India is the largest two-wheeler market in the world and scooters comprise over 30% of all two-wheeler sales in the country. Despite the large numbers, advancement in the scooter segment has been rather slow. Sure, over the past few years we’ve got some scooters with new-tech that was unheard of in this class, but most products are conservatively styled and limited to the 100-125cc class. Kinetic did try to spice things up with the launch of the Blaze in 2006, but the 165cc maxi-scooter was way ahead of its time.
In more recent years, Piaggio has been the only scooter maker to play in the 150-160cc space with the Aprilia and Vespa brands. Suzuki, meanwhile, brought in the maxi-scooter-styled Burgman Street with a 125ccc heart – a smart move that combined the best of both worlds. Since its launch in 2018, the Burgman has done reasonably well for the Japanese brand. The Burgman seems to have opened the doors for maxi-scooters in India, and Piaggio is ready to take the plunge with the all-new SXR 160.
How does it look?
Aprilia claims that the SXR 160 has been designed in Italy but made for India – it is Italian design at its best. In fact, I personally think that it is one of the most beautiful scooters to go on sale in India. The large and wide RS 660 inspired front-end with the LED DRLs gives the SXR 160 a clean and sporty appeal. The tall black windscreen adds a sense of contrast to the overall design. Along the sides, it gets three strips with the Italian flag colours – once again similar to the RS 660.
Just like the other scooters from the brand, there’s Aprilia lettering below the floor board. The side panel is sharp and gets SXR 160 decals. There’s some fine craftsmanship at display here that you simply cannot ignore – the neatly integrated side stand and pillion foot rest, and the nicely contoured seats with contrast stitching to name a few. The rear-three quarter may not be the best angle to look at the SXR 160 from as it looks over-sized and ungainly. The inverted L-shaped taillight looks stylish but the exhaust is too bulky for my liking.
While the design is exquisite, the quality in certain areas could have been better. The joints on the handlebar plastic could have been tighter, the switchgear and the exhaust could have been of better quality too. As far as features go, the SXR 160 gets an LED headlamp and taillamp, a fully digital negative display and single-channel ABS. It misses out on a parking brake clamp, and while Aprilia does give Bluetooth connectivity as an option, we really think it should have been standard given its premium price.
The seat is wide and long making it comfortable for the rider as well as the pillion. Getting both feet on the ground for most riders should be easy thanks to the low 770mm seat height, and despite the bulky proportions it is surprisingly easy to put the SXR 160 on the centre stand as well.
How is it to ride?
As expected, the SXR 160 sports the same engine as the SR 160 – a 160cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine with a 3-valve head. This motor makes an identical 10.8bhp and 11.6Nm. We haven’t yet ridden the BS6 SR 160, but from what we remember of the old SR 150, this BS6 motor is noticeably more refined than before – although still not as smooth as some of the other scooters out there. There is a noticeable vibration at around the 5,000rpm, but it diminishes as you gain speed.
Acceleration is quick, but it doesn’t feel as quick as the SR, which we believe could be a result of the increased weight. The SXR 160 feels comfortable at speed of about 70-75km/h, beyond which you start feeling a prominent judder on the floorboard.
One of the biggest downsides of the SR 150 was its firm suspension setup and the resultant harsh ride quality. The front-end sent out pretty much every undulation of the road to the handle bar. Aprilia says that the suspension has been softened for enhanced comfort. Combined with the smaller 12-inch wheels, this gives it a more agreeable ride quality – you still feel the jarring on the handlebar over the really bad roads though. As far as handling goes, the SXR 160 feels well-mannered and planted, but isn’t as nimble as the SR – that 129kg weight doesn’t quite go unnoticed. Braking force comes from a 220mm disc at the front and a 140mm drum at the rear. While the front brake felt sharp, the rear felt relatively woody – overall braking performance is par for the course though.
Should you buy it?
Piaggio, with the Vespa’s retro-modern design and Aprilia’s performance and handling, has always offered something unique to scooter customers – something that other brands haven’t been able to replicate. By bringing in the SXR 160, they are taking the game a step further. It sure has some imperfections – inconsistent quality and limited features to name a few, but it does pack adequate performance and is comfortable too. Above all, it is a beautifully crafted scooter, and that itself will draw a lot of customers to the showroom.
From there on, it will all depend on the pricing. At a range of Rs 1.05-1.12 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the SR 160 is already quite an expensive scooter, and we expect this one to demand a premium over it. And with that in mind, it remains to be seen how well the SXR does on the sale charts.
Would we recommend it? To someone who is willing to pay a premium for good aesthetics, and wants a good blend of performance and comfort, sure! But if you are looking for a scooter just for your daily runabouts, there are more affordable and better value for money products that you could consider.
- Aprilia SXR 160
Engine: 160cc / Single-Cylinder / 3-valve / Fuel-Injected
Power: 10.6bhp @ 7,100rpm
Torque: 11Nm @ 5,750rpm
Expected Price: Rs 1.20-1.30 lakh (ex-showroom)
X-Factor: The SXR 160 is an impressive union of stunning design and good comfort.
• Exquisite design