Does Hero MotoCorp's first ever 125 cc scooter do enough to stand out in the ever-growing 125cc scooter segment, asks Gaurav Sadanand.
Lately, there has been a paradigm shift in the scooter segment with customers looking to buy more powerful, feature-rich scooters, despite the premium they command.
This upward trend is reportedly growing a rapid rate of over 75 per cent every year, and Hero has decided to target this segment by introducing its first 125cc scooter.
Hero's newest offering began life as the Duet 125, which was showcased alongside the Maestro Edge 125 at the Auto Expo 2018. Now, it's been launched in its production guise as the Destini 125.
Priced well under Rs 60,000 (ex-showroom), this premium looking budget scooter is sure to ruffle some feathers in the 125cc space. We've had a short go on it just after the launch event and here are our quick first-ride impressions.
Design and features
Its flowing lines and curves make for a design philosophy that's simple but mature, as opposed to the sharp muscular styling on the Maestro Edge 125.
This sober but elegant design is primarily because the Destini 125 is positioned as a family-oriented scooter.
That said, the substantial use of chrome accents on the front apron and side panels, body-coloured rearview mirrors, dual-textured seat and blacked-out alloys (only available on the Vx variant) adds a touch of premiumness to the scooter .
As far as features are concerned, the Destini 125 gets AHO (automatic headlamp on), a simple semi-digital instrument console with readouts for the fuel gauge, odometer, tripmeters along with a service due reminder and side stand indicator.
The scooter also comes equipped with a pass switch. For added convenience, the Destini 125 gets an external fuel filler cap which can be opened via the 4-in-one key slot, while the top-end Vx variant additionally gets a mobile charging port and an underseat boot light which should provide sufficient illumination at night.
While the Destini 125 might not beat its competition outright in terms of features, it makes up for it by offering Hero's intuitive i3S (idle-stop-start-system) technology as standard which is a segment first.
This useful feature detects if the scooter is at a standstill for more than 5 seconds and cuts off the engine automatically to save fuel. To restart the engine, you simply hold either of the brake levers and just twist the throttle open.
This improves fuel efficiency by around 10 per cent (as claimed by the company) and reduces carbon emissions.
We have to say that the bikemaker has nailed the ergonomics of the scooter.
Its tall handlebar and a low floorboard results in an impressive kneeroom compared to its competition, the Access 125 and the Suzuki Access 125. Essentially, tall riders won't find their knees touching the handlebar every time they try to take a tight U-turn.
The seat is spacious enough to accommodate even larger riders and pillions, and overall comfort is top notch.
Where we found the Destini a bit lacking, though, was in terms of storage space.
While the floorboard is large enough for even large backpacks, there are no convenient cubby holes on the front apron. And even underseat storage feels a bit on the lower side.
Although Hero hasn't specified its exact volume, we'd estimate it to be about 16-17 litres, a far cry from the segment best, but still good enough to store a standard half-face helmet.
The boot light and USB charger (on the Vx variant), and the fact that the seat can be unlocked from the 4-in-one ignition key, are definite upsides in our book.
Engine and performance
Powering the Destini 125 is a new 124.6cc, single-cylinder, Energy Boost engine that it will share with the soon-to-be-launched Hero Maestro Edge 125.
Mated to a variomatic transmission (CVT), the Destini produces peak power of 8.83PS at 6750rpm and a maximum torque of 10.2Nm at 5000rpm.
Owing to the high torque output, the scooter is quick to get off the mark and the 0-60kmph dash comes up fairly quickly.
Moreover, it has a strong mid-range too which sees it touching about 80kmph (on the speedometer) quite comfortably. Post this though, the performance does taper off towards the top.
Nevertheless, power from this 125cc scooter is good enough to make city overtakes a piece of cake, and it feels decently responsive even when riding around with a pillion on board.
We also found that the i3S tech works rather well in stop-and-go traffic, once you get used to it that is.
But just in case this piece of tech doesn't tickle your fancy, you also have the option to completely turn off i3S with a flick of a switch placed on the right-hand side of the speedometer.
Ride, handling and braking
The Destini 125 employs telescopic forks up front and a single shock absorber at the rear.
The front suspension has been set up on the firmer side which enables the scooter to turn in pretty quickly and weave through city traffic, while the rear feels plush and soaks in undulations quite easily.
However, with a pillion on board, the rear tends to wallow around a wee bit over sharp bumps due to the scooter's softly sprung setup at the rear.
In general, the ride quality would certainly qualify as 'good', at least when riding solo.
It feels fairly well controlled when riding two-up as well, with that slight wallowiness over sharp bumps never feeling too problematic.
The overall handling, while it might not set any benchmarks, feels solid and reliable.
In fact, the Destini 125 feels surprisingly stable for a scooter running on 10-inch wheels at both ends.
Here, the 90/100 size TVS tyres do a pretty good job of inspiring confidence when darting in and out of traffic.
Braking duties are handled by drum brakes at both ends which feature Hero's Integrated Braking System.
Essentially, the setup allows the rider to simultaneously apply brake force at both ends by pulling on just the rear brake lever, a pretty nifty feature for novice riders.
While the standard setup offers decent stopping power, an optional disc brake up front would have gone a long way. Unfortunately, in a bid to keep the Destini's pricing super competitive, Hero has done away with this idea altogether.
The Hero Destini 125 was always intended to be positioned as more of a value-for-money proposition.
With a price tag of and Rs 57,500 for the Lx and Vx variants respectively, it seems to have lived up to its claim.
Though the Hero Destini 125 undercuts the Honda Activa 125 (Rs 61,858 - drum/alloy) by a fair bit, it is practically on par with its main rival, the Suzuki Access 125, priced at Rs 55,666 for the drum variant (all prices, ex-showroom Delhi).
However, the only tangible advantage it seems to be offering, at least to the average buyer, is the i3S technology.
We believe features such as LED lights, and perhaps even a disc brake option, might have helped it edge past its competition more easily.
That said, after our short first ride, we were quite impressed by the scooter's fit-and-finish, ride quality, performance and spot-on ergonomics, the last of which we think is the best in this family-oriented 125cc scooter space.
All that, packed in a 125cc scooter that is the most affordable in its segment makes for a pretty sweet deal from our point of view.
Photographs: Courtesy BikeDekho.com