Bhargav TS

 

After introducing India’s first two-seater moped – TVS 50, the TVS Motor Company has constantly developed new products both in motorbikes and scooters. After splitting up with Suzuki in 2001, TVS developed its first commuter bike, the Victor, which was a grand success for the company. To taste more success in the commuter segment, TVS brought in Star branded motorcycles, which have crossed the sales mark of more than 30 lakh units since inception. After launching the brand in 2004, TVS has constantly upgraded it with new features, styling and refreshing graphics at regular intervals.

IMG_2022Now to meet growing demand and competition, the two-wheeler maker has refreshed the Star City with major changes and launched it as the Star City Plus. It has been a tradition with TVS Motor Company to add a ‘plus’ to the name of any vehicle upgraded; earlier Scooty Pep was upgraded and renamed as ‘Scooty Pep Plus’, and now comes a brand new two wheeler from the TVS stable – Star City Plus. Normally, the refreshed models will just have cosmetic updates, but this time TVS has brought out a new vehicle, new except in name.

The new Star City Plus looks similar to the previous model but detailed examination shows that the vehicle has a number of new things in it; most of the design is inspired from the previously launched TVS Phoenix 125.The vehicle looks sharper because of the new fuel tank design, which has pronounced creases that also help in achieving better knee room. This new design language on the Star City Plus is classified as ‘modern flow motion style’ and the future range of commuter bikes will also bear similar styling. The vehicle gets a three-dimensional stylish logo, which is molded out of special fibre to get a striking look and feel. To add to the style quotient further, it has got honeycomb textured grill on the side panel but this does not add to functionality. At the rear, City Plus has got aluminium grab-rail, which is said to be ergonomically designed, to provide a reassuring grip to the pillion rider. But thinking beyond, it also reduces some weight compared to the conventionally used grab-rail.

All-New Advanced 110cc Ecothrust EngineThe heart of the Star City Plus is the upgraded and down-sized EcoThrust engine, which was earlier powering Phoenix 125. In order to give more power and efficiency, the engineers have redesigned the engine to compete with the segment leaders. The 109.7cc single cylinder, twin-valve, air cooled engine produces 8.3PS of max power and a torque of 8.7Nm, thus making the vehicle reasonably powerful in the low and mid range. The throttle response is smooth and the engine feels adequately refined at speeds between 50-60 kmph.

2014-06-17 08.17.38Considering city driving conditions, the company has improved the pickup and acceleration by having higher capacity paper air filter. Further, the reduction of carburetor size results in achieving 5% more fuel economy compared with its other two-wheelers. Moreover, carburetor optimisation aids in better charge preparation with inlet port providing high charge motion, triggered by an intelligent ignition system which offers optimum spark based on speed and load to ensure the Star City Plus delivers better torque at all engine speeds.

Once you push the accelerator above 80-85 kmph, the engine starts gasping indicating the need for more power. But if you look at the mid range the vehicle performs effortlessly in the city traffic. It is understood that the company has mainly focused on achieving better fuel economy rather than producing more power. There is always a trade off; either to have better fuel economy or to have more power. Here, TVS has designed the engine to achieve best-in class mileage that mainly targets the commuter segment, which always looks for better fuel economy. Towards this, the company has completed a few mechanical changes in the engine to achieve better mileage.

While looking into the component changes, the new engine has got molybdenum coated piston that ensures reduced friction within the cylinder for better combustion, improving engine life by 40%. Its advanced technology manages the variables of speed, rider weight and ride conditions in such a way as to arrive at an optimal ignition curve that yields better pick-up and a best-in-class mileage of 86 kmpl (under test conditions). Speaking to Auto Components India, Vinay Harne, President – NPD, TVS Motor Company said, “While developing the engine we focused on achieving better fuel economy and constant power delivery across the range; therefore we have used projected spark plugs and optimised the intake port. Apart from that we have used roller bearings on the engine rocker arms that work within its head to cut friction and improve fuel economy. Moreover, the consumption of fuel has been minimised by using series type charger which draws less energy from the magneto that rotates with the crankshaft to save that 10% of extra fuel being burned.”

IMG_1998TVS has also used a high energy coil with a step-less ignition map for more efficient combustion across the rev and load range. As soon as the engine is cranked, it is evident that sound is subdued and there is less noise and vibration because of the use of a silent cam chain, which reduces noise drastically. It’s only when the engine is revved close to the redline that it gets vibration and noise, which is felt in the handlebar and tank. The engine, matted to a 4-speed gearbox, is very smooth, combined with a light clutch that further enhances driving pleasure.

5-Step Adjustable Shock AbsorbersThe two-wheeler maker has also used a tubular single cradle steel frame with box section swing arm, which helps in better driving dynamics. It is well supported by the five-speed adjustable shock absorbers at the rear and telescopic fork in front. The multi position shock absorbers in the rear with 5 different settings absorb vibrations from all the potholes and speed breakers easily. The suspension works very well even in the worst road conditions and doesn’t harm your back. All these help toward good riding comfort in all working conditions. Company officials said that riding comfort was one of the key concerns for the target customers; they have spent a lot of time and effort ensuring that both the ride quality and handling are at least as good as the competition.

Multi-function ConsoleFurther adding to comfort level is the newly designed seat; the company has identified the hot spots in the seat, which cause discomfort during long drives. The new seat is designed with the help of the seat supplier – Harita Seating Systems. As a result, the seating ergonomics have been improved with large and fashionable seats that provide comfort over short commutes. The riding position is also well balanced because of the neatly designed seat, handlebar and footrest. All these three complement one another by maintaining correct distance between the handlebar, seat, and the height of the seat from the footrests that makes for better roominess, easy ride and relaxed seating positions.

Premium Crome MufflerFeatures wise, it offsets the previous edition by having a partial digital layout for trip and fuel indication, with an econometer to achieve higher fuel economy by using the throttle in accordance with the light. It gets electric start and alloy wheels as standard fitment. It has 130mm drum brake in front and 110mm drum brake at the rear which lack in sharpness. The bike is also equipped with Duragrip tyres, which offer extra 12% superior grip and 20% additional durability. The new tyre was co-developed by TVS Tyres; it has a new tread pattern and unique compounding that brings in adequate grip for the bike.

When comparing Star City Plus with its competitors, it is clear that the bike has features rich in content, and is priced very aggressively. The overall build quality is impressive too and feels premium because of the plastic quality and riding comfort. Already in the commuter segment, TVS has its own competition and now with this new avatar it has more potential to shake up the entire segment, provided the marketing strategy goes right. 

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