the Aprilia SR 150, which checked that box too.
This is a design that truly stands out. A moto scooter is sort of unheard of in India. The indicators are housed in the handlebar unit and the head lights find a place under the handle bar in the main body frame. Both look unique and help the SR 150 to fit in the moto scooter category.The pillion foot pegs are nicely designed and the Italian design flair is very much visible here. The meter console is simple and analog, something which has helped keep the cost down. The paint scheme is a winner as the scooter looks attractive in both white/black and red/black combinations. The Italian flag colours also add their own charm. The space between the seat and the handle bar is a bit narrow and might get difficult to fit bigger objects in there. Under seat storage space is good but there’s no boot light. Overall this is a scooter that manages to turn heads and be ready for a question or 2 from fellow riders on the roads when you stop at traffic signals.
154 cc 11.4 bhp and 11.5 Nm of torque are figures you rarely see on scooters in India. That just means one thing. This is a scooter that is peppy to drive, has very good pick up and responds the way you want it to. Takes you back to the good old days of Kinetic Blaze. It’s a 6-liter fuel tank, big according to standards set by other scooters. But if you’re thinking that means longer gaps between visits to the fuel stations you may be wrong as the fuel efficiency here would rarely go beyond 40 kmpl. Also the fuel tank is a bit of a letdown. It’s under the seat, cannot be opened at the flip of a key and the entry itself is so narrow that the fuel nozzle barely fits in there.
Some manufacturers like Bajaj stopped making them completely while others like Honda decided to go the gearless way.
What you get on the Aprilia SR 150 are big 14 inch tubeless tyres. Scooters in India do not go beyond 12 or 13 inches so this makes a lot of difference. The ride is supremely buoyant and handling can be rated amongst the very best. This is one two-wheeler that you ride more like a motorbike and less like a scooter. That is the amount of confidence the Aprilia SR 150 gives you. There are many things possible here unlike on most other scooters and that include fast swift pickups, fast overtaking maneuvers as well as hard braking (owing to well performing disc brakes). The seat is a bit on the stiffer side and because it isn’t really flat but slants towards to handlebar, long rides might get a little uncomfortable.
The ride quality is a bit on the stiffer side. The good roads are a joy to ride on but tackling bad patches or bumps does give you a hit. It’s a sort of ride that can be a bit cushier. But what does help is a high ground clearance again better than other scooters. The speed breakers do not trouble as much and because of a good powerful engine the scooter manages to counter the breakers or even the rumble strips easily.
The sport scooter or moto scooter segment has seen a few attempts before, Honda Dio being the most notable of them all. But that was more about design than functionality as the capacity didn’t go beyond 110 cc. But here a with a 150 cc engine the Aprilia is not misleading. It delivers what it promises both in terms of looks and performance. And do not forget the very attractive price tag of 67,000 rupees, ex-showroom.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars