It was in December last year that we had ridden Piaggio’s new maxi-scooter, the Aprilia SXR 160. It has many qualities that had really impressed us, except for one major issue – its pricing. At Rs 1.27 lakh (ex-showroom), it’s quite expensive, which is essentially the case with all Piaggio scooters in India. But now, the Italian brand has introduced its smaller version, the SXR 125, which gets identical styling, same features, and nearly the same cycle parts. It obviously runs on a smaller displacement engine. What’s important though, is that it’s around Rs 11,000 cheaper than the SXR 160.
Now, the question here is – if you’re already spending over a lakh rupee on a scooter, shouldn’t you rather spend Rs 11,000 more and go for the more powerful Aprilia SXR 160?
Or, if you’re a fan of maxi-styling and want something much more affordable, wouldn’t the Suzuki Burgman Street 125 make more sense? We try to find out the answers to these questions by spending some time with the new Aprilia SXR 125.
As I told you, the styling of the SXR 125 is identical to its 160cc iteration and we are glad for that. I mean the flamboyance that it carries is difficult to match for any other scooter in the market. Piaggio likes to call this design ‘Cross Maxi’ as it's a beautiful blend of maxi and sporty bodywork.
The front fascia of the SXR 125 is heavily inspired by Aprilia’s supersport, the RS660. It sports a wide front apron that houses a wide and sleek full-LED headlamp with DRLs and turn indicators. Typical of a maxi-scooter, it also gets a tall windscreen and a long tail section with a radical-looking LED tail lamp below a sturdy grab rail.
The Aprilia SXR 125 is decently equipped with modern features. One of the highlights is the large LCD dash that shows a lot of data in a clean layout and starts up with a dramatic animation. The list of information on offer includes a speedometer, tachometer, odometer, two trip meters, fuel gauge, fuel range, real-time fuel efficiency, a temperature indicator, and a clock. Although it’s impressive, the low placement of this unit makes it difficult to read when you're wearing a full-face helmet.
The display can also be accompanied by a Bluetooth connectivity module as an optional accessory. But it doesn't give access to navigation or message and call notifications.
Piaggio has not only bestowed it with fancy bits but there are some practical features as well. At the front, there's a lockable glove box that opens up by pushing in the key. On the inside, there are two small compartments, one of which has a USB charger. You get a luggage hook as well. The under-seat storage area has an impressive capacity of 21litres. Now, a full-face helmet won't fit in here but you can easily stuff in a half-face helmet.
As I mentioned in the beginning, it gets the same hardware as the bigger SXR 160. So it rides on 12inch alloy wheels that are shod with 120/70 section tyres at both ends. All other components like the telescopic forks, the monoshock, and the disc-drum brake combination are also the same. What's different though is that the SXR 125 gets a combined braking system, unlike the 160’s ABS.
Coming to the aspect which is different from the SXR 160- the engine. This one is powered by a 124.45cc, three-valve engine that produces 9.38bhp of power and 9.2Nm of peak torque. This is essentially the same unit that is employed in the sportier SR 125 but the tuning is slightly different depending on the weight.
The big size maxi-scooters that are available in the international markets are extremely comfortable. But that's not the case with the SXR. It's just like a regular scooter with the handlebar close to you and the footboard being pretty cramped. Even the seat could do with a slightly different design. The strange positioning of the centre hump separating the rider and pillion section results in you sliding ahead every time you brake. And if a person as tall as me (5 feet 11 inches) sits even slightly ahead, the knees brush against the front panel. I had a hard time finding the sweet spot.
As you get going, off the line, the SXR125 feels a bit lethargic but starts getting lively as the speeds rise. Roll-on acceleration is quick enough to pull off overtakes in traffic. Although it doesn't surprise you at any point, the engine feels adept to be enjoyed in the city. Once you reach the speeds of about 70kmph, it’s also comfortable staying there. And as was expected, it feels a bit sluggish as compared to its 160cc sibling, but the difference isn't substantial.
Aprilia scooters never disappoint on the handling front and the SXR 125 is no different. It responds to your steering inputs with utmost proficiency and changes directions swiftly. It's really fun to flick around in the city. May it be taking tight turns or attacking long sweeping corners, the SXR takes it all in its stride with great agility.
One of the reasons for the SXR's precise handling is its stiff suspension setup which takes a toll on its ride quality to some extent. The damping feels quite firm on almost all kinds of undulations. But thankfully, it never felt rigid enough to really hurt my back.
As quick it is in changing directions, it drops anchor equally strongly. While the front has a tremendous bite, the rear drum takes a bit of squeezing the lever. That said, the combined braking setup works flawlessly by preventing the rear wheel from locking up for the most part.
The Aprilia SXR 125 feels premium, exotic and quite special, which is the case with most of the Piaggio products. But the SXR also brings practicality into the mix with some useful features. It's also fun to ride with a fairly potent engine and amazing handling dynamics.
Where it could do better is in terms of ride quality which should have been a bit plusher. It could also do with a different seat design, an external fuel filler cap, and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.
Now, all things said and done, the Aprilia SXR 125 actually makes sense over the 160. Yes, there's a difference in engine performance but that's not to the extent that the 125 can be eliminated from the equation since this is also adequately quick for the city.
But if we were to keep the exclusivity and premium appeal aside, the Suzuki Burgman Street 125 is a maxi-styled scooter that's much more affordable and easier to live with. I mean, doesn’t it sound enticing to have better fuel efficiency, a wider service reach, and about Rs 35,000 lesser price tag than the Aprilia?