Fun. It is the one word that perfectly sums up the Ather 450X. Electric mobility is still not a mainstream concept, but the 450X is as close as it can get. A few pages ago you might have read about my experience with all four electric SUVs currently on sale. And it’s safe to say that I was quite impressed with the useability. So, can a city scooter replicate that? It is my first experience using an electric scooter so I am basing a lot of it in comparison to its petrol-powered peers. The 450X is for the average commuter that will ride it mainly to work, and the usual city frolicking.
The first point of attraction apart from the fact that it is an EV, is the design. Yes, EVs are generally quirky-looking and shout their engineless characteristics via some blue accents or a funky color theme. But, with the 450X, it is all very elegant. Yes, it has plenty of sporty bits like the mono-suspension finished in yellow and the contrasting fluro-yellow stripes on the backed-out wheels, but step away and the discreet grey shade allows it to blend in quite comfortably. Still, for those who would like a bit more pop, there is also a very bold shade of green and a plain jane white.
What also gives the 450X a premium touch is the LED headlamp with LED DRLs, and a big 7-inch touchscreen that is the party piece. It has everything from navigation to real-time range and you can even answer calls and toggle through what music you are listening to. It is all quite intuitive. The display is clear and readable and also has a dark mode on offer. You can also toggle through the menu whilst wearing riding gloves which is a neat touch. The practicality is decent too with 22-litres of space under the seat that also houses the charging cable. Speaking of charging, the port for the charger is mounted neatly below the handle, and is easy to access too.
However, performance is where the 450X shines. We know how eager EVs are during acceleration and the 450X is no different. It shoots off as you twist the throttle (if you can call it that) and does so with just a faint whine coming from the motor. It has four driving modes between Eco, Ride, Sport and Warp. Eco and Ride are for those days when you are crawling to work in peak traffic, Sport for that time you need to make a quick errand and Warp is purely for when you want a big grin plastered across your face. Yes, it sounds like I’m talking about a Ferrari, but the way it gains speed is hysterical. Top speed is limited to 80kph, but in all fairness, it does not need more. Even its petrol-powered rivals max out around those speeds.
But toggling through the modes also means toggling through how much range you can eke out of the 450X. In Eco mode, you get a healthy 85km range which is plenty for work and back trips. Also, it is only the initial surge that the Eco misses and once you gain speed, it is quite comfortable to ride. In Ride mode, you get 70km which again, is quite sufficient with a bit more response from the motor. Sport gets you 60km and this is a mode you can use if your daily commute is not too long. And lastly, the laughable Warp mode is good for a puny 50km, but it is likely to be the most fun 50km you can have on a scooter. What is another genius feature, is the reverse mode which helps you glide out easily.
Recharging the battery after you have gone through each mode is not painstakingly long either. A full charge takes just 5 hours 45 mins on the standard three-pin socket in your home. The handling too, thanks to the lightweight characteristics and a missing engine is excellent. It is chuckable and feels at home on our crowded and narrow streets. That mated to the Warp mode, means this is no simple, nerdy EV; it is proper fun. The suspension is also nice and soft and the 450X rides with ease over broken patches of roads. In fact, it is better than some petrol scooters as well. The contoured seat though might suit everyone’s body type as it takes a bit of adjusting. It isn’t like one of those big flat benches that you get on the Honda Activa or TVS Ntorq 125.
The 450X then is surprisingly close to its nature-harming rivals, but like all EVs, you have to pay the price. Sure you save on fuel and maintenance, but you still need to cough up Rs 1.59 lakh for the ‘X’. There is also a ‘Plus’ variant that is a bit detuned which costs Rs 1.39 lakh, which is still a significant amount more. That said, just like with the electric SUVs, the more I rode the Ather, the less I cared about range. Yes, an impromptu plan is still not entirely possible, but once Ather sets up its fast charging Grid network, that too will be a worry of the past. However, as things stand, if you have a set commute within the city, the 450X is worth serious consideration.