What is it?
Say hello to Yamaha India's new 125cc scooter, the Fascino 125 Fi. This marks the Japanese company's foray in the burgeoning 125cc scooter space, one that Yamaha says is set to grow rapidly as the years progress.
Though the scooter bears the same name as its 110cc segment sibling, the new Fascino 125 Fi is new from the ground up – we’re talking a new chassis, new engine, new suspension components, new wheels, wider tyres and a lot more. Let's begin by examining its design.
What does it look like?
When you first look at the new Fascino it seems like an evolution of the current scooter. It's bigger, wider and longer than its younger sibling, while retaining that same, swoopy design that helped the scooter create an identity for itself. The front-end catches your attention with its inverted triangle headlamp that gets chrome surround and chrome strips on the apron. It doesn't look gaudy, though it may not be to everyone's taste. If you are of the opinion that the chrome bits are off-putting, the standard version of the scooter has these bits painted in gloss black, with even the central portion of the apron donning a matte black colour scheme. The side profile showcases the sweeping tail section that looks very European, while the single piece tail lamp, with integrated turn indicators is a neat touch.
The body panels are put together quite well with barely any gaps to speak of. You see a similar kind of attention to fit when you look at the way the headlamp cowl and panels around the analogue instrument cluster have been put together. Speaking of instrumentation, the analogue dials are easy to read and gel with the rest of the design. We did ask Yamaha if they’d consider a digital readout but they told us that it would have driven the price up.
There’s also plenty of attention to detail – there are some interesting patterns on the plastic bits, especially on the inside of the apron. It certainly helps break the monotony of a plain (or shiny) plastic surface. Overall, the Fascino's design appeal is down to personal preferences but it certainly looks better in person than what the pictures suggest.
A peek under the seat – which is open-able by turning the key to the left by slotting it into a new multifunctional ignition slot – reveals the 21-litre boot. While it is generous, we wish Yamaha would have offered a courtesy lamp and a USB charging port, especially in today's day and age.
Is it comfortable?
The new Fascino is much larger than Yamaha’s sub-125cc offerings and that translates to more room. The seats are wider and more accommodating, while the floorboard space has also gone up significantly. That said, the way the floorboard has been angled upwards makes your knees point up, which inturn means that while executing a tight, feet up, U-turn, the knees also fouls the motion of the handlebar.
What's the engine like?
The Fascino is powered by a new 125cc, fuel-injected, air-cooled engine that produces 8.2hp at 6,500rpm and 9.7Nm at 5,000rpm. These figures are pretty much in the same ballpark as the Activa 125 BS6, but considerably lower than other 125cc scooters from TVS, Suzuki and Aprilia. What helps the Yamaha is its low 99kg kerb weight.
At the outset, let us tell you that we only spent about fifteen minutes riding the new Yamaha Fascino 125 Fi. We rode the scooter inside a hotel compound on paver blocks and hit a maximum speed of 60kph down the short straight. Although these aren’t real-world conditions, we've tried to assess as much as we possibly could in the short time we had.
Twist the throttle and the scooter gathers pace rapidly and this should make the Fascino quick off the line. The engine feels refined as well, whether at low speeds or under full bore acceleration. But as we've mentioned, a complete road test will reveal how well it can sustain this level of refinement over a period of time. We are also waiting to see how quick it will turn out to be against the clock, considering its 82.82hp/tonne power-to-weight ratio. Yamaha claims an increase in fuel economy over the BS4 113cc Fascino, by 8kpl.
Whether the scooter actually manages to achieve the claimed 58kpl or thereabouts in real world conditions is also what we shall verify in our comprehensive review. That said, the scooter has an interesting start-stop system that aims to maximise fuel economy. What it basically does is that it cuts the engine if it's been idling for over three seconds, for instance when you've stopped at a traffic light. To begin riding again, the rider needs to simply twist the throttle grip to fire up the engine and get going. The system worked flawlessly in the few minutes we got to simulate a traffic scenario. However, we did notice that the engine takes a little over a second to turn on after you've opened the throttle. The Honda Activa 125 BS6 has a similar feature and we found it to work quite seamlessly.
What's it like to ride?
Yamaha developed an all-new frame for the new Fascino 125 scooter, that's about 4kg lighter than the smaller-capacity Fascino. Not only that, the 125cc scooter also features a new telescopic fork and rear shock too. Coupled with the wider tyres, the scooter felt planted at the fastest speed we managed to achieve: 60kph to be precise. The paver blocks we riding on were uneven in some places, and that exposed the slightly firm low speed ride. However, ride quality improved as the speed went up, but we shall reserve our judgement for the road test.
As far as braking is concerned, the unified braking system works well and the front disc has a decent amount of bite.
When can you buy one and should you?
The new Yamaha Fascino ushers in a new era for Yamaha's scooter journey in India. In fact, the brand is so confident about this new platform that the existing line-up of sub-125cc scooters will cease to exist post the April 2020 BS6 deadline. While only time will tell if this was a good decision or not, the product is certainly promising.
The Fascino 125 looks markedly different to the current crop of 125cc scooters and that's one of its biggest highlights. The strange thing, however, is that there's no 125 badging on the Fascino and we wonder what stopped Yamaha from putting that badge on. Another aspect that works in the scooter’s favour is the new engine, which has genuine potential.
Prices for the Fascino 125 begin at Rs 66,430 for the standard, drum brake version and go up to Rs 69,930 for the top-spec, disc brake-equipped deluxe version. These are very competitive prices and the top model is a whole Rs 4,560 less than the top-spec Activa 125, which is currently the only other BS6 125cc scooter available. Now that’s a clear sign of a battle brewing between the two Japanese majors. Who said competition isn't good, eh?