The Passion has always been the more premium brand in Hero Motocorp’s ensemble of commuters, offering stylish-looking motorcycles alongside the more utilitarian Splendor series. And in the 19 years that it has been in the market, the Hero Passion has seen a few revisions as well as variants along the way.
But, with the 2020 Passion Pro, Hero Motocorp has kicked things up a notch. So what’s new? And how much of a difference have the changes made? To find out, we spent a couple of days with the 2020 Hero Passion Pro in city traffic and on the highway. Yes, we even rode it over broken roads and loaded the motorcycle with a hefty duffle bag, because after all, it will be used as a rugged commuter isn’t it?
By the looks of it, the Hero Passion Pro is more sophisticated and premium rather than rugged. And the 2020 model, which receives a complete cosmetic makeover, is surprisingly handsome for a 110cc commuter. The redesigned headlamp cowl with the faux air-intakes is a nice touch while the angular tank extensions add flair. It also gets a reshaped rear section which features a new tail lamp design.
The entire styling of the 2020 Passion Pro is amplified by the five bold colour options and triple tone graphics it comes with. Our test bike which came in the ‘Moon Yellow’ shade managed to turn heads almost everywhere. Now, the quality of the paint is decent and so is the quality of plastic all around the motorcycle. But the same cannot be said for the fit and finish. The fitment for the seat is flimsy leaving a noticeable gap between itself and the bodywork. And even though the test bike had less than 500kms on the odo, there was a considerable amount of rust on many components already.
Apart from the new attire, the 2020 Passion Pro gets a new diamond-type frame that replaces the previous double cradle unit. This has resulted in more ground clearance, more suspension travel at both ends, and a slightly longer wheelbase- which we will get to in a bit.
As for features, Hero has updated the semi-digital instrument cluster. The orange backlit unit now displays real-time fuel efficiency apart from the odometer, trip meter, and an analogue speedometer. The Passion Pro also comes with an ‘Auto Sail’ function which essentially assists for a smoother low-speed ride. Then there is the i3S that shuts off the engine if left idle for more than four seconds. It helps save fuel at traffic stops and is easy to use too- just pull in the clutch when in neutral gear and the Passion Pro is back to life.
Overall, the motorcycle seems decently equipped for a commuter. Although the only downside to its package is the dated switchgear which is difficult to reach and operate.
The Passion Pro has a slightly sporty riding triangle for a commuter. It is neither too straight nor too bent forward; it is somewhere in between and feels just right. The tank offers excellent grip and the seat is well cushioned too. And while the seat space is good enough for an average-sized rider it might feel cramped for a larger individual.
Surprisingly, the Passion Pro’s seat offers ample amounts of space for the pillion than the rider. While the seat is comfy, the suspension feels a bit stiff on the rear when riding solo even on minor undulations and bumps in the road. On the flip side, the ride settles down substantially and feels more pliant with a pillion on board.
Now, underneath its new frame is a 113cc engine that is borrowed from the Splendor iSmart. While this fuel-injected and BS6-compliant motor is bigger than the BS4 model’s 109cc unit, the peak power has been sacrificed for a cleaner environment. However, it offers a higher torque output of 9.79Nm which comes in earlier at 5000rpm. The first two gears are short but the motor seems unfazed even at speeds as low as 25kmph in fourth- which is top gear, by the way.
So, to test its mettle even further, we decided to load the Passion Pro with a well-fed pillion plus a duffle bag weighing around 30kg and slotted it into fourth on an ascent. While it struggled a bit initially, the Passion Pro moved along calmly post 40kmph. The motorcycle finds its cruising speed at around 60-70kmph and feels stable even at higher speeds. And most important of all it manages to return around 70kmpl in city riding.
While the engine is quite tractable and efficient, it is not the most refined on the block. There is a minor buzz that emanates from the footpegs right from the start and stays put all through the rev range. But, that’s not a deal-breaker at all. Instead, it is the crude engine noise that lowers its refinement points.
Having said that, the Passion Pro’s light clutch and smooth transmission balance things out a bit. As for the braking hardware, it now gets a 240mm disc as an option that offers decent bite and feedback although the rear drum could do with some improvement.
The target audience for the Hero Passion Pro hasn’t changed with the 2020 update. It is still aimed at individuals wanting to commute with some flair. However, with the styling updates, it has much more appeal than before. To compliment the refreshed design, the Passion Pro also offers a tractable and efficient motor, comfortable seating as well as nimble handling. Furthermore, the aggressive pricing of Rs 67,940 for the top-spec disc brake variant, makes it a considerable option in its segment.
The only drawback is the finishing of the product that can be seen in the sub-standard quality of the seat, rusting on components, and the throaty-sounding engine which might draw potential buyers away to its rivals- the TVS Star City Plus and the Honda Livo which offer slightly better refinement and quality.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi