TVS iQube Electric: First Ride Review
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The iQube is TVS' first major step into the electric space. But, is it good enough to sway the masses to make the switch?
TVS made its intentions pretty clear way back in 2008 when it showcased the Scooty Teenz Electric scooter. Going green was part of the agenda. Further cementing this idea was the Qube hybrid concept unveiled at the 2012 Auto Expo and the radical and sporty-looking Creon revealed in 2018. The latter being the most obvious future prospect. While everyone expected TVS to bring in the Creon, the brand had other plans.
Market research led the Hosur-based manufacturer to believe it needed a commuter-centric scooter, so targeting a niche market wasn’t an option. It required an e-scooter that would be more acceptable to the masses in terms of design with enough performance for everyday use. The solution comes in the form of the iQube. Yes, electric, feature-packed and affordable (at least compared to its rivals), but is it convincing enough for most people to make the switch from petrol to electric?
- Its hub motor ensures power delivery right from the get go till it peaks out at 80kmph.
- Features Q-park, which offers forward and backward motion assistance.
- Well-balanced suspension setup socks in bumps really well.
- Has an annoying startup tune, which sounds like a certain water purifier.
- The raised floorboard means your legs could foul with the handlebar while making tight U-turns.
- Doesn’t support fast charging, yet.
- Gets a flip key with an integrated torch.
- Full-colour TFT display comes with a multitude of features.
- 21 litres of underseat storage.
Right, does it look any good? Looks can be subjective, however, in our eyes, the iQube is a little too plain Jane. There’s nothing that’ll spark interest aside from the all-white paint scheme and LED lights. On the bright side, so to speak, the simplicity of the EV will help it blend with the current crop of family-centric ICE-powered scooters. It’s easy to think the scooter has the essence of the Jupiter Grande, and to some extent, it does thanks to a couple of shared components. But that’s all there is. The iQube, in fact, draws its design inspiration from the hybrid 'Qube' concept that was originally showcased at the 2012 Auto Expo in India. Hence, the squarish appearance.
What really stood out for us is the left-hand side swingarm cover, which features an ‘Electric’ logo that lights up when you switch on the scooter. What isn’t as appetizing is the square-shaped rearview mirror. Although functional, it looks a couple of decades old.
Ok, so it looks like a conventional scooter, but is it equally comfortable? The answer is a big yes. You sit upright, and the seat is wide enough to support and cushion your bottom. I’d say the seat cushioning is spot on and roomy enough for both the rider and the pillion. Also, at 770mm (5mm more than the Jupiter), it’s fairly accessible for shorter riders too.
The only glitch is the scooter’s slightly raised floorboard, which packs one of the three batteries, and the lower set handlebar. Essentially, tall riders end up sitting in a knees-up position and may find their legs fouling with the handlebar while turning lock to lock. I’m 5.10” and faced the same issue. The floorboard, on the other hand, has enough space even if you have elephant-sized feet.
Technology & Features:
The most recognisable aspect of the iQube is its all-LED lighting setup and distinct LED DRL. Step closer and you will notice a full-colour TFT screen that packs a bunch of features. You can read all about it here.
This smart e-scooter requires timely updates just like your PC to function efficiently, hence, the need for subscriptions packs. TVS' subscription plan includes data connectivity, OTA updates, navigation, and access to the charging infrastructure. All of which is free for the first year. Post that, the brand will levy a monthly/yearly subscription fee, the cost of which is currently unknown. We’ll be sure to update you as soon as it’s revealed.
The display is bright enough to give you crystal clear readings even in broad daylight. It features a sensor, which switches between day and night mode automatically depending on the lighting conditions. The user interface is pretty simple and straightforward. Even an average Joe could find his way around in a matter of minutes.
Yes, it isn’t as fancy as say... the Ather 450, however, TVS says it may offer a touchscreen in the near future based on demand. Another neat touch is the scooter’s car-type flip key with an integrated torch, which could prove handy while searching for the key slot at night.
Remember the reverse parking feature on the Ather 450 and the Bajaj Chetak? Well, the iQube has it too. Here, it’s called ‘Q-park Assist’ and has two modes - reverse to forward. Pull the rear brake and hold the mode button for about three seconds to activate this feature. A single push on the button toggles between the two modes. The forward function is capped at 6kmph while backward is limited to 3kmph. It’s quite useful in tight parking spaces or inclines.
The scooter can be charged via TVS’ home charger, which comes free, (for the time being) or via a conventional 3-pin, 5amp socket. The company will eventually start charging its customers for the home charger. When it does, be prepared to fork out around Rs 7,000 plus installation charges.
Interestingly, the home charger can only be activated using an RFID id card. In other words, if someone else were to try and use your home charger, they wouldn’t be able to. Customers are required to tap the RFID id card on the front panel to enable the flow of electricity.
A major drawback of this system is the charging cable. The current connecting cable can easily be disconnected or stolen. However, as a precautionary measure, the smartphone app notifies users in case of any charging interruptions. TVS says it will rectify this issue soon.
Other notable features include a USB charging port placed under the seat and hazard lights for safety.
Engine & Performance:
Getting the iQube started isn’t any different from an ICE-powered scooter. Pull either of the brake levers, thumb the ‘Mode’ button, and the scooter comes to life. Not without playing the Aquaguard purifier sound though, which notifies the rider the scooter is ready to go. Yes, we have voiced our concerns about the tacky tune and TVS is looking into it.
