Ather 450X Road Test Review: Living with India’s Superhero of electric scooters

Ather 450X is more of an ownership experience that will surely change your perception of electric scooters in India. We recently spent one and a half week with it to bring some interesting revelations!

By:May 6, 2021 1:41 PM

 

Electric scooters in India have come a long, really long way. Until a few years back, the tale of the Indian electric scooter segment was all about slow and boring-looking 25 kmph scooters. Fast forward to current times and you have so many premium options out there in the market, some of which can even put a conventional 125 cc scooter to shame. Now, if there is one manufacturer that essentially led the foundation of this space in India, well, it has to be Ather Energy. And every time we ride the 450X, we do get a broad smile on our faces. And for the very first time, we got a chance to spend over 10 days with this beauty! So in this review, I’ll be revealing some real-world numbers of the Ather 450X, how it is to live with an EV, the ownership costs, and also, should you happily pay the premium pricing that it demands?

All EVs are boring-looking? Think again!

First, the way it looks! And if you ask me in one word, well, it’s absolutely ‘delightful’ in its own way. The Ather 450X looks sharp and sleek and this one is hands down the sportiest-looking electric scooter that you can buy in India at present. Also, the Space Grey paint scheme, which by the way has the highest demand among the customers is our personal favorite too and this colour certainly looks great with the yellow highlights and of course, bare minimum graphics. Overall, the scooter looks compact and while at first, you might think it is tiny, well it can easily seat two in comfort. The seat is wide and well-cushioned and even the pillion was at ease most of the time.

The attention to detail is just outstanding and the quality levels seem great too. The Ather 450X gets a massive 22-litre under-seat storage that can accommodate most of your belongings and a full-size helmet can also fit in without much hassle. Moreover, you get a couple of smart spaces that can store some additional bits whenever a need arises and there is a smart-looking LED boot light as well.

Some noteworthy visual highlights include a sleek side stand that seamlessly merges into the body every time you close it. Moreover, the inverted U-shaped tail lamp looks great in the dark, and the turn indicators which are an extension of the same look a class apart too!

The Super Smart Cockpit

Now, coming to one of the most interesting bits. The Ather 450X comes with a 7-inch LCD touchscreen that offers information in plenty. The home screen displays everything from trip details to the remaining battery percentage, range, and the selected mode. Speaking of which, the 450X comes with four riding modes namely Eco, Ride, Sport & Warp and their performance and real-time range is something that I will come to in a bit. Now, in order to select a mode, you can either use the touchscreen or toggle through the switch on the right side. And hey, there is a reverse mode as well that lets the scooter crawl backward with the twist of the throttle at under 5 kmph. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Ather recently rolled out its 13th OTA update – Atherstack Atom that gives you the liberty to control music from the dashboard and also accept or reject calls. Also, keeping rider’s safety in mind, Ather has given the option of handling calls by long-pressing the start button and then using the indicator switch to accept or reject a call. Moreover, you can play, pause and jump between tracks when the scooter is stationary. Both these features make the most sense when you have Bluetooth headphones ON.

The response of the touchscreen is simply brilliant and up to the mark and in fact, you will actually feel that you are operating a tablet or a smartphone. Yes, it is that smooth! Moreover, it is IP67 rated so no worries during monsoons. The touch response certainly lags a bit with the water droplets but one wipe and it’s all sorted! Another big highlight of this instrument cluster is navigation. The experience is seamless and thanks to an inbuilt 4G sim card, there is hardly any lag during real-time wayfinding and the feature worked fine even in some low connectivity areas. Interestingly, the cockpit also shows EV efficiency in Wh/km that denotes the energy used to move the vehicle for a distance of 1 km.

Watch video | Ather 450X in-depth review with real-world findings:

The name is X. 450X. But does it have the X-Factor?

Ather 450X gets an 8 hp electric motor coupled with a 2.9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The company claims it to be the quickest scooter in the country with a 0 to 40 kmph time of 3.3 seconds. Not only did the 450X stayed true to this during our tests but delivered almost similar timing with a pillion on board with a 50 percent battery charge. Now, coming to what all the four modes offer, starting with the Eco mode, this one is meant to offer the maximum range and hence, the acceleration and top speed take a back seat. The pick-up isn’t jaw-dropping and you can relate this mode to riding a conventional 110cc scooter. Switch to Ride mode and the acceleration and top speed get better. This mode is quite apt for city rides as you get a decent balance between range and adequate performance.

Watch video | Ather 450X Acceleration and Top Speed tested in all four modes:

Next up is the Sport mode. Switch to this and you will realize why Ather is among the best in the business. The surge and the pull are impressive and a quick sprint off the line at traffic signals will only leave other two-wheelers in your rearview mirror. And here comes, our favourite one – Warp Mode! This mode offers blistering performance and transforms this electric scooter into a silent little pocket rocket. In order to put things into perspective, such acceleration can only be experienced on over 150cc bikes.

While you get off the line, the whining of the electric motor and the quick acceleration actually gives you this feeling for a bit that you are sitting in a fighter jet that is shooting down on a runway for its takeoff. In this mode, the scooter reaches its top speed almost effortlessly and the best part is that all the performance numbers were almost intact even when the battery charge dropped down to 15 percent.

