In the Indian car market, Suzuki has a significant share in collaboration with Maruti. But in the two-wheeler segment, the company is yet to find its place.
The well-equipped Access scooter remains its best mass market product to date, with none of its other small-capacity motorcycles really able to crack the market.
It’s not because Suzuki lacks the know-how in terms of technology or capability, both of which they have aplenty. It’s more to do with finding a niche in the Indian market that demands some unique requirements. If they get it right with the Slingshot, they can make sizable inroads into the market but if they get it wrong, the company may not get too many chances here.
The Slingshot from the paint job has ample Suzuki in its DNA. The front is decidedly GSX, with a powerful bright headlight leading straight into the instruments.
Modern clear to read instruments with a large speedometer, prominent fuel gauge and even a gear indicator with beacons inform riders about the gear they have engaged. Suzuki continues to provide the luxury of a pass-light switch as well as engine-kill option on the new bike. Switchgear quality is on par with the competition. The Slingshot has comfortable palm grips that offer really nice grip; Slingshot handlebar to be locked on either side via the ignition key unlike the Zeus. The mirror design and fuel tank are good, the fuel tank cap, though, looks dated. Overall fit and finish is good, as is paint lustre, rubber and plastic quality.
The Zeus’ four-stroke, single-cylinder and air-cooled 124 cc engine finds its way to the Slingshot. The carburettor, clutch and ignition system have received some tweaks. The five-speed gearbox shifts precisely in the one-down, four-up configuration with a superlative feel via a heel-and-toe lever.
The Slingshot engine runs smoothly throughout the power band. However, the bike feels underpowered — 8.7 bhp of power is available at 7000 rpm and 1.01 kgm of torque made at 3500 rpm. The older Zeus lacked enough pep too, so it’s surprising why Suzuki didn’t improve engine efficiency for the Slingshot despite its 14 kg extra weight.
This lacuna robs the bike of riding pleasure, which leaves the Slingshot feeling more like a 100 cc than a 125 cc motorcycle. Even Honda’s 109 cc CB Twister is faster than the larger Suzuki. The Slingshot takes all of 8.69 seconds to get past 60 kph from a standing start (the Twister takes 7.13 seconds), and is again slower to pass 80 kph in 18.37 seconds (the Twister takes 15 seconds).
On the engine front, Suzuki ought to have put in more effort to provide the Slingshot with a powerplant that is up to speed with its rivals.
Price: R43,945- 45,911 (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
L/ W/ H: 2035/ 770/ 1075 mm
Ground clearance: 160 mm
Wheelbase: 1265 mm
Kerb weight: 128 kg
Tank size: 12 litres
Engine layout: Single-cylinder,
Displacement: 124 cc
Max power: 8.7 bhp at 7000 rpm
Max torque: 1.01 kgm at 3500 rpm
Specific output: 70.1 bhp per litre
Ride and handling
The bike is a comfortable commuter with high handlebars and an upright riding posture heading down to forward-set foot-rests. It comes with 18-inch rims, and a single downtube frame that sadly uses a dated tubular swing-arm when today most Indian bikes have switched to box sections. What does offer some consolation is the broad 12-litre fuel tank with its nicely sculpted thigh recesses.
The Slingshot has extended its wheelbase relative to the Zeus with a 25mm longer swing-arm, and also provides adjustable rear shock absorbers that were missing from the earlier motorcycle. It handles well through corners and has good ride quality. Its weight and longer wheelbase does not make the bike as nimble as the Zeus but handling remains light and confident, with the Slingshot just as capable around corners as any Indian 125cc bike.
Our quickest stop from 60 kph on the drum brake-equipped Slingshot took 21.74 metres, with acceptable feel at the
levers. Suzuki will shortly be launching a disc brake version of the Slingshot.