We compare the similarly priced Aprilia SXR 160 and the Ather 450X to answer the one question that has plaguing everyone’s mind of late – is it time to go electric?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’d know that electric mobility is now widely accepted as the future of automobiles. However, it’s interesting to note that conceptually, electric vehicles aren’t new. In fact, brainiacs have been toying with the idea of an electric vehicle long before internal combustion engines came into existence. But efforts in developing sustainable electric vehicles were more or less independent and scattered. But now, with countries across the world driving the switch to green vehicles, and manufacturers doing their bit as well, the electric future almost seems like a reality. But we can’t help but ask the question – can EVs really replace internal combustion engines?
To answer this question, we decided to pit the Ather 450X Series 1 against the Aprilia SXR 160. While we could have done this test with other vehicles as well, we chose these two for a few reasons. First, if EVs are to be widely accepted, they must cater to a large segment of vehicle buyers, especially in a two-wheeler dominated market like ours. Second, Ather, with its structured strategy, is the most promising EV start-up in the country today. And third, both these scooters are more or less similarly priced.
From design to performance and range anxiety to running costs, we address every aspect in this EV vs ICE battle, so read on…
Before we get into the core of this comparison, let’s get design and features out of the way. Both these scooters have a very individual appeal. The SXR 160 has a typical Italian flair, with a beautiful RS660-inspired headlamp, superb paint quality, and sleek LED taillamps. The Ather, on the other hand, is sleek, sharp, and modern looking. While both scooters look stunning in their own right, it’s the Ather that mesmerises you with its details. From the sharp-looking front fender and headlight profile to the exposed frame and neatly integrated side stand, everything comes together to make the 450X look stylishly beautiful.
The model that we tested was the limited-edition Series 1, with smart looking translucent side panels. In comparison, the Aprilia is a bit of a disappointment, especially when you look at it with keen eyes. Its handlebar plastic seems rough and scratchy, panel gaps are inconsistent, and switchgear feels substandard. In terms of size though, the Aprilia is the undeniable winner – it’s considerably longer and wider than the Ather.
Getting into a comfortable riding position on both scooters is rather undemanding, and you can easily get both your feet on the ground. Both have a huge scope for improvement in terms of seat cushion – the 450X’s cushion is too soft, while the SXR’s seat is way too firm. Neither of them offers great comfort for long rides.
The Ather’s party piece is really the touchscreen display, which packs a ton of features, including incoming call alerts, music on the go, and navigation. In comparison, the Aprilia’s negative display looks extremely basic and outmoded.
Balance of power
While the design is more or less a matter of choice, it’s the performance that makes things interesting in this battle. The SXR 160 makes 10.6bhp and 11Nm, and the 450X produces 8bhp and 26Nm. What the electric offering seems to lack in terms of power, it makes up in torque output. And if that isn’t enough, the Ather is 20kg lighter than the Aprilia. We tested the acceleration of both these scooters, and the results were surprisingly close. The 450X Series 1 did the 0 – 40km/h dash in 3.5 seconds – that’s four-tenths of a second quicker than SXR 160. Given the instantaneous power delivery of the electric, the 450X clearly has an initial edge over the SXR. But beyond the 40km/h mark, the curve flattens out – the electric scooter took 7.8 seconds to reach the 60km/h mark. In comparison, the Aprilia proved to be notably quicker, taking just 7.1 seconds to cross the said mark.
The Ather also gets multiple riding modes. In the Eco mode, it seems mellow and somewhat lethargic, especially when going uphill or starting off from a traffic light. However, this mode does come with a promise of 85km of riding range. There is a noticeable improvement when you switch to Ride or Sport, but it’s in the wrap mode that things get dialled up to 11. The beauty of the Bengaluru-based offering lies in the refinement of its electric motor and the complete absence of head-jerk that we have experienced on some other electric scooters during deceleration.
Apart from a distinct friction sound as you set off, it feels buttery smooth. In fact, it lets out a sweet aeroplane like note, which is almost like music to the ears. The Aprilia, on the other hand, doesn’t set any benchmarks in terms of refinement – it feels gruff and even emits a rattling sound.
In terms of braking hardware, the 450X comes with disc brakes at both ends, while the Aprilia makes do with a disc-drum combination. Both scooters’ brakes offer a good bite, but while the 450X’s setup feels communicative, the SXR 160 feels rather woody.
The electric offering also has an edge over the ICE one in terms of ride quality. Set up on the softer side, the 450X cushions bumps a lot better than the firm setup of the SXR 160. In fact, owing to its compact dimensions and lighter weight, the 450X is also a lot easier to manoeuvre in the city. Out on twisty roads though, the Aprilia’s handling prowess outshines the Ather, but then would you really take it to the hills?
Range Anxiety is real
Ather claims that the 450X takes 5 hours 45 minutes to fully charge. The portable charger that you get with the scooter (you can also opt for a home charger) was more or less on point in terms of charge time, however, we did have difficulties in getting it started. Now, Ather promises a maximum riding range of 85km in the Eco mode, however, it isn’t the mode that you’d ride in for the most part. For a better balance between range and performance, you’ll have to switch between modes as the situation demands – something that you can do on the fly as well. In our test, the 450X recorded a real-world range of 75km in city conditions, with 75% of the riding in the Eco mode. While the range should be sufficient for most scooter users, I must admit that the range-anxiety is very much real. For instance, after our shoot, despite the scooter showing 20kms of range, I played it safe by choosing the SXR, even though my destination was not more than 20kms, leaving the 450X in the hands of Shivank who had a much shorter distance to cover.
The Aprilia, on the other hand, returned a fuel efficiency of 33km/l in city conditions. So, with the 7-litre fuel tank capacity, it seems to have a range of over 200kms. The SXR 160, just like any other ICE scooter, offers peace of mind, while the 450X necessitates a thorough and meticulously planned route.
Now, let’s get to the most important topic – the price. The Aprilia SXR 160 and the Ather 450X Pro are priced at Rs 1.53 lakh and Rs 1.69 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), respectively. While the ex-showroom prices of the two scooters are Rs 34,000 apart, the Ather gets the benefit of the FAME II subsidies. More importantly, Ather claims that the 450X can be charged fully in just 3 – 4 units of electricity, which costs roughly Rs 25-30 for a range of 75km. In comparison, with the current price of petrol at over Rs 98 in Mumbai, you need to spend about Rs 222 to cover a similar distance. Additionally, service costs for the Aprilia are sure to be higher too. All things considered, you should be able to recover the additional money spent on acquiring the 450X Pro within the first year of ownership.
EV vs ICE
While Ather is a well thought out and wholesome product, there is no denying that it is still a few fries short of a happy meal. And that has a lot less to do with the product itself and more to do with the ecosystem surrounding EVs. With limited charging stations around us, you still cannot mindlessly head out on the 450X. With that in mind, we still have a few years before EVs can really be deemed practical. But there is no denying that the 450X looks fantastic, is well built, and packs new-age tech too.
The Aprilia SXR 160 isn’t perfect either. It lacks tech in comparison to the Ather, has room for improvement in terms of quality, and the engine isn’t the most refined either. On the flip side, its Italian flair is sure to charm customers. Also, it packs good performance and handles like a dream. To sum it up, if you want to embrace the electric future, there’s no better product than the Ather in the market today. However, considering all the inherent limitations of an electric scooter, the SXR 160 seems to be a safer bet between the two.
- Ather 450X Series 1
- Aprilia SXR 160
Motor: Brushless DC Motor
Battery: 2.9kwH Battery Pack
Power: 6kW / 8bhp
Charging Time: 0 – 100% in 5hrs 45mins; 0 – 80% in 3hrs 35mins
Price: ₹1.69 lakh (On-Road, Mumbai)
X-factor: Easily the most performance-packed, well-equipped, and well-thought-out electric scooter on offer.
• Ride quality
• Range anxiety
• Soft seat
Engine: 160cc / Single-Cylinder / 3-Valve / Fuel-Injected
Power: 10.6bhp @ 7,100rpm
Torque: 11Nm @ 5,750rpm
Price: ₹1.53 lakh (On-Road, Mumbai)
X-factor: With its stunning design and performance, the SXR 160 is true to its maxi-scooter form.
• Italian design