TVS Motor’s first electric scooter attempts to walk the fine line between sportiness and comfort. We ride it at the company’s test track.
The TVS iQube has arrived at a time when the premium electric scooter market in our country is still at a nascent stage. But it already faces tough competition from the likes of Bajaj’s Chetak. TVS has now launched the iQube to gain a foothold in the space. We rode it on TVS’ test track in Hosur. Here are our first impressions.
Most manufcaturers try to distinguish their EVs from the regular crop of fossil fuel driven products and even TVS has left no stone unturned to do so. It gets a short, stubby nose with an glass bar running across it with LED lamps and a black panel insert above the iQube logo. There are daytime running lamps positioned higher above and they separate the black windshield and the rest of the fascia finished in white. The sides are relatively unremarkable save for the glowing ‘TVS electric’ badge near the left rear wheel which lights up when the scooter is stationary. The rear too has a bar that runs across with the brake and indicator lights integrated into it. All in all, the styling might not to be everyone’s taste, especially when looked at side by side with a Jupiter which incidentally has very similar proportions, albeit in a much more palatable form.
Once astride the TVS iQube however, all that can be forgotten.The first thing you notice is that the ergonomics are spot on and unlike other electric scooter manufacturers, TVS has resisted the urge to overwhelm riders with a host of controls that they might not use – opting for a 5.0-inch infotainment console that only displays important information. There are just as many buttons as you would find on a regular scooter except for thehazard lights switch and ‘Q parking assist’ that allows you to move the bike in forward or reverse direction at crawling speeds. We tried out the feature when off the Hosur test track and it worked as expected. Quality of switchgear is acceptable but coming from TVS, the fit and finish is expected to be better. Take the case of the bolts which sit next to the cluster.
Built around a tubular frame chassis, the TVS iQube makes a number of interesting design choices that make it very different from the crowd of electric scooters making their way to the market. The iQube gets a 2.25kWh battery pack that’s split into three parts. The three parts weigh 8kg each and although they can be removed and charged separately, they cannot be removed by the user. TVS says that such a choice was made to ensure the reliability and long life of the battery pack. The placement of the batteries below the seat and slightly above the floor has ensured that the weight distribution in the iQube is concentrated towards the center of the scooter. It also opts for a hub mounted, Bosch sourced motor with a peak power output of 4.4kW. TVS however have tuned the motor in house, developed the battery management system and also the assembled the battery pack in house. The iQube uses high charge density LG 18650 cells sourced from Korea.
On the go, the TVS iQube aided by the 4.4kW hub motor is quick and easily builds up speed all the way to the limit of 78kmph (we did get to an indicated 87kmph though) in Power mode and 50kmph in Eco mode. The acceleration is brisk and linear in nature with the scooter pulling cleanly all the way. The 140Nm of torque at the wheel does play its part and from a standstill, the scooter accelerates to 40kmph in a commendable 4.2 seconds. Letting go off the throttle gets the regenerative braking to kick in. It can be used to ride efficiently and effortlessly with minimum use of the front disc and rear drum braking setup. It is possibly the strongest regen setup that we have experienced on an electric scooter in India.
When you do need to use the brakes, TVS’ setup on the iQube has loads of bite and great feedback too. The 220m disc at the front combined with the 130mm drum at the rear mean that the brakes are sharp and great for enthusiastic riding. The 12-inch, 90-section rubber that the scooter comes shod offers good grip and doesn’t protest even under heavy braking. Although a CBS mandated by regulation, the rear of the iQube does lock up under heavy braking – an issue TVS’ assures us can be dealt with a simple realignment of the brake bias.
The concetration of the 118kg weight towards the center in the tubular frame construction makes the scooter inherently stable at speeds and you have to make very few corrections even while going over small bumps. Tipping into corners, the iQube feels eager and the weight transfer is smooth and effortless, inspiring confidence and allowing you to push it harder. Through a corner, it handles predictably too, staying flat and composed (thanks to the very low centre of gravity) and you are never unsure about where the limits are.
The iQube is certainly set up to be on the firmer side and understandably so – it is by its very nature a sporty offering. It is not an uncomfortable scooter by any stretch of imaginationthough and the wide and plush seats do insulate you from the full force of the bumps. The telescopic suspension at the front and the hydraulic twin tube at the rear – a setup a number of manufacturers are using for a comfier ride – have to be tested on bad roads for a verdict on that front.
The e-scooter gets new generation of TVS SmartXonnect system, which enables the user to connect the phone with their scooter. The TFT cluster on the scooter gets 58 functions including features like geo-fencing, remote battery charge status, navigation assist, last Park location incoming call alert/SMS alert and more. Currently, the scooter is available in only White colour and boasts of all-LED illumination, telescopic forks at the front and 5-step adjustable rear shocks.
With a price tag of Rs. 1.15 lakh, the iQube is definitely pricey, but it marries TVS’ sporty DNA with an electric heart and could turn out to be the right balance between sporty handling and a pliant ride – it straddles the middle ground between the fun Ather 450X and the comfortable Bajaj Chetak. The build quality and a number of connected features too might just nudge prospective customers towards the iQube. However, the low range of 75km and 55km in Eco and Power mode respectively– lowest among the three premium electric scooters – is a genuine concern. Unlike Bajaj, TVS is offering public charging infrastructure along with home charging stations for iQubeowners. The home charging station will be installed by TVS personnel.