Ather 450X Gen 3 first ride review: Still the benchmark for electric scooters?
There wasn't anything like the Ather 450 in the Indian market when it was first unveiled in 2018. An electric scooter that didn't seem like it was built to a price, with impressive range and styling that turned heads wherever it went. The 450X was one of the first true alternatives to an ICE-powered scooter and it therefore set a benchmark. Not to forget its spirited #ThrillOfRiding factor which impressed us the most. Since then we've seen the rise of many e-scooters and while Ather has bettered the 450X over the years with mild updates, now was the time to give it a much needed overhaul, because its rivals have overtaken the 450 in some areas like range. Enter the Ather 450X Gen 3. As the name suggests this is the third generation of the Ather 450 and we've ridden it to see if it still is the benchmark of its class.
Ather 450X Gen 3 Styling
Yes it looks the same, because it is the same on the surface. There’s nothing that will set the Gen 3 apart from its forerunner, not even a badge. Ather has gone the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" route with the design of the 450X Gen 3 because this is a design that's proven, admired and more importantly giving them the numbers. Almost everything that's new lies under the 450X Gen 3's skin. Its futuristic styling was one of its USPs almost half a decade ago and even now, when the Ather 450 has become a common sight on our roads, it continues to grab eyeballs because of its sleek and chiselled look. So the styling hasn't changed at all, but there are few practical features that have been added to the 450X Gen 3 and in true Ather fashion they haven't come at the cost of design.
A much needed tweak included the new wider rear view mirrors. Ather owners will recall that the old 450X's RVMs, which tapered at the ends, although looked cool, didn't exactly do a good job of providing a good rear view. The new mirrors do a better job and can be retrofitted to older models as well. Then there's a new optional rear foot rest which sits flush when folded / not in use. More new accessories include a modular weather proof 5-litre front apron bag which can be used to store things like your mobile phone, water bottle etc, and an 18-litre rear storage bag that can swallow a full face helmet.
All-in-all the 450X still looks futuristic. Its minimalistic styling coupled with sharp lines makes it striking. Its build quality is fantastic, and factors like the unique aluminium frame which is exposed in places like under the seat and body-integrated rear foot pegs give it a striking appeal, still.
Ather 450X Gen 3 battery
The Ather 450X Gen 3 gets a larger 3.7kWh battery. Up by 0.8kWh, this unit gives it a higher real-world claimed range of 105km, a figure which is up by 20km than before and one that puts it knocking the doors of its arch rivals — the Ola S1 Pro and the updated TVS iQube. (Both of which offer a real-world range of over 125km).
Ather's extensive data analysis reveals that in major cities, where the scooter’s prime market share is, the average user does not travel more than 30kms and that is why they haven't given the 450X an even larger battery. Their study also reveals that in this shift to electric mobilisation the consumers don't have range anxiety, but are merely afraid of getting stranded, even though their daily commute doesn't see them crossing the 30-35km mark. That's why they've only slightly bettered the range, to give buyers that added peace of mind.
Ather 450X Gen 3 performance and range
The Ather 450X Gen 3 continues to be propelled by a PMS electric motor, although with slightly more power of 8.3bhp (0.3 than before). It also continues to have four riding modes, but the Eco mode has been given a new 'SmartECO' name. It has been tweaked to provide better range, without sacrificing off the line performance unlike before. And it is in this mode that the 450X Gen 3 promises a higher 105km real-world range. The Ride, Sport and Warp mode remain unchanged. While I only spent a short morning with the 450X Gen 3, the indicated range seemed to be quite accurate as I noticed. We got the scooter fully charged with a 104km of range displaying on the dash and a mere 22km on the odometer, and after our quick dash to ride and shoot it, we returned back to base with 80km on the odo and the remaining range was 30km still! Do note that I switched between the modes quite often and also gave it the beans every now and then. So I reckon that the 450X Gen 3 should easily achieve the 100km mark in the real world, in SmartECO mode that is.
On the performance front, the 450X Gen 3 continues to feel quick from the word get-go. It has a smooth and linear power delivery that's backed by the melodious whirr of its electric motor. A trait that we've become fans of over the years. The Warp mode continues to feel the most violent, but it's the SmartECO mode that surprised me. It feels like the Ride mode, with the same 50kmph top speed, but offers the best range. Suddenly the Ride mode feels a little redundant. Moreover, Ather says that because of its improved thermal management, the 450X Gen 3 can now offer even more consistency in performance, whether you’re riding alone or one up with a pillion.
Ather 450X Gen 3 user interface and features
The next big change is done to the user interface of the 450X’s infotainment system. The 7-inch TFT touchscreen display now houses a larger 2GB RAM and 16 gigs of storage for a smoother user experience. While the earlier system was easily one of the best around, Ather says the new interface does a better job of running multiple apps and diagnosing things like the TPMS in the background. Carried over features include auto turn off indicators, a 4G e-Sim, theft & tow alert, document storage, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. There's also an app that helps you track range, the health of the battery and even the tyre pressure from the optional TPMS.
Ather 450X Gen 3 ride and handling
The next big change on the Ather 450X Gen 3 is the improved suspension at the front and back. While we were seriously impressed by the way how the Ather 450X tackles our favourite corners around Lavasa, there was no hiding the fact that it was on the firmer side. But with this update, that firmness has gone down noticeably.
Let me clarify. This scooter still remains to be the sportiest e-scoot on the market, but it does a much better job of dampening potholes and small undulations thanks to a softer suspension. The sweet handling characteristics haven’t really changed – it still gets the 90-section tyre up front while the rear tyre is slightly wider now with a 100-section (was 90 earlier). The handling remains confidence-inspiring and that coupled with an excellent brake setup makes it a riot in the twisties.
Because of the bigger battery, its weight has also gone up by 5kg, but that hasn’t led to any perceptible differences while cornering and manoeuvring the scoot. Things like a wide seat and a fairly high-set handlebar that doesn't touch your knees even on full tilt, mean it is comfy for a wider or a fairly taller rider. But because the 450X Gen 3 hasn't received a longer wheelbase, it still isn't very roomy and that becomes apparent once you’re riding two up. So in a nutshell the 450X Gen 3 remains to be just as sporty as before with a better ride quality.
Ather 450X Gen 3 price and verdict
The Ather 450X Gen 3 is an evolution rather than a revolution of a very good electric scooter. Ather has taken this step to make it better and more importantly extra competitive against its rivals, which have recently come out with better specs. The Ather though, continues to have the best build quality and handling. It suffered in the ride quality department and although still not the comfiest scooter around, it is more comfier than before. But this seems like a missed opportunity as the next update to the Ather will be a while away. The changes done to the Gen 3 have made the 450X a better scooter overall, but not the best on paper amongst rivals. Moreover, it doesn't look different at all from the previous version. A few styling tweaks and simple things like the availability of new colours would've differentiated and honestly made it much, much more appealing.
Launched at a price of Rs 1.39 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the updated Ather 450X Gen 3 demands a much obvious slight premium over its previous model and that is very reasonable considering the fact that it has gotten a 20 per cent longer range and moved up a notch in terms of comfort and practicality. The Ather 450X Gen 3 therefore continues to be a brilliant everyday commuter nonetheless. One that we'd highly recommend.