Aprilia and scooters. If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, chances are, you would have never strung together the words 'Aprilia' and 'scooter' in sentence. Aprilia is usually followed up with RSV4, Tuono or Dorsoduro. And, even if you thought something more smaller and more relevant for India, the RS4 range would have jumped to mind. However, the unveiling of the Aprilia SR 150 scooter at the 2016 Auto Expo, Piaggio, Aprilia’s parent company, showed that it had some very interesting plans. And crucially, the company seemed ready to adapt for India.
Firstly, while the SR 150 isn’t a grounds-up product, it has certainly been tailored for India. The engine, for instance, in other markets is a 124cc unit. Piaggio manufactures a 125cc scooter engine in India, but decided to go for the 150cc engine that is used on the Vespa VXL and SXL. Also, in international markets, the scooter range is dubbed SR Motard. However, Piaggio dropped 'Motard' from the India-spec bike's name, as it felt that most people wouldn’t know the meaning.
Even at the Auto Expo we had indications that the SR 150 would be priced below the Vespa 150 range. However, at Rs 65,000 (ex-showroom), the SR 150 has come in well below previous estimates and is nearly Rs 30,000 cheaper than the Vespa 150! Piaggio India maintains that the Vespa range will remain unaffected and will continue to hold its premium positioning. The metal, monocoque-body scooter is also said to be more expensive to make. In comparison, the SR 150 uses an underbone chassis and plastic panels.
Piaggio officials say that the Aprilia brand is focused at a very different target audience compared to the Vespa customer. In many ways. Honda’s Dio could be considered the forbearer of the SR150. Over the years, the Dio’s potential was hobbled with updates that just had it chugging along. Aprilia has jumped at this opportunity, and has taken a very serious crack at the scooter market. Its larger 14-inch wheels and chunky tyres give it a very sporty appeal. The 150cc engine should give it the punch to deliver on the look too. The price tag ensures that Piaggio can tap into the younger audience looking for a cool and sporty commuter.
Piaggio is expecting to clock greater numbers with Aprilia, than it has with the Vespa line-up. However, at first, the potential of the SR 150 will be capped by its reach. Piaggio’s dealership network, although 100 strong, is much smaller than the main players. Nonetheless, given the segment that Vespa has been catering to, the Aprilia SR 150 should be able to cater to a large chunk of the target market through these channels.
While, for most of us, the vision of owning an RSV4 or Tuono will stretch into the indistinct and distant future, the possibility of owning an Aprilia is very real. Practical, exciting and affordable, this Italian has added a whole new flavour to the booming scooter market. The Aprilia SR 150 goes on sale in the last week of August.