The 125 cc scooter segment is slowly, but surely gaining ground in India, as more and more consumers seek some more power from their automatic scooters. The latest entrant in this segment is from Hero MotoCorp, and the Hero Destini 125 is the company's first 125 cc scooter. Now, Hero has a unique strategy in the 125 cc scooter segment. The Destini 125 is positioned as a family scooter; so it's got a universally acceptable design, unique and handy features, and a price tag which is more in the 110 cc scooter range than what 125 cc scooters cost. Couple that with a frugal engine, and Hero's massive sales and service network, as well as improving roads and infrastructure in rural India, you could say Hero's product planners are bang on with positioning the Destini 125. And it could be Hero's ticket to grabbing a big slice of the booming scooter market pie.
Also Read: Hero Destini 125 Review
Problem is, the 125 cc scooter segment already has several very capable products, each offering its own USP, from the segment leader Suzuki Access 125, and down to the two Hondas - the Activa 125, and the Grazia, as well as two relatively new offerings - the Suzuki Burgman Street and the TVS NTorq 125. Of course, there are the more sporty and trendy offerings from Piaggio, including the Aprilia SR125 as well as the Vespa 125. In a way, the Destini 125 has its job cut out, to make a mark in this segment, but it also has to wean away market interest from TVS Motor Company's flagship NTorq 125, which now has a considerable fan following, and has the performance to thrill too.
Design and Features
The Hero Destini 125's design isn't something extraordinary or radical. Hero's product planning and design team decided to keep its looks understated and universally appealing, rather than make an out and out trendy or overtly stylish scooter. That's not a bad thing, considering it's, after all, targeted at members of the whole family, rather than a specific demographic or age group. The rear section of the Destini 125 though bears quite some resemblance to Hero MotoCorp's very own 110 cc Hero Duet, and the overall silhouette isn't very different from any other scooter that you see on the streets. The front apron though, particularly on the Destini 125 VX version with its chrome embellishments, bears a striking resemblance to the Honda Aviator. It's a conventional looking design overall, but good looking in its own way.
On the features list, the Destini 125 boasts of a segment-first idle-start-stop system, or i3S as Hero calls it, seen on some of the company's popular commuter motorcycles like the Hero Splendor iSmart. A large blue button on the left handlebar can activate or deactivate the start-stop-system; what it does is, if you're idling at a stop light for 5 seconds or more, the engine automatically turns off. A pull on either of the brake levers, and some throttle input brings the engine back to life. It's designed to for convenience as well as to conserve fuel in our crowded cities, but in bumper to bumper crawling traffic, the i3S system becomes somewhat of a hindrance. The part-analogue, part-digital instrument panel works well, but looks a generation old, although the side stand down indicator is handy. What the Destini 125 also packs is a very useful multi-function ignition key - and you can open the seat hatch from the same slot, as well as open the external fuel lid remotely.
Comparatively, the TVS NTorq 125 has a completely different design language. Sharp creases, trendy graphics, and bright colours lend the NTorq 125 youthful appeal. It's certainly not meant to appeal to older riders, but young riders, of both sexes, will find the NTorq's design fresh and exciting. The NTorq 125 also has better road presence overall, and its unique features like the segment first Bluetooth connectivity, a dedicated app, and a long list of information on the full-digital instrument panel, including a Sport Mode which displays lap timers, and top speed indicator.
The Smart Connect feature also offers a 'do not disturb' function while riding, SMS alerts, call alerts as well as turn by turn navigation. The NTorq 125 also features an engine kill switch, and you can lock the handlebar from the ignition key itself. But to open the seat hatch or the fuel lid, you will have to remove the key and move on to the rear section of the left side panel and use the key in a separate slot.
