Ather 450X: First Ride Review
The Ather 450 positively disrupted the electric scooter market in India when it first arrived. With a plethora of connected features, peppy performance and good looks, it soon became the benchmark in the segment. Now, Ather wants to freshen up the 450 with the limited edition 450X and we rode it on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Here are our thoughts:
The way it looks
The Ather 450X looks almost identical to the 450 before save for the new colours. The 450X can be had in space grey, mint green and the white previously seen on the 450. The space grey colour variant stands out accentuating the simple, clean design language that Ather prides itself on. There are bright yellow accents all over the Ather 450X that certainly do their bit in bringing out the starkness of the grey in the scooter. That aside it's hard to tell the 450X from the 450 apart from the badging.
Ather is easily eons ahead of its competitors when it comes to their batteries and Battery management system and they have gone ahead and made it even better. Gone are the old 16350 cells and in come new 21700 cells that even Tesla is using in it's new Model 3s. The shift to newer cells has meant higher charge densities and the 450X holds more charge and subsequently has higher range(as much as 10km). The motor too has been improved upon, and the updated power now stands at 6kW while the torque stands at 26Nm. Improvements in the BMS as a result of lakhs of kilometers worth of data has made the 450x far more efficient too. Additionally, the improved capabilities of the motor and battery has prompted Ather to add in a new mode called Warp mode. Like, its namesake in Tesla's cars, Warp mode unlocks the most performance from the drivetrain, and as a result initial acceleration is better than any other scooter in the market(0-40kmph comes up in 3.29 seconds). Also, the strong wave of torque when you start from a standstill is something that has to be felt to be believed. Range however falls sharply in Warp mode, and we could manage roughly 50km on it.
Ride and handling
Ather has worked considerably on the ride and handling of the 450X and having ridden the two back to back, differences are quite evident. Ather claims that they have lost a large amount of weight(11kg) at the front resulting in a front end that is much sharper. The Ather turns in easily and smoothly. The handle too inspires confidence, is not overly light and as a result you don't have to make too many corrections even while accelerating hard in Warp mode. The mostly-aluminium construction has resulted in a lightweight chassis that makes the 450X feel very agile indeed. The suspension is still on the firmer side but isn't uncomfortable at all. In fact it does deal with bumps and undulations rather well. The underlying firmness however, does make it a joy to ride and enthusiastic riding is rewarded with the 450X' low lying battery weight ensuring that you can push harder and harder.
Ather claims that the vast amounts of data that they collect both from the customers as well as the scooters have helped them in understanding customer needs, expectations and usage patterns. With learnings from that, they are adding a host of new features. Stand out features include dark mode, auto turn off indicators, a 4G e-Sim, Bluetooth and Wifi, and a switch to Android from Linux.The 450X that we rode was a pre-production model and we could not test the software. Ather assures us that the full feature set will be available by the time it hits streets in July.
The Ather 450X has a number of incremental updates over the 450 and on the whole, it makes for a substantially better scooter. Without a doubt, it is the scooter that anyone on the lookout for something sporty will appreciate. However, these added improvements come at a cost. Ather is offering the 450X with two pricing options and in two variants. You can get the Ather 450X by paying Rs 99,000 upfront and a monthly payment of Rs. 1699 or Rs. 1999 for the Plus(5.4kW power and 22Nm torque) or Pro variant. Alternatively you can get the Ather 450X for a flat price of Rs. 1.49 lakh for the Plus and Rs. 1.59 lakh for the Pro. There is a rider though, even with the flat prices, you still have to shell out Rs. 400 every month for data transmission costs. Price aside, the Ather 450X, is clearly the best electric scooter in the market right now.