Ather 450X Gen 3 Review: The Almost Perfect Scooter
The Ather 450X Gen 3 checks all the right boxes, but misses out on some bizarre ones
Throw a pebble in any direction and there's a chance you may hit a ‘promising’ e-scooter startup. What started as a niche subset has snowballed into an avalanche, with a sea of electric scooters silently whirring their way onto our streets. But with each offering a gimmick of its own, how do you have your pick of the litter? I was in a similar conundrum earlier last month when the review unit of the Ather 450X Gen 3 was handed to me for two weeks. After clocking nearly 300 km through peak Pune traffic and some highway mile-munching, I think I finally have an answer.
The Ather to Apple comparison is almost a cliche at this point. But have you ever wondered what makes the iPhone more easily distinguishable than a regular phone? Is it the half-eaten apple tramp-stamp? The ever-evolving shape of the notch? In some ways, yes. But more than that, it is the finer details like the packaging, the finishing, the haptic engine, the smooth iOS integration, the seamless performance and more, which makes the iPhone the iPhone. The focus on perfecting what you have rather than re-inventing with gimmicks is what has separated it from the competition. The Ather 450X Gen 3 does something similar.
The scooter's appearance doesn't break any boundaries. The design is drama-free compared to what's currently offered in the market, with a clean-cut silhouette and sporty accents to make it look a bit meaner. Still, there's something about it which seems a tad superior to its competition, something premium yet understated. It may not be a head-turner, but you’ll know when an Ather passes by you.
Fortunately, the Ather rides as good as it looks, if not better. After spending enough time around performance-focused ICE scooters, I can confidently say that the acceleration on the Gen 3 is like nothing I’ve experienced before (0-60 kmph in 7 seconds). Yes, there are other petrol scooters which are faster, but they often feel gruff and unrefined when being pushed. The Gen 3, on the other hand, sits quietly and confidently at high speeds, making you wish it wasn't capped at 90 kmph.
All of this is now backed by a larger 3.7 kWh battery pack that pushes the Gen 3's true range to 105 km, nearly 20 kms more than before. This does help in curbing range anxiety, especially considering the ever-expanding network of fast chargers. But for someone like me who lives far on the outskirts of Pune (roughly 20 km from the main city), every ride out of the urban environment had to be planned. This was especially annoying when I had to rely on the slow three-plug portable charger Ather ships with the scooter, which takes a glacial 340 minutes to charge from 0 to 100 percent.
One of the main highlights during my time with the Gen 3 was when I switched seats with my pillion, who after a short ride described it as ‘makkhan’. This isn't an exaggeration. Ride quality on the Gen 3 for the most part feels like taking a stroll on a dollop of butter, thanks to its lower centre of gravity, retuned suspension and the vibration-free experience only an electric scooter can provide. Be it chock-a-block city traffic or upturned gravel roads, the scooter feels at ease in any environment. The disc brake setup on both ends (200mm at the front & 190mm at the rear) is equally impressive, although the rear does tend to squeal a bit when pushed too hard.
It is difficult to find any major drawbacks with the Gen 3, but the minor ones are strange, to say the least. For starters, the scooter doesn't come with a USB charging port, which is a little odd, considering most ICE scooters offer it. Another notable issue made itself noticed with the Google navigation system, which apart from occasional glitches, did not show real-time traffic updates. There were numerous times when I was stuck in turtle-paced congestions, yet all I saw on the screen were blue lines. Ather has officially rolled out an update to fix this, although the integration still seems to be under development. Another minor issue is the portable charger, which takes up most of the boot space. Then there's the side stand, which leans the scooter way too much, causing difficulties in tight parking spaces.
The Gen 3 is now being offered in two trims. First up is the Pro variant, which costs Rs 1.45 lakh (Rs 13,000 cheaper than before), and a regular variant which retails for Rs 1.14 lakh (both ex-showroom Bengaluru, with Fame II subsidy), but misses out on features such as fast charging, ride modes, TFT touchscreen, tyre pressure monitor, Google Maps, hill assist, park assist and more.
Should you buy it? At the risk of beating the dead horse, the iPhone comparison, here again, comes in handy. Like the Cupertino-based tech giant, Ather builds every part of the Gen 3 in-house, apart from the lithium-ion cells for the battery. It is the complete autonomy in end-to-end production that allows it to deliver a near-perfect product that is only going to get better with time. At lakh and half, the fully loaded scooter isn't exactly budget-friendly, nor does it offer additional frills as its similarly priced competitors. But again, it is the little things that makes it worth the purchase.The iPhone Of Scooters Verdict