First Drives

16 February 2018

First ride: TVS Ntorq 125

TVS Motors' first 125cc scooter comes laden with tech and connectivity. What is the fuss all about?
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This is a smart move from TVS. They’ve taken a scooter and infused it with all sorts of funky features including a fancy digital console with smartphone connectivity. They’ve styled it aggressively, put a 125cc engine in it and are targeting it at youngsters. In a tech-obsessed, smartphone-addicted country, this is a masterstroke. The TVS Ntorq has plenty to make it look appealing on paper. But that isn’t enough. Is all this talk of connectivity just a gimmick, or is there more? And underneath all that tech, is there a solid scooter that can hold its own? We rode the TVS Ntorq 125 at TVS Motors’ test track at Hosur to find out.

First things first, let’s get something clear. This is an all-new scooter. No parts have been shared with anything that has come before this. The engine? It’s a 124.79cc motor, with a three valve head. In terms of output, it makes 9.3bhp (a little higher than the competition) and 10.5Nm (on par with it). TVS says that it a complete ground-up development, and some of that development happened with the scooters they race in the rallies like the Raid-de-Himalaya. The Ntorq gets a telescopic front suspension and a gas-filled shock at the rear, a single disc up front and 12-inch wheels.

We’ll get to how this scooter rides shortly, though. First, let's talk about what most people will be talking about if they get themselves a Ntorq – the SmartXonnect system. The traditional analogue speedo-odo on most scooters is replaced by an all-digital console. The speedometer reading takes centre stage, and it is flanked by readouts of the engine temperature, fuel gauge, odo and clock. This is just in Normal mode, though. Click the mode button, and you enter Sport mode.

Wait, what? Sport mode on a scooter? Yes, TVS have gone and done it. It doesn’t affect how the scooter rides, if that’s what you’re thinking but it does throw up a lap timer and a 0-60kph timer. There are two more modes – which show you your best lap and 0-60kph time and the same figures from your last run. Now we’re not encouraging racing on the streets, okay? Laps of your locality on public roads are probably going to end with pissed off neighbours and fat hospital bills. Find a safe space, use adequate protection and have at it all you want.

There’s plenty of useful functionality programmed into the system as well – you can connect it to your Android smartphone (iPhone users, take a hike) via Bluetooth. Now the screen will throw up alerts when someone calls or messages, and you can set up Do Not Disturbs with preprogrammed messages. The app is also integrated with Map My India and shows navigation prompts on the screen. Then there’s the fact that it will remind you where you parked your bikes, show overspeeding alerts (only if you want it to), save routes and keep a log of your trips.

All of it is rather simple to use. Pairing your phone to it takes less than a minute. The interface is intuitive, functional, looks contemporary and bug-free. The bits like the lap-time are slightly gimmicky – they’re great to earn playground bragging rights, but nothing more. The rest, however, is very well done and extremely useful as well. It adds plenty of convenience to daily riding, offering features that would constantly require you to handle your smartphone on the go, and then some. And don’t worry about it draining your device’s juice – there’s a USB charging port in the boot under the seat.

Now, coming to that riding bit you’ve probably been waiting for. Is the scooter more than an engine, with two wheels and a fancy screen? Well, most certainly and a darn good one at that. This is TVS Motors’ first 125cc scoot and has certainly got a grunt. It’s quick of the line, in fact, I managed a 0-100kph time of 6.7 seconds (not V-box tested, this is what Sport mode readout showed me). It’s got snappy acceleration, and even rolling on to the throttle at city speeds greets you with a fair uptake of pace. Keeping it pinned down the straight allowed me to hit 98kmph. But all this is not at the cost of refinement. The motor is smooth, and doesn’t complain when being wrung.

The engine is great, but what really stood out was the handling. The front end is sharp, it is quick to turn in and enjoys being flicked around. I know, scooters spend more time in traffic and less time being ridden through the twisties, but the Ntorq’s inherent dynamic ability really shone through at the test track. It enjoys being leaned over, and is extremely stable doing so as well. In fact, push it enough and you can even scrape the side panels indiscriminately. That said, this is not at the expense of a pliant suspension. Ride quality remains good over rough patches. It’s no plush, magic carpet ride – it retains some stiffness, but not to a point of discomfort. There’s no traffic (duh) at TVS Motor’s test facility but the Ntorq did reveal how manoeuvrable it is on the tighter sections of their track. The brakes aren’t sharp, but they have good bite and are progressively giving you the confidence to push hard.

As for the way it looks, I think it cuts a clean shape. It’s shouty and loud, without looking overdone or tacky. It looks sleeker in profile, while the rear is slightly chunkier with those faux vents and that taillight gives the Ntorq a distinct identity. Style is subjective, but I don’t think the Ntorq has a polarizing design. It’s safe but well executed.

Clearly, the Ntorq has a lot going for it. The SmartXonnect system does have gimmicky bits, but it does redeem itself with some useful functionality. And the scooter is so much more than just the glitzy screen. It is a solid, capable product that would have challenged its rivals regardless of its predisposition to hook up with your phone. The Ntorq costs Rs 58,750 (ex-showroom, Delhi) and this actually makes it good value at this price. It undercuts rivals like the Grazia by nearly Rs 4000, while offering a fair bit more in terms of functionality. Does it have potential? Oh, yes.

Specs: 124.79cc, 9.3bhp @ 7500rpm, 10.5Nm @5500rpm, CVT, 116.1kg, Fuel Tank: 5 litres, Rs 58,750 (ex-showroom, Delhi)

Verdict: Feature laden, ‘connected’ scooter that is actually sorted on the go as

Aatish Mishra

Tags: tvs, scooter, ntorq, autoexpo, apacherr310

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