Aprilia SXR 160: First Ride Review
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Could this maxi-style scooter be the perfect alternative to the sporty SR 160?
Scooters: A contraption that started out as a low-cost alternative to cars, soon revolutionised the concept of transportation as we knew it. Today, this humble mode of transport has transformed into a versatile machine that can do a lot more than the regular grocery sprints.
And the breed of scooters that really takes the whole scooter thing to the next level are maxi-scooters. Spacious, feature-loaded and powerful enough to intimidate some motorcycles, even. The new Aprilia SXR 160 is just like that, or at least it seems that way.
- The 160cc engine is punchy even with the 11kg bulk over the SR160.
- The long seat is roomy enough with a pillion onboard.
- The butch-looking front-end is a headturner.
- Suspension is set up on the sportier side, which is not ideal for Indian roads.
- Lacks sufficient underseat storage.
- Floorboard space is still quite small.
- A bit too expensive.
- The LCD console is informative and comes with optional Bluetooth connectivity.
- The 160cc engine is a hoot to ride on the highways and city.
- LED headlight and DRLs look sharp.
The iconic three-piece headlamp unit, RS 660-inspired LED DRL with integrated indicators coupled with the massive, dark windshield give the SXR 160 a butch appearance. From the paint quality on the body to the anodised finish on the 12-inch rims, one glance at the scooter and you’ll be enticed by its appearance.
Like a true Italian product, there are some neat touches on the scooter like the flush-folding pillion footpegs and side stand that doesn’t stick out or hang from the underbody. The SXR 160 has excellent fit and finish just like its siblings.
Move over to the side and that's where the “Cross-Max'' bits come in. Unlike the maxi-scooters, this one gets a proper floorboard with flexi-foot pegs for highway riding. The seat is long and big enough for riders of all sizes.
The rear, however, is quite compact compared to the front end. Though the split LED tail lamps and indicators are sleek and blend well with the design, they lack visual appeal and leave you wishing for more.
Once on the saddle, the perception of being astride a big, bulky maxi-style scooter completely changes. Rather than “sitting in” the way you do ona traditional maxi-scooter, you sit on it like any other traditional scooter. And no, this isn’t down to its seat height, which at 770mm, is 10mm lower than the SR 160’s. In fact, you are sitting so tall that glancing at the speedometer requires you to take your eyes off the road completely. This is primarily down to the low handlebar and console.
The handlebar is slightly low and not as wide as one would like for long hours on the saddle. Adding to your woes are the small mirrors, which end up showing your arms more than the vehicles behind you.
Like on the SR 160, the short footboard didn’t leave any room for me to move my feet around. As for the flexi-footboard, the inclination is too aggressive, making it almost impossible for me to place my feet on it with riding boots on.
With a maxi-style scooter, you’d expect a comfortable seat. However, the SXR fails to impress on this front. The seat, though long and roomy enough to accommodate riders and pillions of all sizes, has firm cushioning, which, coupled with the stiff suspension setup will keep you from spending too much time in the saddle, or even thinking about it, for that matter.
Technology & Features
The LCD console on the SXR 160 is one of the best we’ve seen on scooters so far. Apart from the usual tell-tale information, the display shows data like RPM, mileage, average speed, range, real-time fuel efficiency, max speed recorded, engine oil temperature, external temperature and battery voltage. In fact, Aprilia will also be equipping the SXR 160 with bluetooth connectivity as an optional accessory.
The SXR also gets a lockable split glove box with a USB charger to charge your phone on the go. However, the plastic of the glovebox felt a bit flimsy, especially when compared to the overall fit and finish of the scooter.
The long seat and bulky appearance may give the impression that like a typical maxi-scooter, the SXR would score high on storage; however, it is quite the opposite. The underseat storage is big enough to fit just a half or quarter-face helmet. Instead, it gets a 7-litre fuel tank, an additional 1 litre over the SR 160.
It does miss out on a few essential features like a multi-function key to access the underseat storage or external fuel filling cap or even an engine kill switch, something we would have loved to see on a premium scooter like the SXR.
Engine & Performance
The 160cc, single-cylinder engine was a hoot on the SR and it remains fun to ride even on the SXR 160, despite the slight dip in torque and the additional 11kg bulk the scooter carries. The CVT is responsive and even with sudden throttle inputs, there’s no delay in power delivery.
Twist the throttle and the scooter surges ahead with the same urgency as the SR till 60kmph, after which power delivery tapers off slightly. After hitting 60kmph, the scooter takes some time to reach its 100kmph top speed. That said, even at 100kmph the engine doesn’t feel stressed at all and is clearly capable of taking the scooter to higher speeds.
Even in the city, the engine is responsive, ready to take you out of any sticky situation. As for the exhaust, yes, it retains that raspy note from the SR, which sometimes urges you to push the scooter even harder.
Ride & Handling
Like the SR 160, the SXR 160 is sprung a bit towards the firmer side. While the package is great on a smooth stretch of tarmac, it spells doom for your wrists and back on bad roads. While minor undulations won’t bother you much, hit any pothole, even at crawling speeds, and your wrists will bear the brunt. Even the rear suspension is on the firmer side, which, coupled with the firm seat, can result in jolts to your back if ridden enthusiastically on bad roads.
The upshot of this firm suspension is that it gives confidence when throwing the scooter through some corners. The beefy 120/70 12-inch MRF Zapper N tyres provide ample grip on the tarmac too. However, the stiff front suspension results can make the handlebar feel jittery over 90kmph, which can get unnerving at times.
Despite the bulky appearance, the SXR 160 is fairly easy to manage in city traffic. The 1365mm wheelbase, which is the same as the SR 160, makes it easy to maneuver the scooter through crawling traffic.
The 220mm disc brake, aided by single-channel ABS, works brilliantly, offering a good bite to shed speed quickly. The 140mm rear drum brake also has sufficient stopping power.
The SXR 160 is available in one variant only, the price of which shall be announced in the coming weeks. The scooter is available in 4 colours-- Red, White, Blue and Black.
For a scooter that will likely demand a price of over Rs 1.27 lakh (ex-showroom), the SXR 160 doesn’t really present a strong case for itself. In the case of the SR 160, its stiff suspension setup and lack of pillion comfort put off a lot of buyers. Aprilia had a chance to fix that with the SXR, but it seems that the Italian brand has missed the mark. While the SXR is a lot more practical and easier to live with than the SR, the difference isn’t enough to do justice to the maxi styling or the maxi pricing.
A customer looking for the comfort of a maxi-scooter could certainly opt for the Suzuki Burgman Street with its bluetooth-enabled console, which is priced at Rs 84,786 (ex-showroom Delhi), or wait for the Honda PCX 125 that’s likely to come next year. If you were looking at an Aprilia, then we’d much rather recommend the SR, which at least makes up for its lack of practicality and comfort with its outright sportiness.