Aprilia SXR 160 first ride review - India's modern maxi-scooter?
While most of the scooters that you see in India are limited to mundane commutes, back in the day there was this one offering which stood out from the lot like Macadamia nuts amongst groundnuts. This was the Kinetic Blaze, a truly one of a kind Italian scooter that India had ever seen which was far ahead of its time, for it looked like no other, had a better presence than the motorcycles of its time and came with a 165cc engine, making it the largest displacement scooter back then. All of that kinda justified the "Catch me If You Can" sticker on the tail.
The Aprilia is the company's flagship offering in the country
Almost after a decade and a half, another Italian two-wheeler brand Aprilia has ventured into this territory with their first-ever large displacement scooter for India, the SXR 160 which is the company's flagship offering. Based on the already proven SR platform, the SXR 160 aims at offering more in terms of comfort, practicality and features to attract a wider audience. But then can we call it India's modern maxi-scooter? Here's our first ride review.
If you are wondering whether the designed-in-Italy and made-in-Baramati Aprilia SXR 160 will grab attention on the Indian roads, the answer to that is - Definitely Yes! And it is not just because of the sporty shade of red or blue, both of which look equally impressive but also cause of that massive front that takes inspiration from Aprilia's premium RSV4 range, which can be seen from the shape of the large black windscreen, the lines flowing on the apron and also the sleek dual-LED headlamps.
Both the shades, Red and Blue look equally sporty and impressive on the Aprilia SXR 160. The other two colours that one can opt for are white and black, which do not stand out from the current crop of scooters. However, all shades get a premium paint finish.
The Aprilia SXR 160 gets a sportier front with the sleek RSV4-ish twin-LED headlight design.
The lower section of the scooter merges neatly with the front. While there is a lot going in the front, the side and the rear profiles look a tad understated in comparison. Perhaps more contours and layers on the side panels could have made it more in sync with that front.
Even though the wheels are smaller than the SR 160, they don't look out of place on the SXR 160. Also, the seat height of the SXR 160 is more accessible as compared to the SR whereas the handlebar is taller on this one.
Even the rear with its compact form looks a tad too simple for my liking. But saying that, there is no denying that the SXR160, looks much premium than most of the scooters in India. In addition to the first half, my other favourite has to be the sporty 5-spoke alloy wheels, finished in steel grey, which just add to the overall cool appeal. A lot of queries came in to ask if the wheels of the SXR 160 look much smaller in real like that of the Suzuki Burgman Street, which is not the case. The wheels along with the chunky 12-inch MRF tyres look just the right size on the SXR 160.
The side and the rear profiles look a tad understated when you compare it with the front.
Features and built quality
The Aprilia SXR 160 comes with an all-digital 5.7-inch LCD instrumentation, which is the largest LCD unit to be offered on a scooter. It has a neat and crisp display which shows the information on the engine oil temperature, external temperature, battery voltage, instantaneous mileage, average speed, ABS indicator along with Bluetooth connectivity which can be opted for with an optional accessory.
The all-digital LCD instrumentation on the SR 160 offers a ton of info on the distance to empty, battery voltage, instant fuel efficiency, engine oil temperature and trip readings apart from the other essentials. There's also an optional BT connectivity.
All these functions can be accessed with a mode button on the switchgear. Unlike the design, the switchgear quality does not feel sufficiently premium when compared to say the Bajaj Chetak EV or even the TVS Ntorq 125. Additionally, the panels gaps on some of the sections on the handle along with rough edges around the exhaust just don't go with the premiumness that the Aprilia brand is known for, especially when you consider the flagship positioning of the SXR 160 in the company's scooter range.
The section on the left can be used to store your phone which can be charged via USB while the space on the right can store your nicknacks.
That's the USB charging slot for the smartphone
In terms of practicality, the front apron has a provision to store your smartphone which can also be charged via USB along with space to keep your nicknacks. The under-seat storage is decent to hold a medium-sized helmet.
