The Passion brand was supposed to replace the Splendor when it was launched many years ago. But the Indian market liked this entry-level bike so much that it went on to become the second highest selling bike brand for Hero MotoCorp. Over the last few years, many manufacturers have tried to dethrone the Passion range but were unsuccessful. Hero MotoCorp found out that the Indian buyers were upgrading themselves to a higher displacement and that’s when it decided to give the Passion Pro a new 110cc heart.
The 110cc motor! The Passion Pro gets its power from this new 110cc single-cylinder air-cooled motor that was first introduced in the Splendor 110 iSmart. This engine churns out 9.4bhp at 7500rpm and peak torque of 9Nm at 5500rpm and is mated to a four-speed gearbox. Just like most of the mass market Hero products, the 2018 Passion Pro too benefits from the fuel saving i3S (idle start-stop system). Hero claims that this new bike offers 12 per cent more power and torque over its predecessors. The bike can do 0-60kmph in 7.65 seconds. Interestingly, Hero MotoCorp didn’t have a fuel efficiency figure to tell the media which makes us believe that the final fuel tests are yet to be concluded.
In terms of design, the Gurgaon-based manufacturer has put in some efforts to make it look little more appealing. During a research, the Indian buyers said that the old Passion Pro was looking skinny and didn’t have the right road presence. So Hero has tried to fix it by giving it slightly bigger body components. So the fuel tank is larger, so is the headlamp unit. The side panels have got revised styling too. The overall design language hasn’t been touched as it is widely accepted. But the company did experiment it with new paint schemes and decals.
Hero hasn’t done anything to its instrument cluster. It’s still the same part digital-analogue unit that does a decent job of showing ride data. The braking duties is taken care of by a disc brake in the front and drum brake at the rear. At the time of launch, there will be a drum brake variant as well which will be Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 cheaper than the disc brake model. The suspension has been borrowed from the older Passion, telescopic in the front and dual shock absorbers at the rear. For the first time, Hero has provided space under the seat for optional mobile charger.
The ride feel
We got a chance to ride the 2018 Passion Pro for a brief moment. Being a bike that will be widely used in the semi-urban and rural markets, the low and mid-range of the Passion Pro have been well tuned. Most of these buyers don’t like to shift gears often. So 25kmph in fourth gear is possible on the new Passion Pro. There’s decent grunt as well, which takes care of the extra pillion load. The motor feels smooth in the low revs, but as you go higher on the revs, the handlebar, footpegs and fuel tank gets buzzy and that was the same story with the Splendor 110 iSmart.
While the Passion Pro does get disc brake at the front, the tuning has been mellowed down so that the bite isn’t too strong for the rider. Unfortunately, with pillion rider and good speed, this front brake setup is a disappointing one. The rear, however, provides decent stopping power. There were some bad patches enroute which revealed the ride quality of the new Passion Pro, soft and accommodating. But we’ll get you a detailed review of the bike once we get it for longer duration.
It’s little difficult to provide a verdict on the 2018 Passion Pro as the prices aren’t out yet. But expect Hero to ask marginally more for this bike and people will be ready to pay for it because for one simple reason, it’s a Hero product that comes with five years warranty.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi