Looks really good, doesn’t it?
Looks really good, doesn’t it?Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Aprilia SXR 160 first ride review

We first saw the Aprilia SXR 160 at the 2020 Auto Expo. 10 months down the line, we finally get astride and here’s what we think of it

There’s no dearth of run-of-the-mill scooters in India. If you decide to buy one right now, you have so many options that you will end up short listing at least a dozen. However, Aprilia always stood-out by offering unique and enthusiast-friendly offerings and yet again, the brand is on the verge of introducing something out-of-the-box — the SXR 160 maxi-scooter. Okay, we have seen maxi-scooters in the past, and the Suzuki Burgman Street still exists, but what makes the SXR 160 special is that Aprilia has taken the engine of the SR 160 — India’s fastest scooter — and added to the mix a head-turning design along with ergonomics tweaks that make it more friendly.

Does it look like a maxi-scooter?

It definitely does!. It gets a lot of mass compared to regular scooters thanks to bulky panels all around. It’s tastefully executed and looks uber-cool, unlike the disproportional Burgman Street. Upfront there’s an LED headlamp with an output of 1000 lumens. We didn’t ride the SXR 160 at night, so an update on the headlamps shall follow in the weeks to come. There’s also a dark windscreen and a massive digital instrument cluster that’s easy-to-read. It is larger than anything that we have seen on scooters so far and includes a tachometer, real-time fuel efficiency numbers, ambient temperature and top speed, trip meters and more. A Bluetooth enabled screen is also available as an accessory. Overall, in the flesh, the SXR 160 looks exceptionally attractive, and it’s hard to avoid a second glance when it is passing by.

Cluster is quite informative. Bluetooth is an accessory
Cluster is quite informative. Bluetooth is an accessoryShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

It also scores big on practicality. There’s a storage box upfront that can necessities like your phone, wallet and keys and there’s also a USB charging port. The underseat stowage is inadequate for a full-size helmet although flexible items like a college bag can certainly be squeezed in.

Gets a neatly designed glovebox with USB charging
Gets a neatly designed glovebox with USB chargingShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Does it feel like a maxi-scooter?

Hop on to the scooter and the ergonomics make you feel at home. You’re seated upright and the handler at reaches out to you, just as expected. There are no stretched-out footrests though, like on the Burgman Street. Aprilia has worked on the SR 160’s chassis to achieve this; the steering geometry is lazier and the handlebar is new as well. The rear-end too had been modified to accommodate the large grabrail and seat. The seat also deserves a mention for its ample cushioning and its ability to seat two comfortably without feeling like a squeeze. With our six-foot tall principal correspondent Abhishek riding pillion, both of us enjoyed ample space and unlike on some scooters, my elbows were far from touching his knees.

Moving on to the powertrain, the SXR 160 shares the engine with the SR 160, meaning it gets the same 160.3cc BS6 motor that pumps 10.8bhp and 11.6Nm of torque. The ECU has been retuned for improved bottom and mid which clearly helps. The performance is nippy and the SXR 160 is eager to go fast the moment you whack the throttle open. However, compared to its sibling, the throttle response feels mildly subdued, but that in turn bodes well with its relatively relaxed intentions. It will cruise effortlessly between 70-80kmph and even at our shoot location that comprised plenty of steep inclines, this engine packed ample punch to power us past the twisties.

The SR 160 is revered for its zestful performance, however there’s one aspect where it falters and that’s its stiff ride. The SXR 160 improves significantly on this front thanks to its relatively softer suspension set-up that makes it more comfortable around the city. The ride is still firm, but never does it unsettle you or leave you wanting for a better set-up. When you see a broken patch of road, you can simply twist your wrist and let the suspension take care of the rest. The telescopic front and the adjustable monoshock do a great job of absorbing the surface undulations at city and highway speeds both.

The front-end feels a bit vague on the SXR 160
The front-end feels a bit vague on the SXR 160Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

While the ride quality is great, there’s a chink in the SXR 160’s handling that is its vague front-end. The front feels overtly light and robs you of the confidence that other Piaggio scooters instil in abundance. On the upside, the 12-inch tyres wrapped around MRF Zapper rubber provide ample grip thanks to a wide contact patch on the road.

Is it worth considering then? Well, it’s not perfect. We hoped for Bluetooth to be standard and the quality of switchgear to be better. But on a positive note, it’s arguably the best-looking scooters out there and when it comes to comfort and practicality, it’s certainly a better proposition compared to its hardcore sibling. Now Aprilia isn’t known for aggressive pricing, but if they manage to price it competitively, there’s no reason why we couldn’t recommend the SXR 160. We expect it to cost roughly in the ball park of Rs 1.15-20 lakh.

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