Also Read: TVS NTorq 125 Vs Suzuki Burgman Street
Performance, Ride & Handling
On the move, both scooters offer the extra punch expected from a 125 cc scooter. These two scooters are almost evenly matched in terms of output and engine specifications. The Destini 125 is powered by a 124.6 cc, single-cylinder, two-valve engine which pumps out 8.7 bhp at 6750 rpm and 10.2 Nm of peak torque at 5000 rpm. The variomatic transmission is seamless in operation and in traffic, the Destini 125 is eager to picks up speed from stop light to stop light.
Its kerb weight of 111.5 kg is not among the lightest in the segment, but the weight is well-distributed, and it feels eager to go, and is easy to handle. The telecospic front suspension offers a planted feel, but the small 10-inch front wheel doesn't make it feel as sure-footed as the NTorq does. And the lack of a front disc brake, even as an option, makes hard braking a not so confident manoeuvre, despite the intergrated braking system, which activates both brakes simultaneously. The Destini 125 also feels slightly bouncy over road undulations. Overall, it's not exactly a sporty handler, but can manage the daily commute without fuss.
The NTorq 125 is also powered by a 124.79 cc, single-cylinder engine, but the NTorq's engine comes with three valves, and that makes it smoother in acceleration. The NTorq 125 also makes more power, with 9.3 bhp kicking in at 7500 rpm, and peak torque of 10.5 Nm at 5500 rpm. With 116.1 kg kerb weight, the NTorq 125 is also the heavier scooter, but it accelerates faster than the Destini 125 and can achieve high speeds quicker.
While the Destini struggles at speeds of 90 kmph, the NTorq 125 feels effortless and eager to achieve those speeds and more. The NTorq 125 also gets telescopic front suspension, but a larger 12-inch front wheel, with a standard front disc brake makes the NTorq a better handler and with better stopping power if you want to shed speed in a hurry. On the ride too, the NTorq feels more planted and inspires more confidence with a supple and taut ride.
|Hero Destini 125||TVS Ntorq 125|
|Engine Type||Air-cooled, two-valve||Air-cooled, 3-valve|
|Engine Dispacement||124.6 cc||124.79 cc|
|Maximum Power||8.7 bhp @ 6750 rpm||9.27 bhp @ 7500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||10.2 Nm @ 5000 rpm||10.5 Nm @ 5500 rpm|
|Rear Suspension||Single coil spring||Gas Filled Coil Spring|
|Front Brakes||Drum||220 mm disc|
|Rear Brakes||Drum||130 mm drum|
|Ground Clearance||155 mm||155 mm|
|Kerb Weight||111.5 kg||116.1 kg|
|Price||₹ 54,650 (ex-showroom)||₹ 59,900 (ex-showroom)|
The TVS NTorq 125 certainly ticks all the right boxes as a complete, well-rounded product. It's got modern looks, segment first smartphone connectivity and a dedicated app, and is an absolute hoot to ride. In pure riding dynamics, it's the NTorq 125 which comes out top in all aspects, and even though the Destini 125 will satisfy most riders, it just isn't as engaging to ride as the NTorq is. The TVS also manages to look edgy, stylish and attractive, but where the Hero scores is in its universal appeal; every member of the family, regardless of age and sex will welcome the Destini's conservative design. The Destini 125 also offers slightly better fuel economy (around 42-45 kmpl), while the NTorq 125 is slightly thirsty (around 40-42 kmpl).
Where the Destini 125 scores is also on the pricing; at ₹ 54,650 (ex-showroom Delhi) for the base LX version, the Destini 125 is now the most affordable 125 cc scooter available in the market. Comparatively, the TVS NTorq 125 is available in just one variant and costs ₹ 5,000 more (at ₹ 59,900 ex-showroom Delhi). If that price difference makes a significant case, as well as Hero's easily accessible sales and service network, the Destini 125 certainly makes a compelling case, but if it's style, substance and performance you're looking for, it's the TVS NTorq 125 which should be the obvious choice, even if it comes at a slight price premium.
(Photography: Azam Siddiqui & Rakesh Singh)