The under-seat storage of the SXR 160 is decent to accommodate a medium-sized helmet
Powering the Aprilia SXR 160 is the same single-cylinder air-cooled unit from the SR 160, wherein the 160cc engine churns 11PS of power and 11Nm of torque. The state of tune has been left unchanged except that the peak power and torque output numbers come in at a lower rpm.
Aprilia India has retained the state of tune on the SXR 160 wherein the power and torque numbers are identical to the SR 160
In comparison to the SR, the SXR is heavier by 7kg which is felt when you start from a standstill. While the SR has a more eager response, the SXR feels more tamed and relaxed. And rightly so as the SXR is not primarily aimed at the college-going enthusiasts who'd be constantly hot on the throttle.
Riding the SXR 160 in the city is comforting as the engine offers tractable performance at lower speeds. I also liked how the engine climbs on speeds effortlessly even while riding on hilly sections sans any vibrations. The motor comfortably slotted itself in the 50-55kmph range while commuting in the city and was equally at ease at a higher speed of up to 80kmph. With me on board, we also rode with a pillion in the city and on the highways, and in both the scenarios, the SXR 160 felt at complete ease.
Ride and handling
For a scooter to be called maxi-scooter, its comfort on longer journeys plays an important role. Accommodating someone of my dimensions with a height of 6'1 is always a challenge for any scooter, and the SXR 160 is no exception there. While the relaxed handlebar position feels better than the almost straight unit of the SR, the smaller footboard area got completely occupied by my size 12 feet, with barely any area to move around.
The suspension setup and the underpinning is identical except that the tuning has been altered with comfort in focus
Also, unlike the Burgman Street where one can stretch the legs with a proper section to position the feet, the one on the SXR 160 doesn't have that layout, which could be tiring on longer journeys. The other issue that I had was that of my knees brushing with the front apron, especially during braking, for which I had to constantly adjust my seating position. The seats, on the other hand, felt nice and spacious with sufficient cushioning for both the rider and the pillion. For the short time window that we have with the SXR 160, the seats felt reasonably comfortable.
The SXR 160 isn't as easy to flick as the SR due to the tweaked rake angle and also the heft especially at the front but even then the scooter is quite easy to manoeuvre around.
Something that the SR 160 was infamous for was its stiff handling, which did make it a sporty scooter but also made equally painful on bad roads. Aprilia had addressed that on the SXR 160. While the underpinning and the suspension setup remains unchanged as compared to the SR, it has been tuned to offer a more comforting ride over uneven undulations and broken surfaces, making it more pliant than the SR. This can be felt when you are riding over speed breakers and also chance upon potholes, wherein the suspension setup does its best to iron out the differences.
The MRF Zapper N tyres offer enough grip to maintain composure around corners like these. The single-channel ABS offer a nice progressive feel. Also, check out how we managed to get our Via Terra tail bag on the pillion seat by strapping the hooks under the panels, which remained in that position even over speedbreakers and broken roads.
The MRF Zapper N tyres offer sufficient grip on the tarmac, even at higher speeds with a pillion on board, without affecting the composure. Obviously, the SXR is not as easy to flick around corners as the SR but at the same time, it does not feel much behind the SR. Braking duties are taken care of by single-channel ABS with a disc at the front and drum at the rear offering a progressive feel.
Clearly, the Aprilia SXR 160 is not a maxi-scooter for it does not offer that level of comfort and convenience. However, the SXR 160 will carve a niche for itself primarily because of the way it looks which will be the scooter's biggest selling point in the country. That paired with an impressive performance should make this maxi styled scooter attain the same level of success as the SR series.
Aprilia India, on the other hand, is leaving no stone unturned for its upcoming offerings. The Italian two-wheeler manufacturer has already confirmed its plans of network expansion with 350 dealerships by end of 2021 and then will add 100 more to reach 450 by the end of 2022. This is believed to be in line with the company's aim of achieving 1.5 to 2 lakh annual sales from both Aprilia and Vespa range.