2023 Ather 450S: first ride review - All-new setup, same old promise
Earlier this year, the Indian government reduced the subsidy on electric two wheelers from 40 per cent of the cost of the (in this case) electric scooter down to about 15 per cent. This basically means a scooter like the Gen-3 Ather 450X will new set you back by about Rs 1.7 lakh. So, not all that affordable, really. So, to combat this uncomfortable pricing, Ather has come up with new variant of the 450 scooter. It's called the 450S. Now the S is lacking in terms of some features. It doesn't get the intuitive 7-inch touch screen and it gets new switchgear to toggle options on the LCD screen instead. A smaller battery pack is part of the S package as well. It houses a smaller 2.9kWh pack compared to the 450Xs 3.7kWh unit. The 450S also gets the same PMSM motor as the X but produces a lesser amount of power. So what's it actually like to ride? Let's find out.
In terms of its design, there's nothing besides the tiny 450S badging on the apron to distinguish the S from the existing gen three 450X from afar. The S' body panels, the LED lights all around, the seat, mirrors, wheels, disc brakes, even the hybrid aluminum chassis, belt drive, the suspension units, they're all the same components as on the X. What further helps the new variant disguise itself is the fact that it is available in the four of the existing colour schemes of the 450X. Only once you get up close to the scooter will you be able to tell that its and S with the LCD screen and new switchgear. The joystick on the left hand side which toggles through the options on the new LCD screen and the very convenient reverse or park assist button on the right are new additions here.
The new DeepView LCD screen comes with an auto-brightness feature, and the on-screen layout is well spread out and informative. This also includes these new digital winglets that have their own visual functions while reversing, during battery regeneration or while navigating. The scooter comes with a 4G sim, Bluetooth connectivity that connects the scooter to the headset and your phone, then you have Music control; call management, Auto Hold feature which is great for when you stop on a slope, reverse or Park assist and theft and tow flashing lights.
The 450S also features Ather's new 'Fall-Safe' safety tech - which switches off the scooter motor if it detects that you have had a fall while riding, and coasting Regen feature which allows you to remove the regenerative braking which functions on the lines of engine braking, completely.
So although it doesn't feature that vibrant 7-inch touch screen, the 450S still packs a decent amount of kit. You also get stuff like theft and tow alert, trip planner, geofencing, TPMS, ride data, service bookings and more all available through the refreshed app.
Now the latest bunch of Ather 450 scooters have always been about performance and build quality and thankfully although performance has taken a bit of a step back with the new S, build quality and fit and finish levels is as you would expect - still high up there.
The 450S gets the same PMSM motor as the 450X but its max output is lower at 5.4kW and 22Nm compared to the same unit which pushes out 6.4kW and 26Nm in the 450X with the bigger 3.7kWh battery pack. The S also misses out on 'Warp' ride mode and has a top speed that's limited to 90kmph, which is a bit of a downer for me, but makes sense overall considering that you'd want to have some juice left to get back from point B to point A without having to charge the pack. Although the new 450S is almost 3.5kg lighter than the existing 450X it can be barely felt.
Still the S is a highly agile and fun scooter to ride, but somehow lacks that heightened level of excitement. Ather say that it takes the S 3.9secs to accelerate from 0-40kmph, in comparison to the 3.3secs it takes for the older gen 3 450X to get up to that speed. In the presentation the day before the ride, Ather compared the gen-three Ather 450X that's already out in the market to that of a 150cc performance scooter, while drawing similarities of the new 450S to that of a 125cc scooter on the performance front.
So the 450S doesn't have the biggest battery or the most power producing motor of them all, but then again it does have a good range. Although it is missing the 'Warp' ride mode, you do get three other ride modes like Eco, Ride and Sport which gives you the flexibility to blend the right mix of power and frugality out of the scooter.
As far as the battery is concerned, the smaller 2.9kWh battery pack doesn't have the extensive range of the 3.7kWh unit. Once the battery is down to 13 per cent SOC, Just like with the 450X the 450S will go into Eco mode automatically in an effort to give you the most range possible. We won't be commenting on the best range you can expect from this scooter at this time due to limited testing time out here today and we honestly haven't been at our economical best trying to get around the place on time. But we did get an understanding of how the new 450S scooter charges.
Now although we won't be checking out the range of the new 2.9kWh battery, we do have a fair idea of how long it will take to charge the scooter at one of the Ather Grid fast chargers. When we stoipped to plug the scooter in about half an hour ago, the SOC (state of charge) was 10 per cent, which showed us a range of around 7km of runtime. Half-an-hour into charging the scooter display is showing 50 per cent of charge so it's gone up by 40 per cent overall with an indication of 40km till the battery is completely drained out.
Ather has also integrated this feature called Charging Optimization 2.0 to the new 450S and what new feature does is if, well you keep your scooter plugged in and charging overnight, it will charge at its optimal speed up till about 80 per cent after which it will gradually charge all the way to 100 per cent post 6am. So seldom does it charge to 100 per cent, and thanks to our level of anxiety, the battery charge will rarely ever drop all the way down to zero and this all helps preserve charging cycles of the battery.
Now in addition to launching the new 450S variant, at Rs 1.3 1.43lakh for the standard and Pro models, Ather are also offering the 450X with the new switchgear and 2.9kWh battery pack of the S but with existing TFT display as a mix of both worlds kind of thing. This new 2.9kWh 450X variant will cost 1.38 1.53 lakh for the standard and Pro models. From what we understand right now, with Pro offering connectivity and navigation functions. Yes, there will also be an updated 450X with the 3.7kWh battery and all the top-drawer components which will obviously sit above the others in the pecking order and while its updated features and pricing for the year haven't been announced as yet, this basically signals Ather opening its doors to a refreshed range of Ather 450 scooters to its customers this year.
Now to sum things up out here with the Ather 450S, first of all, why does this scooter even exist? Well the reason for that as Ather claims, is to make the new range of scooters more accessible to the public. The smaller 2.9kWh battery has reduced range from 120km with the bigger 3.7kWh battery pack to 90km, and although we haven't verified this claim this time around, with what we've seen in the past with the 450X, Ather pretty much always provides an accurate range reading. The scooter lacks a warp mode, but you get enough ride modes to conserve power and play around with performance. The main USPs of this 450X scooter was the display, and although the 450S doesn't get the same fancy touch screen, it does get a very intuitive LCD screen which packs a good amount of features including Bluetooth connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation.
The best part is that the 450S still exudes that brilliant performance and handling dynamics that we loved with the 450X. Not too bad and still packing a good amount of features for a scooter that starts off at Rs 1.3 lakh and there's a more expensive Pro variant on the cards as well, but we'll have clarity on that model later on. For what it brings to the table, the Ather 450S is still a well put together that makes a lot of sense for its pricing.
Starts Rs 1,18,996