Ather has proven its ability to make a high-quality scooter, but it’s only now that the Bengaluru-based company has begun expanding its ne...
Ather has proven its ability to make a high-quality scooter, but it’s only now that the Bengaluru-based company has begun expanding its network and production capabilities. With its flagship 450X soon to be available in multiple cities nationwide, it seemed like a good time to put this new scooter through the full Autocar road test.
The 450X’s power delivery is quite exhilarating.
While the 450X doesn’t bring significant updates when it comes to the design, it’s still quite likeable. Most scooters on sale in India are getting wider and heavier with each update, whereas this one lost 11kg in its evolution. The sharp bodywork and modern lighting, paired with the matte grey colour scheme, set it apart. Helping it stand out even more are snazzy aluminium components like the mirror stalks, number plate bracket and the exposed lattice frame.
The electric platform has also not limited the Ather’s practicality in any way and it continues to have a decent amount of underseat storage space, at 22 litres. It also remains quite conventional in terms of its seating ergonomics and that’s hard to come by in the electric scooter space in India.
Minimalistic LED tail-light and indicators are a design highlight.
Underneath the bodywork is where you’ll notice the majority of changes the X brought over the old 450. The installed battery capacity is 2.9kWh (up from 2.71kWh) and it proves itself with the most range we’ve ever got out of an electric two-wheeler in India. In its most efficient mode, Eco, it did 80.1km which is right in the ballpark of what the company claims. In the performance-oriented Warp mode though, that figure drops to 50.9km, which is still quite impressive once you hear its acceleration times.
The retuned motor also develops a peak output of 6kW (up from 5.4kW). More importantly, the peak torque has gone up from 20.5Nm to 26Nm. What these figures translate to is a super quick 0-60kph acceleration time of 7.36sec and speedo-indicated top speed of around 90kph, making it the quickest accelerating scooter on sale in India.
Aluminium components like the mirrors look and feel expensive.
What impresses even more though is how the Ather delivers its power in Warp mode – it’s instantaneous and, surprisingly, quite exhilarating. The sci-fi spaceship-like whine from the motor only adds to the drama. While Sport mode is also quite engaging, it distinguishes itself with slightly less aggressive throttle response, whereas Ride and Eco modes reduce the urgency even further. Ride also limits the scooter to around 60kph, while Eco will max out at around 50kph. The 450X is faster than many other Chinese-origin electric scooters even in its slowest mode and packs much better real-world range as well.
The 450X carries forward the older scooter’s steel-aluminium hybrid frame, suspension, brakes and 12-inch wheels. Ather has, however, made the telescopic fork slightly stiffer, making it lighter and quicker to steer. The scooter is predictable and flickable, with the only limiting factor being the range-friendly 90/90-12 tyres. The firmer setup hasn’t affected the ride quality significantly and it does very well over broken patches of tarmac. Even with a pillion, the ride quality remains quite pliant.
Ather has also updated the display on the 450X and it now uses an Android-based OS and gets Bluetooth connectivity, enabling call- and music- related information. Unlike the first-gen scooter, this responds to the touch even with riding gloves on. The scooter also features a 4G eSIM that enables the onboard Google Maps and automatic software updates. However, the display software isn’t perfect and we faced a few glitches – at times, it would fail to recognise the scooter was at standstill, due to which it wouldn’t allow us to access all the functions. A couple of times, the system also abruptly rebooted for no apparent reason.
The display also shows the remaining charge time on the screen if you give it a tap even when the key is out, which is quite useful. Speaking of the charge time, the 450X took around four hours to charge with the portable charger, and is said to take the same amount of time via the Dot charger. The Dot charger is a wall-mounted unit that can be opted for instead of the portable unit at the time of purchase. It’s a more permanent solution for a garage space. If you want the portable charger in addition to the Dot or vice-versa, it costs Rs 11,000!
Both these chargers don’t offer the fast charging function and that can only be done via the Ather Grid public charging network. Plugged in at almost zero, we got a fast charge time of around 1.5 hours. The Grid is free till March 31, 2021; the cost per charge after that is yet to be decided. If you are wondering why Ather won’t allow you to fast charge it at home, it’s because doing it frequently can adversely affect the battery.
The large screen and Google Maps support make navigation a breeze.
Thanks to the state subsidy provided by Delhi, the Ather 450X costs the lowest there, at Rs 1.47 lakh (ex-showroom). The price in every other city, meanwhile, is around Rs 1.6 lakh, and that’s before registration and insurance charges, making it the most expensive scooter on sale in India. That said, when it comes to performance and technology, the 450X is not just the leader in the electric scooter space but the entire scooter segment in the country.
Each full charge on the Ather is estimated to cost around Rs 12-20 (3kWh). Compare that to the infinitely growing prices of fuel and you’ll end up saving a substantial amount of money in the long run. Regardless of the low running costs, there’s no escaping that the 450X is an expensive product, but you get the quality and capability that you’re paying for.