Life has come a full circle for Hyosung. The Korean company launched the 250cc Aquila over a decade ago in tie up with Kinetic Motors, but at the time the market was not ready to shell out Rs.
2.5 lakh on a bike, and the experiment ended rapidly.
Today the Indian bike buyer shells out Rs. 10 lakh-plus without blinking an eye, and Hyosung has been present in the market for a good few years with its 650-cc and 700-cc bikes, with some traction among buyers, so when it announced an Aquila all over again, one wondered about the strategy. Plainly, pricing matters, and a sub-3 lakh bike may find more takers than a 5-lakh-plus offering in the budget-conscious Indian market. And it has come at a time when, there are multi-cylinder small bike options in the form of the 250-cc Suzuki Inazuma and the 300-cc b aby Ninja, but there is no cruiser. Hyosung believes there is a vacant slot that can be exploited.
The idea itself cannot be faulted. The question is whether the product is upto the task.
Looks-wise, the Aquila is quite an eye-turner. A nice flowing design, lots of chrome, and quite some attitude, it is as bling as they come. It is described as an urban cruiser, and makes little pretence of being a king of the highway.
The clocks are all there, a mixture of digital and analog, with the regulation trip meters and idiot lights, within easy sight of the rider.
The seat is comfortable, the footpegs well situated, and the handle just right for this rider. The pillion seat too is well laid out and good for long rides, and the combination looks very attractive.
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. How does it fare on the ride?
The 250-cc V-twin is no slouch. We did not have the bike long enough to really put it through its paces, but it did not disappoint on any count. Pick-up — so essential for a city bike — is spot on, and in true urban bike styling, it takes off from a standing start like a sportsbike. The flared handle and the low seating enable one to really take liberties with the ride, so this is a bike that will not disappoint experts, while being a delight for the novice upgrading from the 150-cc sportsbike.
Though the body is relatively light it rides true at high speed, handling 140-150 kph with aplomb. We did not find a road to test it to the limit, which is likely to be in the 160-165 range, but holding that speed for significant lengths of time would be tiring, unlike the big cruisers from Harley or Triumph.
Speaking of Harley, one felt that perhaps, Hyosung may have been dunned a little in the timing of the Aquila launch. Just a few months earlier Harley put out its Street 750 at a handsome price of Rs. 4.5-odd lakhs on road in Delhi. So will a discriminating rider shell out about Rs. 3 lakh for a Korean brand with a 250cc engine? The same question was asked for the Inazuma too, and that is priced even higher. Would even a true-blue enthusiast not weigh the pros and cons — for Rs. 1.3 lakh more, you get 500 cc more of engine, the Harley badge, and slightly higher performance.
Take the Harley out of the equation, though, and the Aquila acquits itself well. If the after-sales would match up to expectations, it is quite a good option. And in the looks department it is streets ahead of the non-existent competition. But competition will soon be here, with several companies eyeing the small-twin slot to make up the volumes. This battle has yet to play out.