AUTO EXPO 2018
This year’s Auto Expo was a relatively milder event in terms of headlines being made on the motorcycling front – although it still gave us a lot to look forward to. With concepts and electric alternatives almost evenly matching new launches in existing segments, the two-wheeler market’s trajectory was clearly implied.
1. Hero XPulse 200
Hero’s highly-anticipated on/off-road motorcycle made its Indian debut at the 2018 Auto Expo. While it will only be launched in the first quarter of 2019, the XPulse was showcased in near-production form and is expected to make a mark in the budding adventure motorcycle segment in India – something the now-defunct Impulse made strides towards previously. Hero will also launch a road-biased variant of the XPulse (tagged the 200T) which will feature alloy wheels and road-spec tyres.
Also read: 2019 Hero Xpulse 200, Xpulse 200T spotted testing in India
2. BMW G 310 R/GS
The made-in-India BMW motorcycles played showstoppers at the Auto Expo – and rightly so, given just how excited the Indian audience has been at the prospect of relatively affordable motorcycles flaunting the BMW badge. While the naked, street-focused G 310 R was on display at the previous edition of the Expo as well, the GS adventure-tourer painted a pretty picture with its styling resembling that of bigger, proven GS models from the BMW family. However, the premium price tags of Rs 2.99 lakh (R) and Rs 3.49 lakh (GS; ex-showroom), announced in July, did fizzle out the hype a bit. Read our review here.
3. Aprilia Tuono 150/RS 150
Aprilia took the wraps off two surprise entries at the Auto Expo, the Tuono 150 and RS 150. Inspired by and looking rather like scaled-down versions of the revered Tuono and RSV4 duo, the 150cc versions raised eyebrows for being promisingly styled and deliciously kitted-out as well. Both motorcycles feature a perimeter frame suspended on an upside-down fork and a monoshock. The liquid-cooled, fuel-injected motor produces 18hp and 14Nm of torque and while that’s exciting enough, Aprilia later went on to say the duo may only make it to Indian showrooms by 2020.
2018 saw quite a few launches ranging from manufacturers like Ducati to the return of the hotly anticipated Jawa brand. Here is a look at the most important launches:
1. Royal Enfield 650 twins
Royal Enfield’s headline act this year was the launch of its new twin-cylinder motorcycles, the Interceptor and the Continental GT 650. Not only did the 47hp, 650cc duo grab the Indian motorcyclists’ attention based on its healthy credentials, they sealed the deal with their aggressive price tags – Rs 2.50 lakh (Interceptor) and Rs 2.65 lakh (Continental GT; ex-showroom). These motorcycles have impressed in terms of exciting real-world performance, refinement levels and undoubtedly, as overall value-for-money propositions. Read our review of the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650.
2. Jawa Motorcycles
Iconic Czech brand Jawa was given a befitting revival in India with its invaluable contribution to the retro motorcycle movement. The launch of the Jawa and the Forty Two, its subtly-modernised sibling, created a shockwave, given that it’s the first full-fledged and direct rival to the hot-selling singles from Royal Enfield. While the Jawa bikes are yet to hit the road, they look armed to take on the segment (even just going by the specification sheet) thanks to a 27hp, 293cc motor and an overall balanced configuration. Prices start at Rs 1.55 lakh for the Forty Two and Rs 1.64 lakh for the chrome-laden Jawa. A bobber-styled model called the Perak will join the fleet in a few months with an announced price of Rs 1.89 lakh (ex-showroom). Read our review of the Jawa and Jawa Forty-Two here.
3. Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0
The R15 has been every college-going lad’s fantasy since it was first launched a decade ago; and not without reason. Yamaha’s affordable, full-faired, pint-sized ‘R1 for the masses’ impressed with its ravishing styling and encouraging performance, and all of that has only gotten better with the third-generation model. It’s undoubtedly the best-looking R15 ever and is now significantly revised in just about every crucial aspect. Currently, it has no direct competition and its price of Rs 1.27 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) offers a fair amount of excitement and value to those with superbike ambitions. Read our review here.
4. Suzuki GSX-S750
The idea of a big bike for a not-so-big price tag has forever been a tantalising one and Suzuki decided to play to the gallery with its hard-to-resist GSX-S750 naked streetfighter. The S750 is, simply put, an immensely potent motorcycle capable of high speeds and great handling, albeit in an everyday-friendly format. The GSX-S750, priced at Rs 7.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), features an in-line four-cylinder motor which produces 114hp and features a three-level traction control system as well. What that translates to is a motorcycle with thrilling performance at a price point that’s deliciously accessible. Read our review here.
1. Suzuki Hayabusa
A modern-day legend and perhaps one of the most significant superbikes of our time is the Suzuki Hayabusa, which first came to life in 1999. Nineteen years later, Suzuki has decided to pull the plug on the once ‘fastest motorcycle in the world’. The Hayabusa has only been thoroughly revamped once, in 2008, which saw its displacement going up from 1299cc to 1340cc, although its hotly-debated design language has remained largely unchanged. With the new motor reaching the end of its lifespan, not being Euro IV compliant, Suzuki is currently developing an all-new Hayabusa it is likely to unleash upon the world in 2019, a year in which it commemorates two decades of its hallowed hyper motorcycle. The Hayabusa will remain on sale in India for at least another year, however, so take this as your last chance to own perhaps the most aerodynamic piece of motorcycling history.
1. Ather Energy
Bengaluru-based Ather Energy exceeded our expectations with its maiden scooters, the 340 and 450. The electric scooter segment accounts for a small share of the Indian two-wheeler market, primarily owing to limited infrastructure but also due to the lack of a truly convincing product, and Ather has attempted to address both in equal measure. The Ather 450 is as good a petrol-fuelled scooter in terms of everyday usability, performance and dynamics – if not better – and the usual concerns associated with an unconventionally powered scooter (range, charging etc) have been suitably addressed with the phased development of a fast-charging network which has so far been implemented in the city of Bengaluru. While its price tags of Rs 1.10 lakh (340) and 1.25 lakh (450; ex-showroom) seem fairly high for scooters, Ather has loaded them with cutting-edge features and given that electric mobility is in its infancy, the costs are bound to go down once it becomes a more universally accepted format.
Also read: Buying Ather electric scooters: 7 things to know
2. In the pipeline
The 2018 Auto Expo witnessed some noteworthy entries into India’s electric two-wheeler efforts, and the one that made jaws drop was the TVS Creon concept. This extremely racy-looking scooter is powered by a 12kW that’s good for a 0-60kph dash in just 5.1 seconds and offers an 80 km range, with a fast-charging option that tops up 80 percent charge in just an hour. The Creon appears to highlight TVS’ approach to electrics being similar to that of its conventional machines – race-bred, that is! Even more exciting in terms of performance prospects is the Emflux One electric superbike. This slick, streamlined machine is claimed to have a 0-100kph time of 3 seconds and a 200kph top speed, made possible by an 81hp 3-phase AC induction motor and, as per its makers, will go on sale in India by late 2019. Another important announcement at the Auto Expo came from Twenty Two Motors, which took the wraps of its maiden scooter, the Flow. More recently, Twenty Two announced a JV with Taiwanese two-wheeler giant Kymco, which will steer the course of its future operations in the country.
The most important car and SUV highlights of 2018