Ducati Panigale V4 S review: For Rs 25.29 lakh, this is a very special beast
Ducati’s new bike, the new Panigale V4S is stupendously fast and incredibly advanced. It’s also available for a sumptuous price. Both the V4 and the V4 S have been launched in India at a competitive Rs 20.53 lakh and Rs 25.29 lakh, respectively, although our market will only get 20 bikes in 2018.autos Updated: Feb 03, 2018 09:30 IST
With 214hp of peak power, Ducati’s new Panigale V4 instantly became the most powerful production sports bike that money can buy. And with a bit more money, that power could be bumped up to an almost ludicrous 226hp through an optional Akrapovic exhaust and an engine remap. With its new chassis and claimed segment-leading electronics, the Panigale V4 was certain to be a very special machine. Well, we’ve just ridden it at the MotoGP circuit in Valencia, Spain – and suffice to say, our socks have been blown well and truly into the distance.
Valencia is an unusual place to organise the first ride experience for a machine that is the fastest of its class. The Spanish track is notorious for how tight and technical it is; and despite five riding sessions, many of us never fully figured it out. The rationale behind the decision was for Ducati to prove that the new Panigale V4 isn’t just a bull that can tear through a china shop at a million miles an hour. This bike is still very much recognisable as a Panigale, but the design has traded some of Ducati’s traditional clean and classic lines along the side, in favour of a more tight and muscular form.
The new motor in this bike is more compact in terms of length and height but is wider by 43mm. The engine is rotated backwards by 42 degrees, which makes additional room for larger radiators and allows a further forward swingarm pivot point. The 81mm bore, 90-degree V-angle as well as a ‘twin-pulse’ firing order are shared with the V4 engine in the MotoGP. However, Ducati stroked the motor out to displace 1,103cc, primarily for the purpose of offering a strong swell of torque that would be highly appreciated on a road bike. Both the Panigale V4 and V4 S share identical engine specs – 214hp and 124Nm of toque, with a lofty 14,500rpm rev limit. A compression ratio of 14:1 means this engine has a thirst for high-octane fuel, something worth keeping in mind. Ducati says that they’ve retained some of the feel and character of the V-twin in the new V4 and that’s evident the moment you fire the engine up. The motor settles into a gruff and mechanical-sounding idle with a fair amount of clatter, quite like the V-twin. But the sound transitions into a mean and angry bark at higher revs which is quite reminiscent of the Ducati MotoGP bike.
The Panigale goes just as fast as it sounds, too, pulling incredibly hard after 8,000rpm, all the way to the redline. It’s a struggle just to hold onto the bike under full acceleration and the bike was accelerating strongly even at 285kph, which was the fastest I dared before hauling on the anchors for turn 1. Power delivery is quite linear and predictable and the throttle response is smooth, as well, allowing the rider to comfortably roll on the gas when leaned over in a corner. All this power arrives cleanly from the V4, which is devoid of any irritating buzz or vibrations. That said, it has a likeable feel and texture and certainly isn’t as turbine-smooth as a Japanese inline-four.
The handling is the most natural I’ve experienced on a Ducati sports bike, till date. Turn-in is quick and the front-end conveys more agility and rider feedback than even the smaller 959 Panigale. That counter-rotating crank is almost certainly helping with the agile corner entry. In the middle of the corner, the bike feels supremely planted and the new Pirelli Supercorsas, with a taller 60 profile at the rear, provide immense grip. The Ohlins semi-active, electronically-controlled suspension is surprisingly organic and also offers a deep level of tuning ability for the rider. At this point, I’m not sure if the Panigale is among the easiest of the current-litre bike crop but it certainly feels like one of the fastest and most advanced.
Then there are the brakes, which are simply the finest I’ve ever used. The V4 is the first road bike to use Brembo’s new Stylema front callipers, which are a more compact and lighter evolution of the previous range-topping M50s. Braking performance is immensely powerful, with good feel and progression at the lever and the brakes showed no sign of fade, throughout a day of very hard riding.
And finally, that brings us to the segment leading electronics. There’s simply far too much to write about, here – not just in terms of electronic assists but also the engine and chassis. To sum up, the Panigale V4 features an evolved electronics package from the 1299 Panigale which offers even smoother and more intuitive intervention. There are quite a few additions as well, and the highlights include the new Slide-by-Brake feature that allows the rider to use the rear brake to put the bike into a controlled drift while entering a corner. Slide Control, meanwhile, allows carefully-managed slides when the bike is leaned over and the rider gets on the throttle during corner exit. Anti-Wheelie also does a good job of restraining the front wheel – which is eager to come up under hard acceleration all the way upto 4th gear, and well over 220kph. All the assists offer high levels of adjustability and can be easily controlled via switches on the left bar and through the crisp new 5.0-inch, full colour display.
The Panigale V4 is a true exotic, in every sense of the word. It’s achingly gorgeous and mentally fast, but it does so with an ease and sophistication that very few exotics possess. But the really good news comes in the form of the price. Since the new V4 is now assembled in Thailand, Ducati has been able to price the bike far more competitively than the previous 1299 Panigale. Both the V4 and the V4 S have been launched in India at a competitive Rs 20.53 lakh and Rs 25.29 lakh, respectively, although our market will only get 20 bikes in 2018. The base V4 seems like a particularly good deal, considering that it gets all the power and technology from the S apart from the electric Ohlins suspension, forged aluminium wheels and a lithium ion battery. Deliveries start in July and we can’t wait to ride these bikes in more familiar territory!