Hero Destini 125: Road Test Review
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The Hero Destini 125 is the least expensive 125cc scooter you can buy in the country. So does it provide a better value proposition over the more popular 110cc scooters?
- Scooter Tested: Hero Destini 125 VX
- Price: Rs 57,500 (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Hero has finally entered the 125cc scooter market with a slightly different proposition, affordability. Not only is the Destiny the least expensive 125cc scooter in the Indian market, it is a measly Rs 400 rupees more expensive than the bestselling 110cc scooter, the Activa 5G. Question is, does this affordability come at a price? And what are the advantages of buying a Destini over a 110cc scooter, now that we aren’t talking about paying a premium anymore?
Hero has played it very safe when it comes to the overall looks of the Destini. From the front, it looks a lot like the Activa 125, with a similar indicator setup. You get a fat chrome insert towards the bottom which does help it look a bit classy. As you move to the side you realise that the Destini looks long. The wheelbase, at 1245mm, is longer than the Activa 5G and opens up a lot of space on the floorboard. What grabs attention though is the tail section. Unlike other scooters where the tail does not extend too much behind the seat, the Destini's taillamps go a long way beyond the rear wheel, which does look a bit awkward.
This long tail section is partly because the cladding around the external fuel filler cap takes up a lot of space, and the design of the tail lamps themselves. Taking inspiration from the Duet, the entire rear section comprises of the tail lamp, extending all the way up to the ends of the grab rails. There is a nice scale pattern towards the side of the seat as well which gives the scooter a bit of jazz from the side.
While the tail, black alloy wheels and body-coloured mirrors do look fairly striking, the overall design of the scooter is a little too generic and fails to hold your attention for too long. Also, because Hero is playing the affordability card, you do not get LED lights anywhere and there are no disc brakes on option either.
Features and ergonomics
Now, because the Destini is the least expensive 125, you would expect it to miss out on some features. But that's not entirely true. The biggest omission for the Destini is a front disc brake and a 12-inch wheel. It gets drum brakes at both ends with an integrated braking system. This system automatically applies a bit of the front brake when you use the rear for better and safer braking.
Also, the Destini comes with Hero's i3s auto start-stop feature which kills the engine after 5 seconds of coming to a stop. This is aimed at saving fuel at traffic lights and traffic jams. The process of restarting the scooter, though, isn't as smooth as we’ve seen on Hero motorcycles, where simply engaging the clutch again starts the engine. For the Destini, you have to hold either of the brakes and slightly open the throttle to start the engine. While this system works well most times, there is always a chance of opening the throttle a bit too much and flooding the carb. And if the i3S fails to restart the scooter, then you have to wait for a couple of seconds before you can try again, which can be quite painful if you have traffic behind you. If you want, though, this system can be turned off using the switch on the left.
Another highlight of the Destini is the combination lock. The boot, external fuel filler cap, handle lock and the ignition are all controlled from a single place, making it very convenient for the rider. Adding to the convenience is a boot light and a USB charger inside the boot. But the boot itself isn't too big at 17 litres and can only hold smaller bags. There is a hook on the front apron and a height-adjustable clamp below the seat to place larger luggage. With the spacious floorboard, this becomes rather practical.
The instrument cluster is fairly basic. It gets an analogue speedometer and a digital display for fuel level, odometer, trip meter and service reminder. The cluster also gets the standard set of warning lights plus one for the i3s tech and a side stand indicator. Switchgear is fairly standard too, and you get a pass-flash switch integrated in the high-beam toggle.
Moving on to the ergonomics, the Destini gets a fairly comfortable seat height. I am 5 feet 7 inches tall, and was able to get my feet on the ground comfortably. But the handlebars are placed low, which might be appreciated by shorter riders but causes shoulder fatigue on longer rides for anyone who’s average or above average height. Even the floorboard is slightly taller, which makes for a knees-up riding position which can car strain in commutes. The headlight too is an AC unit and get brighter with throttle input. Hence, when you roll off the throttle at night, the illumination reduces significantly and feels a bit inadequate.
Engine and performance
The Hero Destini gets a 124.6cc engine which comes mated to a variomatic CVT. The 8.7PS of power from the engine is on par with the Access but falls short of sporty scooters like the TVS NTorq and the Aprilia SR 125. This is also evident in the power delivery. While the Destini isn't as punchy as the TVS NTorq (the segment benchmark), it still packs enough punch for the daily grind. In fact, a peek at the tested performance figures will show you that the Destini is quite sprightly. The 0-60kmph acceleration time of 9.27seconds almost matches the Access’. Even when it comes to acceleration on the go, the Destini gets from 20-50kmph in 4.61 seconds, again on par with the Access. The motor feels responsive throughout the range and even at speeds over 60kmph, opening the throttle results in swift acceleration which makes overtakes easy.
But when it comes to the motor refinement, it does feel a bit gruff, especially when compared to the Activa or the Access. This comes into play more while accelerating for overtakes. Also, the CVT engagement isn't as smooth as other scooters. After rolling off the throttle, there is a slight lag between the throttle input and power delivery. This becomes particularly irritating in stop-go traffic and making u-turns.
With the i3S system on, the Destini managed to return 48.36kmpl inside the city and 47.8kmpl on the highway. These figures are on par with the segment in the city, but a bit lacking when it comes to the highway.
Overall, the Hero Destini has adequate power for all your chores inside the city. Even riding two up, the Destini's 10.2 Nm of torque doesn't let it feel bogged down and packs enough grunt to pull comfortably. On the highways, the motor starts to feel a bit stressed from 60kmph onwards and hence the highway efficiency is the lowest of the 125cc scooters we have tested.
Ride and handling
The seat and suspension of the Hero Destini are set up on the firmer side. This has been done to favour its load carrying nature. If you are riding with some luggage or a pillion, the ride quality will feel fairly comfortable and composed. Even over bumps and potholes, the Destini remains comfortable and absorbs the harshness well. But if you are riding alone, the setup will feel a bit stiff. Surface changes and speed breakers are felt and the rebound from the suspension too is a bit harsh. Ideally, we would've liked the Destini to offer a plusher ride.
Complementing the commuter-like ergonomics is the handling of the Destini. It feels quite light on its feet which makes it easy to cut through traffic. At higher speeds though, especially on the highways, the 90/100 section 10-inch tyres do leave a bit to be desired in terms of stability. Similarly, even on twisty roads, the Destini feels a little too quick to turn and doesn't inspire confidence like the NTorq or the Aprilia SR 125. But again, it's not meant to do that.
Hero’s focus with the Destini is quite clear: It's not targeting the present set of 125cc scooters but the 110s. This is not only evident in the pricing but in the way it rides and handles as well. The Destini proves very capable inside the city, especially when it comes to riding with a pillion and cutting through traffic. These advantages become more evident when you compare it to a 110cc scooter. But when it comes to highway riding, the other 125cc scooters offer better stability and a more refined motor.
Overall, at the Destini’s price point, the 110cc scooters offer better practicality inside the city with better storage, more features, and are more comfortable as well. The reason to pick the Destini over the 110’s is its impressive performance and its ability to carry load or a pillion inside the city with ease.