Let me start off by saying, that, I am not a big fan of how technology changes every day. Don’t get me wrong. Change is the only constant, but do you really need to update your smartphone every year? You can then understand my displeasure when this trend seeped into the automotive world as well. New-generation cars come every four to five years now! A decade ago, this is how long it took the facelift to arrive. And that is why when I saw the 3rd Gen Ather 450X, I was happy, and a bit puzzled at the same time. Let me explain.
Let’s start with the happy part. Ather’s entire presentation was about how their scooter has improved on the inside. Starting from the ground-up, the tyres are newly developed in partnership with MRF, they are wider, have a new profile, and the size of the contact patch has gone up. The compound is softer, and that really showed when I was hustling the 450X around the bends of Nandi hills. Not once, on any corner, did the Ather give me a reason to doubt the grip levels. And Nandi hills is a place of changing conditions. It’s got fast corners, hairpins, dry tarmac, wet tarmac, and elevation changes - all in a space of 8kms! The suspension of the Ather has been re-tuned as well, but more importantly, it has been done to preserve its ride and handling characteristics - those of you who have ridden the Ather will remember how flick-able it is, and that’s all still there.
As far as comfort goes, the 450X has this magical ride, in which it feels stiff, but goes over a pothole or a speed breaker at way-more-than-acceptable speeds, and it just takes it in its stride. It’s like the 450X wants you to go faster! The braking is highly progressive and the feedback from the levers inspires great confidence in the bends. While Nandi hills have great corners, around every corner is a tourist who wants to click a selfie - that too in the middle of the road! Now I will reserve my judgement for these tourists as I will need way more than four pages to share my emotions, but not once was I nervous whenever a nonchalant tourist stepped in my way as I rounded a corner. Generally, I would shake my wrists, utter some expletives and move on. This time around, none of that drama. I was relaxed. And that’s because the brakes were giving me such confidence that incidents like these simply didn’t scare the living daylights out of me.
Then there is what we have all been asking for, and has kind of become the need of the hour for Ather’s 450X - more range. You see, the Ola S1 Pro with its mission to have the greatest spec sheet in the world has put Ather on the spot. It’s offering more power and more range at a lesser price! And even though I believe that the Ather is the better product and I would be willing to pay more for that value - most people won’t. So keeping this in mind, Ather’s decided to give us a slightly bigger battery pack. Not as much as the competition, but the true range in Smart Eco Mode has gone up from 85kms to 105kms. The reason behind this small range is quite simple. Ather feels that more range is an emotional requirement rather than a practical one. They have data of regular Ather riders riding it on public roads for over more than 218 million kms, and a snapshot of the bigger cities showed that the maximum average distance the 450X was driven every day was 30kms (in Delhi and Ahmedabad), and the least distance was 24kms (Bengaluru). And most people who buy electric two-wheelers charge them at home. So if you look at it, the second-gen 450X can take you from home to office and back for two consecutive days without requiring a charge. Then, why add a bigger battery pack? It will not only increase the price of the scooter but the weight as well - which will wreak havoc on the ride and handling of the 450X! Therefore, less is more in this case as you only get a 0.4kWh bump in battery capacity.
Now let me tell you why I was puzzled when I saw the 3rd Gen Ather 450X. As you already know, the changes are incremental, but when you add them up, they are substantial. But the fact that the only visual change is new larger mirrors and a few optional accessories is kind of a bummer. You see, while Ather is calling this the 3rd Gen 450X, it is essentially an evolution of its electric scooter, instead of a whole new model. When someone asked why there were no visual upgrades, Ather’s response was that it was not their area of focus. While I can understand, and actually like the fact that Ather wants to focus on making a strong product, and not just something that looks cool, would introducing a new colour have been all that difficult?
Is the Ather 450X an all-new scooter then? No. For a new Ather, you will have to wait. What then the 3rd Gen Ather 450X is a more refined version of itself. So, if you loved the Ather before, there’s a good chance you will love it even more, but if you didn’t really fancy it before, you might not be all that impressed by this new one. As for the buying decision, the Ather has what it takes to do pretty much everything inside urban limits, but if you try and push it beyond that out on to the highways, then it starts running into problems.
- Ather 450X Gen 3
Motor: 6.2kW Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
Battery: 3.7kWh Li-ion
Peak Power: 8.3bhp
Peak Torque: 26Nm
Range: 146kms (Claimed)
Charging Time: 0 – 80% – 4 Hrs 30 Mins (5A Wall Socket) / 15kms in 10 Mins (Ather Grid Fast Charger)
Price: ₹1.39 Lakh (Post-subsidy Ex-showroom, Delhi)