BMW C 400 GT Review
The C400 GT truly puts the ‘maxi’ in maxi-scooter. It is properly huge - you have these wide seats, a tall windscreen and a big engine. But with a price that inches close to a whopping Rs 12 lakh, why would you even consider it? What makes India’s most expensive scooter so special afterall?
Why to buy it?
- Comfortable highway cruising
- Unique styling
- Unmatched bragging rights
Why to avoid it?
- Exorbitant pricing
- Could have better build quality
- Limited storage space
It’s only recently that us Indians started warming up to the idea of maxi-scooters. Until now, scooters were supposed to be compact and accessible, cheap to maintain, and not very feature-laden. Then came the Suzuki Burgman Street, the Aprilia SXR 160 and finally the Yamaha Aerox 155 that hit the ball out of the park with its creature comforts.
However, all of these are a mere reference to what we’ve been riding for a few days - the BMW C400 GT.
Now, this thing truly puts the ‘maxi’ in maxi-scooter. It is properly huge - you have these wide seats, a tall windscreen and a big engine. But with a price that inches close to a whopping Rs 12 lakh, why would you even consider it? What makes India’s most expensive scooter so special afterall?
The C400 GT is hands down the most unique and radical-looking scooter on our roads today. Hugely inspired by the CE-04 electric scooter, edgy lines and creases are the yolk of its styling. These aggressive lines run busily on the scooter’s front end, pulling your eyes towards itself, whether you like it or not.
Further, its full-LED headlamp and LED DRLs sit in an aggressive frown that reminds me of the BMW i8’s units. Approach the C400 GT from the rear and you’d be welcomed by a chunky 150 section tyre and a large, clear-glass tail lamp.
However, in its side profile, the C400 GT’s heft truly comes to light. With a wheelbase of 1559mm, and a kerb weight double that of the humble Honda Activa, the C400 GT has massive road presence. Anything that big, on two wheels is guaranteed to turn heads a full 180 degrees at all times. So you better be prepared for all the attention and the 'electric hai kya?’ question this one attracts.
There’s no denying that the C400 GT is aesthetically pleasing and premium, but that said, a closer look reveals something contrasting. There are visible and uneven panel gaps with sub-par finishing in a few areas like the front apron and on the ‘spine’. Even the look and feel of the grey plastic bits aren’t satisfying either. For a two-wheeler that costs upward of Rs 11 lakh, it leaves much more to be desired in terms of quality.
Even though the C400 GT is one of the more ‘affordable’ models in BMW Motorrad’s lineup, it pockets a decent amount of features and tech. The LED headlamp comes with an automatic function that switches between the DRL and headlamp based on ambient lighting. You get LED lighting for the tail lamp and neatly stacked LED turn signals as well. But these are just the tip of the iceberg.
The C400 GT also boasts of a 6.5-inch colour TFT screen that holds a world of information about the scooter. With the ability to connect to a smartphone as standard on the Indian model, the display can manage calls and music playback and even has a turn-by-turn navigation system. That said, this is the same screen that is also featured on the BMW F750 and F850 GS that cost way more.
In addition to a fancy display and lighting setup, the C400 GT also gets ABS and Automatic Stability Control which is essentially BMW’s traction control system that is seamless and forgiving while cutting power briefly. The list does not end there. You are also offered keyless ignition and keyless fuel filler opening along with a USB charger in the front glove box. Speaking of which, the two glove boxes it comes with are good enough to stow away a wallet, a phone, and a small water bottle too.
Now, since the GT is a maxi-scooter, it is supposed to have enough storage space to pack in a week’s worth of luggage. And with 31-litres of space under the seat, that should be a piece of cake for the C400 GT, right?
It’s only until you open up the seat you realise it isn’t...
