The automatic scooter segment in India is witnessing a lot of action lately generating large sales numbers for most manufacturers. TVS Motor Company has had scooters in its product portfolio for quite some time now, but it has only recently looked at offering models that appeal to customers beyond their modest value proposition. A great example of this is the company’s first 125 cc scooter, the TVS NTORQ 125, which was launched recently across the country. We were invited by TVS to experience the NTORQ 125 at its test track in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. Here’s our take on the newest member of the TVS Motor Company family, which has a number of firsts to its segment.
The TVS NTORQ 125 is aimed at the youth, with the company claiming it to be a sporty scooter that carries some motorcycle characteristics, and not a complete performance-oriented sports scooter. The scooter features all traditional TVS technologies with TVS Racing-inspired performance, in addition to a new engine, wider tyres and connected features.
The NTORQ 125 is said to be the production version of the Graphite concept scooter that TVS had showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo. The scooter is designed with styling inspired by a stealth aircraft, and this is evident from the multiple sharp lines, faux air vents and rivet-like finishes of bolts on body panels. The front of the scooter features an aggressive apron comprising three types of materials in as many colours. The lower part of the apron houses the halogen headlamp that includes LED daytime running lights at the very bottom. Turn indicators are located at the corners of the fairing covering the handle bars, which is accentuated in the centre with a small visor in glossy back that adds a sporty visual appeal.
Move over to the side and you see the triple colour theme continuing with the use of plastics featuring sharp body lines. All body panels of the scooter (with some panels featuring additional textures) have a feel-good factor around it and exudes a solid look. TVS is offering the NTORQ 125 in four colours; all of which are finished in matte. The company said that while most similar scooters in India comprise 10-11 body panels, the NTORQ has 21 panels, and this is not easily visible. The handle bar console is made up of a full digital speedometer as well as an engine kill switch – a first for any scooter – overtaking pass-by switch, and other controls. It must be noted that all the switchgears on the NTORQ is of very high quality, which when combined with the body panels, shows an exceptional level of build quality.
The rear of the scooter is finished off with a ‘T’ shaped full-LED tail lamp, which is a feature design character of the scooter. Other visual highlights of the TVS NTORQ 125 include diamond cut black alloy wheels, stubby exhaust muffler, 3D NTORQ logo on either side of the body, and split rear grab rails. The scooter also comes with passenger foot pegs finished in silver, non-functional afterburner-styled rear vents on either sides of the tail lamp, and dual turn indicators that are found on a motorcycle.
As mentioned earlier, the NTORQ 125 is equipped with an all-digital instrument cluster featuring connectivity via Bluetooth, and this is the major highlight of the scooter. This connectivity feature, which the company has christened ‘SmartXonnect’ makes the NTORQ the first-ever two-wheeler to provide Bluetooth connectivity. The entire TFT console has been developed by TVS in partnership with its supplier Pricol Ltd, wherein both companies are said to have actively participated in the process of identifying and implementing appropriate functionalities.
The digital instrument console of the NTORQ 125 provides three trip meters. This also includes Trip F, which starts clocking the distance covered once the scooters reach the low fuel level, and this is apart from flashing a warning. This ensures that ample information is provided to the rider to help him refuel in time. As an industry-first feature, the console provides information on the scooter’s engine temperature, which is seen in four-wheelers alone. In true TVS style, the cluster has an indicator for Power and Eco modes as well.
The digital meter is the first in a scooter, or for that matter almost any two-wheeler, to offer two modes of ride information – the Street Mode is the default mode of the scooter, and the Sport Mode. It must be noted that these two modes do not alter/ enhance the riding performance of the scooter, but merely offer different types of information to the rider. The Street Mode provides basic information including speed, distance, time, fuel level and engine temperature. Meanwhile, the Sport Mode collects additional riding data of which a number of them are first-ever features, such as in-built lap timer, top speed recorder, lap distance, 0-60 km/h time recorder and average speed.
While all this information is recorded by the digital instrument cluster, the real vehicle integration feature is enhanced by the SmartXonnect Bluetooth-enabled smartphone connectivity. Bluetooth connectivity is enabled by the TVS proprietary app (TVS NTORQ) that needs to be downloaded from the Google Play Store, which has the capability of being configured according to each individual’s personalisation. All the ride information and statistics collected in the Sport Mode is reflected in the mobile app, and can be stored for future reference. The TVS NTORQ also allows sharing of ride statistics on social platforms for comparison with others. The app is extremely user-friendly and is very easy to get used to.
Once connected, information such as caller ID, message and missed call alerts are flashed on the instrument cluster itself, thus eliminating the need for the rider to reach for his phone while riding. Other features that can be set in the app include over-speed alerts with flash message when the set speed is crossed and a ‘do not disturb’ feature with automatic SMS reply while riding. These features clearly enhance the safety quotient of the TVS NTORQ, offering the least amount of distraction to the rider.
