The C 400 GT attempts to reignite the maxi-scooter segment in India. Does it have what it takes?
My first rendezvous with a maxi-scooter happened in 2013, when as part of my engineering submission, I used a Kinetic Blaze as a donor vehicle for our project go-kart. Little did I know back then, that I was erasing what was a tiny part of the Indian two-wheeler history - maxi-scooters. Yes, maxi-scooters were sold in India from the early 2000s.
Kinetic started the trend in India with its 165cc Blaze and at one point Aprilia even tried selling an 850cc SRV maxi-scooter here. Today, you have the Suzuki Burgman Street, the Aprilia SXR160 that loosely defines the term and the Yamaha Aerox 155 which is the closest to offering you that maxi-scooter feel. The most prolific one though is the BMW C400 GT.
The Bavarians launched the C 400 GT last year and this maxi-scooter now retails for Rs 10.40 lakh ex-showroom making it the most expensive scooter on sale in India. Does the C 400 GT do justice to its price tag?
Thanks to the internet being omnipresent, people seemed to recognise the BMW scooter in even the most remote parts I ventured and more interestingly, at first glance. I guess it is due to the futuristic styling, especially the front end with the large headlamp array and windscreen that looks quite space age.
The large body panels come together cohesively and nothing feels out of place despite the large proportions. It looks fantastic in Alpine White paint scheme and I quite like the silver body panel on the apron that looks distinctive.
The headlamps remind me of the ones on current BMW cars, especially the LED DRLs that look quite similar to the new facelift 5 series – a plus in my books.
Hopping onto the rider’s seat is cumbersome as the 12.8-litre fuel tank sits along the spine and ahead of the seat. While it means I can’t park my bag in the footwell, fuel filling is convenient thanks to the remote fuel-filler cap.
The instrument console is the same unit which was available on the BMW F750GS and the F850GS. The 6.5-inch screen is almost the right size which suits the bulkiness of the scooter. The display is crisp and easy to read and there was no lag whatsoever while we toggled through different settings. However, the instrument cluster offers an ‘Urban’ setting which can be misunderstood for riding modes; however, that only shows the tachometer as the scooter misses out on riding modes which is a miss at this price point.
Shuffling through the menus is easy and can be done while on the go. The menu can be scrolled through the handlebar ring which is positioned next to the left switchgear. The overall quality of the switchgear is very upmarket and the clicks are sure and confident.
A highlight of the scooter is the wide stepped seat. It offers just the right amount of cushioning to make long rides comfortable. At 775mm, while the seat height might seem low, the width of the scooter meant I could not comfortably place both feet on the ground when sitting on it. BMW does offer a seat lowering kit that drops seat height by 15mm.
Hopping onto the higher-set rear seat is bothersome but once onboard, it is quite wide and comfortable. The floorboard is long enough for you to switch your feet position and with the seat, makes the scooter quite touring friendly
Another impressive aspect is the storage space. Under the large seat are two storage areas that might look shallow but at a click of a button, the rear storage expands downward enough to hold a full-size helmet – BMW calls this feature the ‘Flex Case’. However the expanding storage fouls with the rear wheel which means you can fully utilise the space only when the scooter is stationary and the scooter won’t start if the Flex Case is not closed.
The front apron gets two lockable glove compartments that are large enough to hold your smartphones and charge them too via the inbuilt USB charger.
The large LED tail lamp with integrated turn-indicators are well executed and the C 400 GT looks proportional from the rear as well. In typical BMW fashion, the C 400 GT impresses with its high quality components and fit-finish levels which is comparable to premium motorcycles.
It impresses with the feature list as well. The scooter gets a crisp colour TFT screen that is quite similar to the ones found on larger BMW motorcycles. It impresses with its resolution and comprehensive display that in true GS style can be accessed through a circular ring on the left handlebar grip. The keyless ignition is another cool feature and means you do not require a key to unlock the glove boxes, underseat storage or even the fuel filler cap.
The C 400 GT is the highest capacity engine scooter sold in India. Its 350cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder mill delivers 35PS and 35Nm which are at par with its sibling, the BMW G 310 R. The scooter gets a CVT transmission that feels responsive and helps it get off the line rapidly. Despite the heft, the performance is impressive and with the throttle pinned, the C 400 GT reaches its 140kmph top speed in a surprisingly short span of time. Performance is on par with 250-300cc motorcycles! The CVT is well attuned to the motor and exhibits almost none of the ‘rubber-band’ effect. In traffic, the smooth throttle response thanks to the ride-by-wire throttle makes it easy to ride and coupled with the linear power delivery should not intimidate newer riders. It gets traction control which does not feel intrusive when it kicks in. Given the premium pricing, we would have liked some more rider aids such as ride modes, cruise control and more importantly, hill-hold assist.
The handlebar is slightly canted towards the rider and coupled with a long wheelbase, riding position feels a bit awkward especially in corners and while making U-turns. Ben advised me to ride the C 400 GT like a cruiser which helped get more used to it. The C 400 GT’s rider triangle is closer to a big-bike and takes getting used to.
It takes getting used to the large visor. While it does a fantastic job of blocking windblast, the brim of the visor is directly into the field of vision which can get distracting. An adjustable visor will surely help here.
Get it moving and there is no escaping the fact that it is a large and heavy scooter. The 214kg kerb weight and long wheelbase can feel intimidating to the novice rider. Get past crawling speed though and the C 400 GT impresses with its ability to shrink itself in traffic. While the steering is on the heavier side, cutting through traffic is surprisingly easy given the maxi-scooter dimensions.
The C 400 GT is planted at speeds and once you get past the initial hesitance, it is quite stable in corners no doubt helped by the long wheelbase and wider 120-section front and 150-section rear tyre. It gets conventional forks and dual preload adjustable shock absorbers that offer a plush ride at low speeds making it quite the comfortable scooter.
The front twin-disc and rear single disc setup delivers impressive stopping power with a lot of feedback through the levers. The dual-channel ABS is non-intrusive and does a good job of helping keep speeds in check. Even the 14-inch front and 15-inch rear Pirelli tyres impress too with the high levels of grip on offer
At Rs 10.40 lakh (ex-showroom), there is escaping the fact that the BMW C 400 GT is expensive!. While one could say that the high price tag gets you a higher capacity scooter, that is like buying the iPhone 13 Pro for gaming laptop money. The high price is of-course due to the C 400 GT being bought via the CBU route which attracts exorbitant taxes and duties. And given the low numbers, it is highly unlikely BMW would get it here via the CKD route. That’s a shame really as the C 400 GT is quite an impressive maxi-scooter that has a lot going for it and if priced right, can make enthusiasts (and other maxi-scooter manufacturers) show interest in the segment. As it stands, the BMW C 400 GT remains the reserve of a privileged few.