The Passion is as reputable a brand (if not more) than the Splendor. It has contributed immensely to Hero’s gigantic, overpowering presence as a mass-market manufacturer. Unlike the Splendor, however, the Passion is more liberal in its approach to styling and appeal; and this means Hero can evolve it more generously, at every stage. The result is the two snazzy-looking motorcycles you see here – the Passion Pro and the XPro.
In simple terms, both motorcycles now get the non-sloper, in-house developed 109.1cc motor previously seen only on the Splendor iSmart 110. The output figures on both Passions are identical – 9.5hp at 7,500rpm and 9Nm of torque at 5,500rpm – and both share the 4-speed gearbox, as well. Both get electric starters (as well as a kick) and are carburetted, and i3S (idle-start-stop) is standard on both, too.
How are they different?
In mannerisms, the Passion Pro is the friendlier, more conservative one while the XPro tries its hand at spiritedness. The engine has no contribution to the latter but the difference lies in the dynamic setup. The Pro is 1,962mm long and the XPro is 1,967mm long, with respective wheelbases of 1,236mm and 1,249mm. How, you ask? This is because the XPro gets a longer swingarm and this has a noticeable impact on the cornering liberties, it lends you. The XPro also utilises a stiffer rear shock which adds to its handling prowess and the Pro is, obviously, the more comfortable commuter, as a result.
The two Passions are different visually, too and the XPro is definitely a more appealing design. That being said, thanks to revisions to the bodywork, it’s the more conservative Pro that gets the sportier-looking seat while the XPro has to make do with the flatter unit. The Xpro gets tubeless tyres as well, while the Pro doesn’t. A 240mm front disc is offered on both motorcycles, thankfully, although CBS will only happen by 2019 (when it becomes the norm).
On the tarmac
The XPro is definitely more enjoyable but that may not necessarily be the lookout of the average commuter. The 109cc mill (on both) isn’t happy being revved hard and the heel-and-toe shifter makes quick progress a bit of a task. I couldn’t toe-shift the bike up the gearbox in my riding boots and I wish Hero had taken the initiative to educate and evolve its wide audience base in this aspect – a daunting task but, ultimately, a fulfilling one, no?
This mill is linear and has decent low-end grunt but lacks the refinement of the Honda Dream range, especially at higher revs. Short-shifting is the way to go on these motorcycles since efficiency is, in any case, the priority for in this segment. In the short riding loop I had access to, I managed to get its analogue speedometer to display 80kph, but it’s definitely more at home doing 65kph or lower. Vibrations (from the handlebar and footpegs) are evident but get annoying only if you ride it in a commuter-inappropriate manner (like you would ride a KTM, I mean). Hero definitely could have made a better attempt at improving its refinement levels, however, especially considering it has the benefit of international exposure as well as its impressive Rajasthan-based R&D centre.
Is it rock-solid?
Yes it is. Both motorcycles are devoid of more-than-necessary bodywork (although they aren’t austere either) and with low kerb weights of 116kg (Pro) and 119kg (Xpro), these will come by as friendly, easy-to-ride machines. Both take kindly to bumps and while the Pro is more absorbing thanks to its softer-set suspension, both are pliant and can take on India’s worst with ease. The 18-inch alloys contribute to their relative long-leggedness although I certainly preferred the XPro to the Pro for its longer-swingarm-aided longer wheelbase and the consequent stability.
On a different note, the 240mm disc tends to overpower the front tyre (2.75 x 18 on the Pro, 80/100 R18 on the XPro) and hard braking results in the handlebar getting a pronounced tug to the right. This is not a nice feeling, at all although I would still prefer it to a less potent drum brake.
Which is the one to buy?
Honestly, for all the XPro’s appeal, the Pro is the one to go for. It’s more comfortable and isn’t trying too hard to impress. I’d be hard-pressed to tell one from an XPro in a Hero-infested crowd, anyway. Since the Pro is lighter (by 3kg), taller (in terms of its seat height – 781mm; 778m for the XPro), and has the bigger fuel tank (11 litres; 9.2 litres on the Xpro), it’s more practical and fit for its intended purpose. That having been said, the XPro is worth a consideration if you want a commuter with a slim sporty intent without losing out on efficiency.
Currently, the Splendor iSmart 110 is priced at Rs 52,658 (ex-showroom, Mumbai) and the existing Passion Pro (with an electric starter, disc brake and alloys) is priced at Rs 51,397. This update will realign the Passions’ pricing (and bring it above the Splendor, as it always has) which means we can expect the Passion Pro to be priced at Rs 53,000 and the XPro at Rs 54,000, leaving slim but considerable differences to minimise cannibalisation within the brand.