Aprilia SR 160 Review
Is it worth that additional premium of Rs 11,000 over its outgoing iteration? Let’s find out.
Scooters are usually associated with convenience, ease of riding, and everyday usability in India. However, there are certain exceptions that bring fun and excitement to the mix, and the Aprilia SR 160 is one such example.
It had started its life with a 150cc engine in 2016. This was followed by a bump of 10cc during the BS6 transition last year, besides the introduction of new graphics. However, Piaggio had left all the other aspects of the scooter majorly unchanged, until now. For 2021, the Italian brand has rolled out the facelifted version of the SR160 with a couple of revisions in terms of design and features, and with a price hike of around Rs 11,000.
So is it worth that additional premium over its outgoing iteration? Let’s find out.
The most prominent change has come in the form of a slightly altered design. A minor nip and tuck have been executed in the front end by bestowing the apron with more angular lines and deeper contours. At the back, the single-piece seat has been replaced by what looks like a split seat but is a single-piece unit with a cut at the centre. Piaggio has also included a larger and more angular grab rail. The result is an overall profile that looks slightly sportier and more muscular than before.
The new SR 160 also gets a re-designed headlamp which accommodates a high-lumen LED headlight and DRLs now; a departure from the previous halogen setup. And not just that, the previous rather simple-looking tail lamp has now been replaced by a radical 'X' shaped unit which only adds to its visual appeal.
The SR 160 was quite basic in terms of features but Piaggio has upped the ante with this version. Gone is the older semi-digital console and it has made way for a new large LCD unit. Well, it's not really new because this is the same display we have seen in the SXR 160. This is a comprehensive unit that shows a lot of data and is also easily legible. Although it doesn't get Bluetooth connectivity as standard, you can have it for an additional cost of Rs 2,500.
The SR 160 has been left majorly untouched on the mechanical front. It continues to be powered by the same 160.03cc, air-cooled, three-valve engine that churns out 10.84bhp of power and 11.6Nm of peak torque. Facilitating it with taut handling and stability are the same 14-inch alloy wheels accompanied by telescopic forks and a preload-adjustable monoshock. A disc-drum combination handles the braking chores.
Starting with seating comfort, the Aprilia SR 160 offers a traditional upright riding stance that never feels uncomfortable. The seat might feel a bit firm initially but softens a bit after spending a few minutes on it.
The engine of the SR 160 is still one of the strongest traits of this scooter. It's so much different from most of the easy-going scooters we see on the road and offers a decently quick and punchy performance. The SR 160 is fairly quick off the line and keeps pulling away cleanly at city speeds. It's pretty fun to ride in the city due to brisk low-end acceleration but the pull tapers off as you get past 60-70kmph. Also, under hard acceleration, be ready for some harsh vibrations on the footboard.
The scooter can even cruise at around 80kmph on the highway without much stress on the engine. But overtaking at this speed requires a lot of planning and contemplation. The whole riding experience is accentuated by the throaty and rough exhaust note which gives it a character of its own.
Complementing its potent engine is the sharp handling of the SR 160. Reiterating what has already been said so many times before — the handling of this scooter is quite close to a motorcycle. That’s mainly because of its rigid chassis and large 14-inch wheels. The SR is light on its feet and changes directions pretty quickly. Most of our time spent with the scooter was in the city where it hugely impressed us with its agility. Although we couldn't show it some nice tight and sweeping corners, we are sure it will be pretty engaging and enjoyable there as well.
And when it's time to stop the scooter, the brakes of the SR turn out to be very proficient for the job. The front brake has tremendous bite and sheds speed in no time. Even the ABS kicks in at appropriate times. This is coupled with a fantastic feel from the lever. It's almost the same story with the rear brake as well, which offers a great balance of bite and progression.
The stiff ride quality of the SR was a major issue back in its BS4 form. Then with the BS6 transition, Piaggio worked on making it a bit plusher. However, it continues to be uncomfortable as the road conditions deteriorate. As the scooter goes over sharp bumps, rumblers, or deep potholes, all the shock is transferred to your back for the most part. Even increasing the speed doesn't help. As for the front, it feels even more jarring and crude, hampering the overall ride.
In the quest of giving the SR 160 a sporty and minimalist look, Aprilia has compromised on the utility front. The footboard of the scooter continues to be a cramped unit and it's difficult to accommodate things like a backpack with your feet occupying most of the space. And the under-seat storage space isn't very impressive either. But on the positive side, Piaggio has installed a boot lamp and a USB charger under the seat.
The Aprilia SR 160 was already an exciting and unique product. It incorporates a powerful engine, its handling is sharp and precise, and the brakes are phenomenal. And with the new updates, it has become even more desirable. It’s undoubtedly priced on the higher side, more so after the recent hike which is substantial. But then Piaggio has always intended to place its products on the premium side of the spectrum.
Unfortunately, there’s some bitterness in the whole recipe. The scooter is so focused on delivering fun and excitement, that it demands you to compromise on convenience and practicality like a comfortable ride and enough storage space. To conclude, the SR 160 is majorly for those riders whose requirements and intentions are very clear — to own an outright sport scooter.
Photography by Kapil Angane
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