Benelli Imperiale 400: 5 things to know10th Aug 2018 6:00 am
The Imperiale 400 is the company’s most India-relevant bike; to launch end of 2019.
Benelli’s upcoming Imperiale was first showcased at EICMA 2017 and it drew a lot of attention, especially from the Indian market. Here are five things to know about this unashamedly retro motorcycle:
India launch in 2019
Benelli has confirmed that it will launch not one but two Imperiale variants in India by the end of 2019. The first one will be the Imperiale 400 and the second, a bigger and previously undisclosed Imperiale 530. We have details on the 400, but that for the 530 remains unknown at the moment. The company also revealed that some more work is going into the Imperiale and that it will be slightly different from the version shown at EICMA.
First retro offering
The Imperiale 400 is said to reinterpret a historic model of the company that was produced in the 1950s. Benelli says that the bike is an 'authentic and pure bike, which in its simplicity retains its distinct personality'. This is the manufacturer’s first proper retro offering and it falls under the Heritage category of the brand. It must not be mistaken for the ‘Modern Classic’ range, which is where the Leoncino sits, as the Imperiale is a proper old- school machine.
Engine and gearbox
Powering the Imperiale 400 is a 373.5cc, air-cooled, SOHC, single-cylinder engine that produces 19.7hp at 5,500rpm and 28Nm of torque at 3,500rpm. The torque figure is identical to the Classic 350 and Bullet 350. This motor is fuel injected (with a Delphi ECU) and is paired to a five-speed transmission. Other than the fuel injection system, the drivetrain appears to be old school. We believe the nature and exhaust note could be similar to the 350cc Royal Enfields', thanks to the long-stroke motor and its inherent slow-revving character.
First true Royal Enfield rival
The Imperiale 400 is styled to look like a bike straight from the 1950s, which is why there's extensive use of chrome throughout, similar to the Enfields. Both mudguards, mirrors, engine casings, spoke wheels and even the instrument pods are covered in chrome. Like the Enfields, the bike has a simple double-cradle frame and a lengthy exhaust muffler. The bike also has a rounded, retro tank and two separate seats, with the front one being sprung.
As with all the new Benellis, its dry weight (200kg) might pose a challenge to performance, especially considering its power ratings. For example, the Royal Enfield Bullet 350 weighs 183kg (kerb), while the Classic 350 weighs 192kg, and both produce 1hp more than the Imperiale.
Pricing will be a challenge for the brand as the Imperiale 400 is likely to be brought in as a CKD. This will make it hard to match the locally built Royal Enfield 350s that this motorcycle is clearly benchmarked against. For reference, the Classic 350 is priced at Rs 1.45 lakh and the Bullet 350 is priced at Rs 1.15 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). To take on the Royal Enfield Classic 500, Benelli will be launching the Imperiale 530 by end of 2019 as well. We believe that both the models will be positioned at a fair premium over the respective Royal Enfields, which will be justified considering the higher engine capacities on offer.
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