Below are the acceleration and top speed figures in each mode during our tests, with and without a pillion:

 

Handle with Care? Not!

Ather 450X comes with a near 50:50 weight distribution (49:51 to be precise) and a low center of gravity, all thanks to which you get great handling & ride characteristics along with super flickability. The scooter feels balanced at all times and be it cruising down the streets at higher speeds or leaning on fast corners, the 450X doesn’t seem to deviate from its line. The suspension is set on a stiffer side and while it does a decent job of gulping down the usual undulations with ease, you will need to be a little cautious over seriously broken surfaces and speed breakers. The build quality is great and the best part is that even after rigorously testing the 450X for a few days over not-so-smooth roads, no rattling of body panels was observed that usually happens in the case of many electric scooters.

The overall ride quality is brilliant and the stability levels are reasonably good despite the fact that the scooter gets small 12-inch wheels. The stopping power delivered by the dual disc brakes is really commendable and these are certainly among the best set-ups that I have experienced on an electric scooter. The feel at the lever and the sharp bite makes sure that the scooter comes to a halt whenever you want it to. This together with the Combined Braking System gives you all the confidence but as the rear tends to lock up during aggressive braking, you need to stay a bit cautious during panic braking.

The Charging Ecosystem

The density of Ather’s network of fast chargers, called Ather Grid is increasing across the country with each city set to get at least 10-15 of these in which the company is currently present or is aiming to be in. You can locate your nearest public charging station through the navigation tab on the touchscreen. The fast chargers can charge the scooter at the rate of 1.5 km/minute (till 80 percent charge) and hence, a quick 10-minute charge would be good enough to give you a range of 15 km. During our tests, a full charge on an Ather Grid took around 90 minutes.

Here is the real-time range achieved during our tests in all four modes:

Moreover, the company is offering multiple charging solutions with the scooter. Ather Dot or home charger is included in the cost of the scooter and the same can be installed in your parking or wherever you want it to. Also, in case you require a portable charger, you can have it as an optional accessory and the same can easily fit in your scooter’s under-seat storage. Charging our test scooter through a non-fast charger took 3 hour 35 minutes for a 0 to 80 percent charge and around 5 hour 30 minutes for a full 0 to 100 percent juice up.

Also, as a safety and anti-theft feature, while charging, the charger doesn’t come out when the key is in handle lock or off position, and hence, no one would be able to steal your scooter while it is left for say, overnight charging. Also, you can remotely keep a check on the charging status of your scooter, locate it and get all the ride details via the Ather mobile app.

Cost of Charging, Installation, and Portable Charger

Charging through Ather Grid is absolutely free of cost for all customers till September 2021 after which you need to pay a charging fee depending on how much you charge your scooter. In order to make the payment, you will need to scan the QR code on Ather Grid through the Ather app on your phone. Talking of home charging, it takes 3 kWh or three units of electricity to charge the scooter fully from 0 to 100 percent. This means that the cost to fully charge your scooter every time should come out to be around Rs 20 depending on the electricity rate in your city. While a portable charger will cost you Rs 10,950 including GST, the standard installation charge for Ather Dot by the company at your place is Rs 1,800.

Ather 450X India Price and Verdict

The Ather 450X is currently priced at Rs 1.47 lakh (including subsidies, Ather Dot) in New Delhi. Now the big question is – Should you spend one and a half lakh rupees for an electric scooter? Well, there is no denying that it’s a great deal but at the same time, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. Living with an electric in India currently has its own set of demerits with the biggest reason being, the charging infrastructure that is still very much in the nascent stages. For instance, Delhi currently has only three fast-charging stations for Ather 450X and there is a good chance that these are not in your close proximity.

Also, as the battery on this scooter is not detachable, you still need to figure out a way to charge it if you don’t live on the ground floor of your building and don’t have dedicated parking either. So, if these are the things that you can learn to deal with, then the Ather 450X is without a doubt an excellent preposition. The company is also offering the flexibility of ownership to the customers and there are multiple plans from subscription to financing and a lot more. And there is also the buyback option that promises a refund of Rs 85,000 if you return the scooter after three years. This sounds great as you won’t be getting such a resale value otherwise for any two-wheeler.

Ather Connectivity Plans (Prices mentioned above are for a quarter)

Yearly Plans –
Ather Connect Lite
– Rs 1,500/year
Ather Connect Pro – Rs 2,400/year

Ather Service Plans (Prices mentioned above are for a quarter)

Yearly Plans –
Ather Service Lite
– Rs 2,400/year
Ather Service Pro – Rs 3,600/year

So, to sum it up, the Ather 450X is arguably the best electric scooter in India at present. It’s super quick, it’s fast, it’s good-looking, and loaded with features to the brim. And you can even do burnouts on this one. How cool is that?! That said, if you are planning to enter the EV ecosystem with a premium offering and are tired of seeing Chinese knock-off electric scooters, the Ather 450X is one offering that you should definitely consider. It’s an indigenously developed product that is well thought of and feels complete just like an ICE-powered product from any of the leading manufacturers. And while doing many things that a petrol scooter can’t do, it also promises lots of money-saving in the long run.

The future is certainly electric!

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