Benelli has been in India for a while now, wherein they have been revving up the hearts of premium motorcycle buyers. However, their journey hasn’t been well rewarded with appreciable sales figures. And now, Benelli kick-starts its innings in the Indian market with its Hungarian sister company – Keeway. Keeway is a brand owned by Chinese QJ Motors, which has partnered with Adishwar Auto for Indian operations.
Keeway has entered our shores at such a time wherein affluent buyers are about to explore the fun quotient of an otherwise practical side of scooters. The Keeway Vieste 300, a maxi-scooter, slots itself between an already appealing Yamaha Aerox 155 and AAAA… an expensively desirable BMW C 400 GT. We have ridden it for a short period, and here are our first-ride impressions to share insights on how attractive the Vieste 300 makes the case for itself.
Keeway Vieste 300: Engine and Performance
The first and foremost aspect of any such exclusive genre of commute is the performance, and Vieste 300 manages to plunge ahead with eagerness with its 278cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine. By the way, do not set high expectations for outright performance figures considering the engine’s displacement. The 278cc produces 18.7hp max power at 6500 RPM and 22Nm of max torque at 600 RPM. The kerb weight of the maxi-scooter is 147kg, which translates into 0.128hp/kg of power-to-weight ratio, roughly around the same as the Yamaha Aerox 155. One can zip past the city traffic in style with enough grunt on demand. The engine pulls up enthusiastically up to the 80-90kmph mark. However, once it passes the 100kmph, the buzz and noise of the machine limits one from stretching its capabilities further.
I have managed to further experience its capabilities out on the highways, wherein its cruising characteristics have left me impressed. The vibrations are bare minimal as soon as one gets going. Well, at idle and stop-start traffic, you would experience the handlebars vibrating quite a lot. I hope Keeway sorts it out in the near future soon because it spoils the pleasant experience one would expect from a premium maxi-scooter like the Vieste 300. Moreover, the mileage, however, isn’t economical by any means. I encountered 21kmpl of overall fuel economy, translating into around 250 km range with its 12-litre fuel tank.
Keeway Vieste 300:Ride and Handling
The Vieste 300 ride and handling characteristics aren’t confidence-inspiring. Both the front and rear suspension are tuned to the stiffer side, which translates to an uncomfortable riding experience out on our city roads. The rear setup is so stiff that it can hurt your back if ridden hard through potholes and speed bumps. It isn’t all about just suspension; the seats are also not well-cushioned either. The seating posture could be a little troublesome for the tall person, as there would be no room for adjustment whatsoever. The small back seat backrest could be helpful for the short person over long journeys. However, the tall person would find it quite uncomfortable.
The Vieste 300 doesn’t like to be flicked around quite often. The wheelbase of 1390mm restricts the corner-craving capabilities. Moreover, the Timsun tyres running on a 13-inch rims setup isn’t grippy; it skids over hard cornering. The dual-channel ABS with 240mm disc at the front and 220mm disc at the rear has a decent stooping bite, and feedback is also well-judged.
Keeway Vieste 300: Looks and Features
This is the segment that triumphs the case for Vieste 300. It gets a lot of nifty segment-first features that appeal to the overall desirability quotient. I have had a fair share of eyeballs on the Vieste 300 for its not-so-conventional looks. Fun fact- I have been stopped by the traffic police thrice in the span of two days, and all they enquired about was the brand and the scooter I was riding. Quite honestly, everyone out on the road, including me, admired the beautiful exclusive looks of the maxi-scooter. The dual-LED headlamps with nicely integrated DRLs give it an imposing front look. There is also a tiny windscreen, which is more aesthetically appealing than functional. The sharp lines, along with a sporty side stance, make it look big and intimidating. The plastic quality, fit-and-finish, is disappointing as it is marketed on a premium budget.
The Vieste 300 features a semi-digital LCD screen with the speedo and tacho on either side. The digital unit in the centre displays various information like trip meter, fuel level, engine temperature, speed and time. I wish it also gets distance-to-empty figures as well as Bluetooth connectivity to further. The impressive addition, though, is the inclusion of a heated grip and keyless functions. However, the practicality quotient of the heated grip remains debatable. The key fob might look unique, but it doesn’t feel upmarket. The operational aspect of the switchgear is well on point, and one will eventually get used to it later. The Vieste 300 managed to blend itself with imposing looks and rather unconventional features to lure prospective buyers.
Keeway Vieste 300: Verdict
At Rs 2.99 lakhs (ex-showroom), the Vieste 300 is undoubtedly an expensive proposition. However, it is a product that will appeal to buyers who wish to stand out with an exclusive appealing design. The 278cc engine packs a lot of punch and likes to be ridden hard. However, the suspension setup isn’t the best for Indian roads that enhance the riding experience. Moreover, the overall build quality dulls the premium experience that one would like to associate with such an expensive machine. I wish Keeway would address these shortcomings, hopefully soon. But for now, Vieste 300 is a go-to option for someone who wants a powerful scooter with a style and a desirable form factor.