While 31-litres might seem substantial, the design of the storage space is cluttered to accommodate the mechanical components below, which leaves barely any space. It would do good for a small laptop bag and a jacket, but that’s about it. Yes, BMW has the FlexCase which allows storing a full-face helmet easily. It offers 15-litres of additional storage but with it pushed down, the scooter will not crank up for safety reasons. One because, when opened, the FlexCase rests close to the rear tyre and two, BMW does not want one to ride sans a helmet.
The BMW C400 GT is big and burly to look at, but not daunting in any sense once seated. Then its 214kg kerb weight seems manageable. But with a wide seat that does not fully taper to the front, even its low, 775mm seat height could throw anyone under 5’7 out of their comfort zone. Nonetheless, the seat is exactly what it looks like - comfortable and plush. The rider even gets a thick, curved backrest for added support. The pillion seat feels just as accommodating and well cushioned and comes with large grab handles.
And even though there isn’t any floorboard space, the C400 GT offers ample room to move your legs. You can either place your feet in a neutral position or stretch them for a relaxed posture - both of which feel comfortable and natural while holding on to the bars. I even preferred gripping my shin into the ‘spine’ whenever I wasn’t lazily cruising down the highway - something that the C400 GT is mighty capable of. Its large windscreen buffets wind well but could be offered with adjustability to suit different rider heights.
Underneath, BMW has plonked a 350cc, water-cooled single that produces 33.5bhp. Offering 35Nm, its torque figures are also on par with most 300-350cc motorcycles on sale. The engine is married to a CVT tuned for acceleration that has the GT shooting away from standstill even with a light hand on the throttle. While the display reads triple-digit speeds quickly, the performance is delivered linearly. The scooter peaks at 7500rpm and manages a top speed of 140kmph. But there is a lack of rush you’d otherwise expect from a 350cc engine thanks to the massive weight it is pulling along.
However, all through to that point, the motor is refined and vibration-free. While a minute tingle emanates at around 100kmph on the backrest, it is faint enough to oversee. To go hand-in-hand with its performance, the C400 GT is well-balanced too. The scooter is easy to manouevre and filter through slow-moving traffic with its heft barely noticeable. Speaking of which, it is also surprisingly easy to move around and mount on the centre stand.
When it is time to attack some twisties, the C400 GT seems up for the job too. Despite its long wheelbase, the scooter feels composed around corners and will treat you to some lovely lean angles. However, the ride isn't all that plush. While the front feels pliant over most surfaces, the rear kicks back on some small-amplitude undulations in the road. But with the ability to play with preload settings, the stiff ride can be adjusted.
However, with a pillion in the equation, the C400 GT’s ride transforms into a much more balanced and settled experience, even in stock setting. The icing on the cake comes with its brakes that perform exceptionally well while offering strong feedback and bite. With everything said, it still feels like a fun scooter to be on whether it is in the city or on twisties. As they say, size does not matter!
Why should you buy it?
The C400 GT has opened up a whole other meaning for Indians to what a scooter can be. While it does the regular scooter-y bits like being convenient and easy to use in the city and offering linear, accessible performance, it also offers much more. It can cruise at 100kmph all day long while keeping you nicely cocooned in its plush seats and offering an efficiency of around 29kmpl while at it. Although, I’d not agree with the Grand Touring suffix, and call it more of a relaxed commuter. And lastly, it lists some feel-good features and a design that would appeal to many.
However, the biggest downside to the C400 GT’s package in India is its price tag. Even with its premium level of comfort, technology and eye-popping looks, the Rs 10.40 lakh price it demands, is exorbitant. It puts the C400 GT in direct contention with a field of motorcycles that have much more to give in terms of performance and features.
But with that said, its cost is also one of its biggest appeals. With that kind of asking price, BMW is targeting a whole different league of buyers - someone who already owns a luxury car or a super-premium motorcycle and wants a smaller two-wheeler to zip around town or for short intercity trips. Yes, the Aerox priced at Rs 1.55 lakh is an option too, but the exclusivity and bragging rights the C400 GT brings to the table is unparalleled.
Photos by Kaustubh Gandhi
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