It must also be noted that the TVS NTORQ 125 becomes the first-ever scooter to come up with live active navigation assist with turn-by-turn instruction. This navigation system has been specially-developed by TVS in collaboration with MapmyIndia. The company has developed a special app to interface the scooter with MapmyIndia’s map data. Navigation can be activated by setting a destination on the mobile app, and any information regarding this will be displayed on the instrument cluster. In addition, when a set destination has been passed, the app sends out a flash message on the cluster within 50 m and reroutes the rider to its intended destination. After reaching the destination and switching off the scooter, the app also creates a typical riding information report including distance travelled, time taken and average speed, among others. A by-product of the navigation function is the last parked location assist, which provides information on the parking location of the scooter to assist in identifying one’s scooter in large parking lots.
The TVS NTORQ 125 is the company’s first entry into the 125 cc automatic scooter segment. The scooter is powered by a four-stroke, air-cooled, overhead camshaft, three-valve, single-cylinder 124.79 cc CVTi REVV engine. The single-pot engine delivers about 9.3 hp of power at 7,500 rpm, with peak torque of 10.5 Nm at 5,500 rpm, which are among the highest power ratings in the segment. The scooter has a claimed top speed of 95 km/h, and is said to record a speed of 0-60 km/h in nine seconds. The company claims this engine was developed keeping the TVS Racing tradition and fun-factor in mind, with a slightly biased orientation towards performance rather than efficiency. We were able to touch a speedometer-indicated speed of 100 km/h and speedometer-indicated time of seven seconds to reach 60 km/h from standstill. These figures, taking away errors, show that the scooter does achieve every single performance claim it puts out.
In our opinion, the company has got the performance spot on, with a high level of torque that provides a punch right from the time the accelerator is pressed. There is an ample amount of power that can keep the ride interesting till about 85 km/h, after which the rate of acceleration begins to diminish slightly. This does not mean the engine begins to struggle and lose breath, but just that acceleration after this stage is a tad slower than earlier till it reaches its top speed. The engine and transmission exude a refined feel and deliver power in a linear manner, which means riding at lower speeds on congested roads would also be a comfortable affair.
COMFORT, RIDING DYNAMICS
The TVS NTORQ 125 features a newly-developed high rigidity under the bone rectangular tube-type frame. The company said it has for the first time utilised rectangular tubes for the chassis, which has led to improved rigidity and lower weight. The scooter comes with a wheelbase measuring 1,285 mm, along with a ground clearance of 155 mm and kerb weight of 116.1 kg. It is the heaviest scooter in its class, but does not act as a catalyst for lethargy, but rather a factor for added road grip. It seems that this weight is also a reason for vibrations being at a bare minimum. This holds good across the rev bands, meaning whether you’re in stop-and-go urban traffic or cruising along an open road, you hardly come across any harshness in the form of vibrations.
The NTORQ 125 offers the longest wheelbase in its category, along with average ground clearance. This translates into a very comfortable riding position, for riders from below average height to those passing the six feet mark. The seat has a subtle but well-designed demarcation for the rider and pillion, which also provides a lightly-caved in design for utmost rider comfort. Under the seat is a 22 l storage cavity that is offered with a light when opened, along with a USB phone charger. The scooter features an external fuel filler that leads to a 5-litre fuel tank. As the case with sporty scooters, the seat does have an inclined angle, which also gets thinner towards its end. While cushioning and thigh clearance are of no issue for the pillion, the angle of the seat could take the pillion by surprise during hard braking, resulting in the sliding onto the rider. No wonder then that the split grab rails have been so well designed that it is easy to grab on to at a wink!
The TVS NTORQ 125 comes with 12-inch alloy wheels with the front and rear featuring 100/80 and 110/80 section tyres, respectively. In terms of braking, the scooter receives a 220-mm roto petal disc brake upfront, with 130 mm drum brakes at the rear. The NTORQ is offered with telescopic front suspension, with the rear being equipped with a gas-filled hydraulic type coil spring shock absorber. The suspension seems to be set up on the firmer side when compared to most other scooters, but it is not so firm that it starts to hurt the rider.
This combination of large-dimension wheels and wide tyres, with front disc brake provides an extremely confident ride. While the powerful engine encourages one to push the scooter in terms of riding, it is a combination of the tyres, braking, chassis dynamics and weight distribution that imparts confidence to the rider. While most riders may not extract the full potential of the NTORQ, for those who do the scooter offers a confident ride, and also reacts quickly to corrections made by the rider after faulty manoeuvres.
Launched at a price of Rs 58,750, ex-showroom Delhi, the TVS NTORQ 125 seems to be one of the best value propositions in the 125 cc scooter segment at present. While this is a fairly small segment of the automatic scooter market, there is good potential for TVS to steal customers looking at lower-powered scooters and motorcycles. While the package of connected technologies, engine and other components make it an obvious choice, the styling may be too radical for customers looking for traditional designs. There is also the fuel economy factor, which honestly, TVS is not looking at as one of its top priorities for the NTORQ 125. With stronger positives than negatives (if that word can be used), the TVS NTORQ is expected to be received well in the Indian market, where styling, performance and connectivity are coming across as top customer demands.
TEXT & PHOTO: Naveen Arul