2014 TVS Scooty Zest India first ride
The Scooty is a big brand name at TVS. In many ways it was synonymous with the girls' scooter as a generic name for a while. TVS does make two Scootys right now, but this scooter here is all new and TVS says it is aimed at young girls who are now demanding the world of their scooters. Priced at Rs 42,300 ex-showroom Delhi, the Scooty Zest 110 sits roughly Rs 3,000 below TVS' other scooters and is one of the most affordable 100/110cc class scooters on the market. TVS says it will sell 10,000 units in the first month itself and is very bullish about the new scooter. Let's find out more about the scooter then.
How new is it?
In an age where manufacturers use the word all-new to denote everything from new stickering to the addition of more numerologically appropriate vowels into perfectly good names, this is a relevant question. Okay, I'll admit that the extraa voweelss are a distinctly 'wanna be a star in Bollywood' phenomenon rather than automotive nomenclature. But the question's still a good one.
The Scooty Zest 110 is pretty new. It does use the same basic 109cc engine as the Wego and the Jupiter to be sure. But this engine sits in a light new frame that shares nothing with anything. Indeed, signs are that TVS has picked quite a few learnings with this frame that will probably migrate and raise the performance and economy in other products in time. The lightness of the frame allows it to sit pretty at just 97kg all told which is a terrific weight for an 8PS scooter. Light weight is the best kind of performance tuning because it brings both performance as well as economy.
Then of course, the styling is new, the proposition is new and of course, the price and position is new. So is it all-new? Technically no. But it comes pretty close.
Is it feminine in design?
I'm not convinced fully, to be honest. I think it looks terrific especially in black as well as white. It has that unbroken slope on the front apron that joins the surfaces at the top, under the handlebar fairing to the tip of the integrated front mudguard. This surface, of course, is clearly a throwback to the Scooty. But more importantly, for me, it connects the stubby, eye pleasing design directly to the sporty and flashy scooters that run riot all over South East Asia. They're terrific looking and I think the Zest 110 is too, though not in all its colours.
For the ladies, I think the low seat height (760mm), light weight, the easy to use centre stand and so forth are the features that matter. Just like I found with the Let's, these ostensibly ladies' scooters actually make for terrific, fast and enjoyable scooters and there's no reason to think that you have to be a girl to enjoy wringing a throttle connected to an automatic transmission.
It is girly? Somewhat. Should it deter you? Not at all!
Your tweets from the launch event suggested some interesting engineering...
...Yes. We were surprised to note two specific things. First, the front tyre uses a 100 profile while the rear is a 90 profile while both are 90 section tyres on 10 inch rims. Second, the TVS is the first two-wheeler I can remember in forever where the front brake - a 110mm drum - is smaller than the rear - a 130mm drum.
The front brake in the TVS Scooty Zest - a 110mm drum - is smaller than the rear - a 130mm drum
TVS explains both as engineering solutions to desirable chassis performance. The taller profile on the front tubeless tyre allows them to better control the chassis stance. It also makes the front tyre a smidgen heavier which has a benefit in allowing the telescopic forks to perform a bit better in ride terms.
The brakes similarly are an intriguing solution to a weight distribution trait of automatic scooters which have unit swingarms and underseat fuel tanks all of which put the rear wheel under greater load than the front. The 110mm drum is lighter and it allows TVS to bring the front-rear weight distribution to 40-60. Under maximum braking, the rear of the scooter still has so much weight on it that the brakes at the back still have an effective role to play in retardation. And as it turns out, TVS says the 130mm drum at the back produces excellent braking performance.
"A highly useful feature is a novel open glove box where the rider can keep her small artefacts." TVS' words not ours
TVS bills the Scooty Zest 110 as a compact scooter. In that segment - which has an admittedly nebulous definition right now - the Zest claims to have the most space between the seat's front and the handlebar. It also has a 19 litre space under the seat which TVS claims is the largest in the segment. TVS have also used LED lights for light weight and greater reliability. Finally, TVS appear very kicked with their small open cubby on the inside of the front apron.
Does the light weight and 109cc engine translate into sizzling scooter performance?
TVS claims a 0-60kmph time of 11.1 seconds which is pretty quick in the segment. TVS also claims 62kmpl which is respectable economy as well. On the move the scooter is a surprise. Acceleration to about 60kmph is simply startling and I am sure the CVT tuning work as well as the light weight contribute to the experience. Riding at the TVS track, the scooter felt really quick off the mark. Something I was not expecting. Obviously top speed is not what it is designed for and once you've hit about 75kmph, the scooter settles in and pulls to its top speed relatively more gently. TVS says the top speed is 84kmph (true speed, not indicated). Note however, that TVS' average test riders weight is higher than the usual weight of the target customers, which is young girls, so chances are the claims are lower than the results.
How does it handle and ride?
I really like it. TVS track has one challenging right hand corner that lasts forever and despite having ridden nothing other than 350kg motorcycles before the Zest 110, I felt no top heaviness or the usual signs of instability that appear when you move from a motorcycle to a scooter. This is a good sign. Once you get used to it, of course, the scooter is planted and stable and I think performance oriented women and enthusiastic men will be missing out if they do not give the 110 Zest a shot. It's quite fun to ride. Which is why I'm itching to hand this copy off and get back on it.
TVS products have always been well-engineered and I shouldn't be surprised. But a quick spin on the Zest 110 reveals a fun, light, fast and agile scooter that I think will be great fun to pilot for young girls, men with short inseams and men and women of all other descriptions alike. TVS has designed it for young women but I think you can (and should) safely ignore that. Because what you have here is a well-priced, nice looking scooter that goes down the road rather well. And I believe that is a gender-free proposition.
I'd replace the headlamp and fairing with a simple chrome handlebar with two small round headlamps,if I were buying the Zest
TVS has priced the scooter at Rs 42,300 ex-showroom Delhi and that's a good price for the package. I would suggest to a lot of men that you ignore the marketing messages about the gender of the scooter and just look at what it offers. I think this is a solid little scooter - it's light weight alone will give the heavier scooters - which are also usually more expensive - a good run for the money. If I were buying one, I'd take the headlamp and fairing off and pack it away in a box. I'd put in a simple chrome handlebar with two small round headlamps and it would look so great!