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TVS Motor: Of facelifts and nosejobs

S. Muralidhar

IT TOOK its own time to recognise the shift in market preference towards four-stroke technology in two wheelers, but TVS Motors (post-Suzuki split) has managed to swing back with one winner in the Victor and a decent performer in the Fiero. Now, after the Fiero's sales seemed to slacken, the company is attempting to refresh its looks and appeal with the Fiero F2. Further, with a view to tapping into the booming gearless scooterrette market, TVS Motors has launched the new Scooty Pep.

The reworked Fiero and the Scooty Pep are the products of customer feedback and actual market experience for TVS Motors. Both are aimed at offering that bit more for the customers in their respective segments. And in many ways, both will find the going tough due to the highly competitive segments they are in.

Scooty Pep

The Scooty Pep comes with a 75cc, four-stroke engine that pumps out 4.1 bhp of power compared to the Honda Activa's (and Dio) 102cc engine generating 7 bhp.

The "Pinocchio-nosed" Scooty Pep sports a completely overhauled design and styling. Dual-tone body panels, wider seating, a large headlamp, integrated, tear-drop indicator lamps in the front, loads of storage space around the floor and below the seat, a new trendy instrument cluster and chrome-finish heat guard on the exhaust pipe. Fit and finish quality in the Scooty Pep is good and more than matches its peers in the industry. In addition, TVS is now offering an auto choke mechanism in the Scooty Pep, to improve mileage by regulating fuel flow based on the engine suction. The company claims that the system will dispel cold start problems that the traditional choke mechanism tries to address.

The other features of the Scooty Pep include a side-stand alarm, hydraulic dampened suspension, broader tyres, a larger 110mm brake drum and puncture resistant tyres, on the lines of the Tuff-up tube and tyre system that the Honda Activa and Dio were introduced with. The similarities with the Honda duo do not end there. The Scooty Pep's electrical switches (head lamp, indicator, horn and electric start) are all identical to that of the Honda vehicles.

The Scooty Pep will also feature the TVS patented "Power-Economy" mode technology. The technology that was first used in the TVS Victor, signals whether the user is on power mode (high power and acceleration, but low mileage) or economy mode (lower power and acceleration, but higher mileage). And, finally, TVS Motors has managed to get rid of the manual fuel reserve knob. The Scooty Pep comes with an auto reserve fuel tap.

However, at Rs 34,000 plus (on-road), the Scooty Pep is stiffly priced. Being a notch lower than the scooter/scooterrette segment in terms of performance, and with the availability of stripped down, cheaper versions of motorcycles such as the Hero Honda CD-Dawn and Bajaj Boxer, Scooty Pep's pricing could be the reason for the potential buyer's dilemma.

In true TVS style, the company continues to retain the old two-stroke Scooty, the work horse that made the TVS brand name popular in the Central Indian cities of Indore and Bhopal. With the two-stroke Scooty, at Rs 28,000 plus, still being targeted at the traditional, extremely value conscious scooterrette buyer, the new Scooty Pep will instead be focussed on attracting young women and the college goer.

Fiero F2

Unlike the Scooty Pep, the Fiero F2's is more a cosmetic changeover from its previous avatar. The bike has had an obvious nose-job. Replacing the more fancily designed head lamp and indicators cluster is the new bigger, integrated fairing and clear lens head-lamp with the indicators being separated on to the side of the fairing.

In addition, the new Fiero F2 features an all-chrome silencer with muffler guard, a new look pressure die-cast aluminium pillion footrest and saree guard, side stand alarm, a single radius, wider and aspect ratio rear tyre for better road grip, star-burst tail lamp and a disc brake option. The engine remains the 150cc, four-stroke, 12 bhp one that powered the original. An intelligent CV carburetor, which operates on a pressure-sensitive diaphragm and a digitally mapped ignition system ensures better power transition and higher mileage.

The new Fiero F2 is priced marginally higher than the previous version at Rs 53,000 plus (on-road).

Question 'N' Auto

Which bike will be ideal for driving in city conditions within the price range of Rs 50,000?

- Vegesana Ravindra Varma

The options that are available in the motorcycles market within the Rs 50,000 price range are: Bajaj's Caliber 115 and Pulsar, TVS Motors' Fiero F2 and the Victor, Hero Honda's Splendor and Ambition, Yamaha Motor India's Libero and the Enticer, and even the LML Freedom and Kinetic Boss.

The ideal two-wheeler to drive in city conditions should have a four-stroke engine, as it offers immense advantages — lower emission levels, lower noise and high fuel efficiency — over the two-stroke one. In the stop and go traffic that is endemic to most Indian cities, four-stroke technology will enable one to get the maximum mileage without sacrificing on pick-up and throttle response.

The Bajaj Pulsar, the TVS Victor and Hero Honda Splendor are the best options available. All the three bikes are from reputed, well-established two-wheeler companies represented by dealers and service outlets throughout the country. They are best selling models of the respective companies and are priced attractively.

If the Bajaj Pulsar is to your liking, it would be prudent to go in for the 150cc version with drum brakes in the front. If you don't mind paying the extra bit for higher safety, the disc brakes option could be opted for.

In the Auto Focus Column Business Line will feature a new question and answer section — Question `n' Auto — to offer suggestions and solutions to readers. Readers are invited to send their queries related to the world of automobiles — such as which bike to buy, which second-hand car to opt for and financing for cars — to: q&a@thehindu.co.in

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