The Ather 450X has set a benchmark in the electric scooter segment, and now we also have Bajaj going electric, reviving the iconic Chetak name in its return to the scooter space. The Ather 450X is homegrown start-up Ather Energy's flagship, and it certainly is an impressive product, from a features, technology and performance perspective. The Chetak will have a lot of stake riding on it, positioned as the debut model in Bajaj Auto's new Urbanite EV vertical. And it's got a legendary name with a lot of legacy to live up to as well. So, how does it compare to the 'benchmark' in the electric scooter space? We spent some time with both scooters to try and get some answers.
Also Read: Chetak Electric Scooter Review
The Ather 450 X has sharp lines, with a futuristic design. The exposed frame, neat LED headlamps and the curved plastic panels all lend the 450X a futuristic, space-age vibe. There's segment-best underseat storage space of 22 litres too, enough to gobble a full-faced helmet, and the only scooter with so much space under the seat. Overall, it's a modern looking scooter, with a futuristic shape, sharp lines and curves, and comes loaded with features.
In comparison, the Chetak has a more conventional design, and it's almost familiar, because it does somewhat resemble the Vespa Elettrica. But look closer, and the fit and finish of the Chetak is superb; and it's a handsome looking thing. Every small detail is finished in high-quality, from the all-LED lights, slow shut seat design, glove box compartment lid, down to the soft-touch switches.
Also Read: Ather 450X Review
Tech & Ergonomics
On technology too, it's the Ather 450X, which has the edge. It has a TFT screen with Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a new Android-based touchscreen interface. And the feature list is long, with ride statistics, incoming calls, music playback, remote monitoring, satellite navigation, and over-the-air updates. And these are powered by a 4G SIM, and riders can also pair their smartphone through Bluetooth. The features can either be used from the touchscreen, or from a toggle switch on the handlebar. But the floorboard is somewhat tall, and even though it's not outright uncomfortable, the rider still has to bend his knees somewhat while straddling the Ather 450X.
The Chetak also gets a digital instrument console, and there are a fair bit of features, centred around the LCD console. It has a black and white theme, with neatly laid out fonts. And there's Bluetooth connectivity too, through a dedicated My Chetak app for Android and iOS. And once you hook up your smartphone via Bluetooth, you can control music playback from the left handlebar, and yes, the LCD display also shows real time range, state of charge, the time and odometer and trip meter readings. Through the My Chetak app you can also access features like vehicle location, vehicle status and also install geo-fencing for security. But it still isn't as comprehensive or as high-tech as the Ather 450's. But the seating position of the Chetak is more natural, more comfortable, almost like any other internal combustion engine scooter.
Performance & Dynamics
On the move, it's immediately apparent which scooter has more performance. In the new Warp Mode, the Ather 450 X surges ahead with urgency, and will top out at 85 kmph; more than enough for quick dashes in and around the city. With a kerb weight of 108 kg, the Ather 450X is also the lighter scooter. But the sitting position is somewhat of a compromise with knees bent slightly over the high footboard. And over speedbreakers and potholes, the Ather's ride feels harsh, and ever so slightly bumpy.
Complementing its looks, the Chetak actually 'feels' conventional too. Everything about it is easy; neutral riding position, comfortable ride, and easy handling. Unlike the Ather, the Chetak's low end isn't so urgent, but the mid-range is strong enough to keep up with other traffic. It's only at the top end where the Chetak disappoints, topping off at just 70 kmph. But where the Chetak scores is in its easy rideability, and nicely balanced ride quality. As far as range is concerned, both scooters topped out at around 80 km on a single charge, and limped back after half a day of hard riding with barely enough charge left.
Prices & Variants
Eventually, it will boil down to pricing and where these scooters are currently available, or will be available. The Ather 450X is only available in Chennai and Bengaluru, and its pricing depends on the subscription package you opt for, each with different range and performance. The Plus package will set you back by ₹ 1.40 lakh, while the top-spec Pro package will cost ₹ 1.60 lakh. In comparison, the Chetak electric is the less expensive of the two, with prices beginning at ₹ 1.15 lakh for the Urbane variant (with front drum brake), and ₹ 1.20 lakh for the Premium variant, with front disc brake. And Bajaj intends to make the Chetak available across 24 cities by 2022.
Also Read: Chetak Bookings Temporarily Suspended
If you're looking for an answer which one is the better scooter, there's no definite answer to that because they're both very good scooters. Of course, the Chetak comes at a lower price point; it's the more affordable scooter, the design is more contemporary, and more conventional. Overall, the Chetak comes across as the more comfortable scooter because its riding position is very nice, ride quality is very good, and overall, it's the easier and more comfortable scooter to ride, performance notwithstanding.
But if you look at features and performance, it's the Ather which trumps the Chetak. It's got more performance, and its styling is more avant-garde than the conventional looking Chetak. And it's got more features; it's got built-in navigation, over-the-air updates, and a whole lot of features. More importantly, the Ather 450X has better performance, with top speed of 85 kmph, whereas the Chetak will only do about 70 kmph. Range-wise they are both more or less equally placed, but they are both at different price points, for different customers. Eventually, it will boil down to personal choice, and ease of availability and usage, to choose one over the other.