• 2021 Aprilia SR 160: First Ride Review

Proven scooter in a refreshed package just about sums it up

You could term sporty scooters in India a misnomer. Most are dolled up with sharper bodywork but sit on commuter underpinnings and a powertrain aimed at frugality rather than outright performance. There are exceptions though, like the SR 160. The sporty scooter has remained fundamentally unchanged since the time it was the SR 150. Large wheels with wide tyres, sporty suspension, powerful motor and strong brakes. These made for a fun scooter that caught the fancy of the enthusiast and college kids who fell for the sharp bodywork and racy graphics. Aprilia seems to want to broaden the SR 160's customer base with this mid-life facelift. Does it manage to hit the nail on the head again?

One thing is for certain, the new headlamp and livery give the SR 160 a more premium vibe. It features a larger headlamp now with inset LED DRLs and LED lighting. These look expensive though we can't comment on the performance given the short time we spent with the scooter during the daytime. The other styling bit I liked was the faux carbon fibre finish on the front mudguard and instrument console surround. At the back, the scooter gets an X-shaped tail lamp that's a head-turner. Other than these updates, the bodywork remains unchanged and the SR 160 is still quite a looker. Fit and finish levels are quite good, we did have issues slotting the key in the ignition and seat slot. It is an issue we have faced with every Aprilia scooter since the days of the SR 150. 

It now gets a reprofiled seat that now looks like a split seat. It offers a wide perch but tapers quite a bit towards the front. The seat felt a tad small for my 5ft 8inch frame but could be comfortable for shorter riders. Even the floorboard is narrow and the front apron eats into the space so you might have trouble placing a cabin bag in there. The under-seat storage space is decent enough and gets an in-built charger as well. It still gets an under-seat fuel filler cap in a day and age where 125cc scooters feature external fuel fillers. 

A major update is the large and comprehensive digital instrument console shared with the SXR 160. Besides the speedometer and tachometer, shows the fuel efficiency and range as well. It does not get Bluetooth connectivity which we feel is a miss. You do get Bluetooth as a Rs 2,500 optional extra which is disappointing given that 125cc scooters get Bluetooth connectivity as standard fitment nowadays. 

The 160cc powertrain has been retained. As part of the BS6 update, the powertrain was enlarged and received fuel injection. It delivers 11PS and 11.6Nm. One immediately noticeable trait is the initial refinement and smoothness of the power delivery as you get off the line. It still isn't as refined as other scooters out there though as a distinct resonance can be felt through the floorboards between 4,000 and 5,000rpm. It is a spunky motor and gets to speeds of 80kmph in double-quick time. The SR 160 masks speed quite well, you won't notice that you are doing 80kmph until you look at the speedo. It still impresses with its performance and ability to sustain highway speeds. 

The suspension has been carried over though we wished Aprilia had given this area a look over. Earlier SR 150's were notorious for their harsh ride quality and this one is no different. Road imperfections are felt via judders on your wrists and lower back. The pillion won't like it either and may end up unfriending you if ridden through a rough patch of road. While the stiff ride offers excellent handling traits, I feel a bit of pliancy in the suspension would help keep the front wheel from shuddering especially if you are aggressively cornering on less than perfect tarmac. 

We are glad that Aprilia has continued with the brake format. The front disc and rear drum setup on the 14-inch wheels and 120-section tyres offer fantastic bite and feedback. Even the new Ceat Zoom Plus tyres offer impressive grip in dry conditions. 

Priced at Rs 1.17 lakh, the SR 160 costs Rs 11,500 more than its predecessor. That feels a tad expensive just for the LED lighting, digital console and minor updates. That said, the Aprilia SR is still substantially more affordable than its only competitor, the Yamaha Aerox 155 which retails for Rs 1.29 lakh. While the new styling is bound to attract a more mature set of buyers, we feel that Aprilia missed a chance to improve on a few points while working on the SR 160's facelift. One primary grouse is the harsh ride quality which could put off potential buyers. 

That said, the SR 160 offers good performance, looks fantastic and is reasonably feature-packed. It remains one of the sportiest scooters on sale in India though and a scooter that's on top of the college goer's Christmas list. 

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