We had the liberty to test the scooter across two sessions (about 15 mins each) on TVS’ test track. The circuit is fairly simple, two arrow straight stretches connected by a long right and a small left hander. As you’d expect, we belted it throughout, not the 'ideal’ way to test efficiency. The table below should give you an idea of how hard we were on the scooter. Most people, on the contrary, could expect a lot more in city conditions.
The iQube starts off in Eco mode, which offers a claimed range of 75km per charge and a restricted top speed of 50kmph. Interesting thing is, unlike other e-scooters we’ve ridden, which feel lethargic in Eco, the iQube really doesn’t. It bolts from a dead stop to about 40kmph in a claimed 4.2 seconds with power tapering off only when you reach about 48kmph. Put differently, it feels just as lively in Eco as it would in Sport mode. Switch to Sport mode by pushing on the mode button and the scooter gets an extra boost of power almost instantly. The motor gets the green signal to unleash all 3kW of continuous power, which catapults the iQube to a top speed of 78kmph.
We would like to point out that the speed did fluctuate between 75kmph and 80kmph among the three scooters we rode. Our Vbox tests read out a top speed of 77.79kmph, which is close to the claimed top speed. Also, switching to Sport drops the range to 55kmph -- 35km if you’re frivolous with the throttle. Something we did as second nature. In the real world though, with speed restrictions and traffic, you could easily extract more than 65km per charge in Sport.
In all honesty, we had serious doubts about the Bosch hub-mounted motor, thanks to having ridden our fair share of Chinese electric scooters with the same sort of setup. But boy were we wrong! TVS decided to opt for a hub motor so as to not lose out on performance. You see, the addition of any mechanical linkages to power the rear wheel results in transfer loss. Something that TVS says didn’t sit well with the brand's ideology. It’s always been a performance-driven company after all.
The use of a hub motor allows the iQube to dish out 140Nm (claimed) of peak torque at the rear wheel! The result is a rush of power right from the get go to 78-80kmph where it tops out in Sport mode. An addictive feeling to say the least! You can’t help but whack open the throttle the moment you see an open road. To top it all, there’s no mechanical noise whatsoever. Not even the typical whine of an electric motor.
While a couple of electric scooters offer a sudden burst of power, which lasts a couple of seconds at the most, the iQube goes on for an entire minute. To put things into perspective, we kept the throttle pinned through the entirety of the track and the motor still had more to offer. Safe to say, quick cheeky overtakes are the least of your concerns. You also have small electric top ups to the battery from the scooter’s regenerative braking system as soon as you roll off the throttle.
If you are low on charge, the iQube goes into limp mode (not the exact terminology TVS uses, but you get my point) for the last 10 per cent of battery life. TVS officials said performance in Eco takes a minor, almost negligible hit. So you can still cruise at around 40kmph to reach your desired destination. Bold, but we’ll be sure to verify this claim in our road test review.
It takes about 4 hours to charge from 0-80 per cent and 5 hours for a full charge via the home charger. And for owners’ ease of mind, TVS is offering 3 years or 30,000km of battery warranty as standard.
Ride & Handling:
With performance comes risks, and hence, the need for a safety net. Thankfully, the iQube doesn’t disappoint in this area either. It uses a 220mm disc up front and a 130mm drum at the rear paired with CBS. Slam on the brakes from 60kmph and the scooter comes to a dead stop in 19.86m. The Ather 450 for reference takes an additional 2.64 metres to do the same. The only chink in its armour is feedback through the levers. The iQube’s brakes offer ample bite and progression but lack feel.
How’s it to ride? Pretty good actually. The three battery packs are centrally positioned to bring down the center of gravity. One under the floorboard and two ahead of the underseat storage. And the result is a scooter that’s rock steady on straights and poised in corners.
The iQube’s suspension setup is well balanced. It soaks in bumps really well and remains stable even in mid-corner bumps. So-much-so that you could lean the scooter and scrape the floorboard. Not that we’d recommend you to do so.
On top of that, the iQube’s (118kg) 10kg weight disadvantage over the TVS Jupiter disappears as soon as you get on the scooter. It feels light on its feet and changes directions rather quickly. All while offering ample grip through its 12-inch TVS Conta 550 tyres. Apart from better weight distribution, what helps the iQube’s case is its wheelbase, which is longer than that of the Jupiter -- 1,300mm compared to 1,275mm. It keeps it stable even when leaned over. A ground clearance of 157mm (7mm more than the Jupiter) should make it easy enough to glide over speed breakers and potholes.
All said and done, there is a small problem with the hub motor assembly. You see, the entire setup needs to be decoupled from under the seat in case of a tyre replacement. And, getting to the coupler requires one to remove the under-seat panel, which is time consuming and tricky.
Looks can be deceiving. The iQube may not be the prettiest of the lot, but it delivers on various other aspects, and how! There’s plenty of juice to get you from A to B and back before it runs out, enough power to leave IC-powered rivals eating dust, and just the right features for modern day. Not to mention it handles REALLY well. So if you’re looking for a family-oriented scooter, with some zest, the TVS iQube for Rs 1.15 lakh (on-road Bengaluru) could very well be the perfect electric alternative.