“Mahindra, as we all know, is one company which banks heavily upon customer feedback a lot, which is clearly visible in all their products. A little less known in this two wheeler business, they continue this practice coming here as well. After three years in this business, we have at least got one hang of this company – its mindset of continuous improvement on existing products.
Towards the end of last month, we were invited by Mahindra where they unveiled the latest ‘improvement’ of their existing 125cc scooter Duro, christened as Duro DX – an idea probably taken from Honda. HMSI is known for this ‘DX’ (rather ‘DLX’) badging on their vehicles which are mostly not more than added stickerworks and jazzy paintjobs (which obviously are charged extra).
However, Mahindra has gone a little ahead and has promised a lot more than mere cosmetic enhancements with this added ‘DX’. So, what has changed and do the changes really bring a fruitful result on the Duro? Let our author Saad Khan talk about it, in-depth!” – Deepak, BikeAdvice.in
Mahindra Duro DX 125 Review & Test Ride
Back in November 2009, I had test ridden the Duro (along with its brethren Rodeo) and I was surprisingly impressed by the scooter. It served as a very promising tool for all kinds of zesty point A to B transport. I also had written about the shortcomings and it seems Mahindra was reading it all through to prepare a list of “All what needs to be upgraded/improved” before beginning their project Duro DX. During the course of this article you would also understand the gravity of homework Mahindra has put in this evolved model. Also, I would refer to the existing Duro as ‘STD’ (as in standard) for clear demarcation. What’s the wait then? Let’s talk!
Styling, Build & Design
Majorly inspired from the Kinetic Nova 135, little changes have been made in the overall styling of Duro DX over the standard existing standard version. Starting from the front – the most striking change you would notice is the revamped headlamp which was rectangular on the STD version.
The headlamp on the DX version looks largely inspired from the rival Suzuki’s Access 125 and now forms a broad octagonal kinda shape with curvier edges. ‘Mahindra’ logo also rests a little lower on the chest of the scooter which was almost on the neck on the STD model. The logo decal itself is a little changed as well: earlier one was hollow and the new one is on black base. Stickerwork is gone from the front and only ‘Mahindra Duro’ written in vertical gets place. Coming sideways, the scooter remains identical largely with little tinkering done to the decals.
The grab rails are also changed and the new ones are more basic in nature from the jazzy double layered earlier ones on the STD version. At the back, ‘Mahindra’ badging moves up with the company logo as well. Side decals now include “125 DX” under “Mahindra Duro” tag.
As internal as I could see, even the ‘PowerScooter’ tag is nowhere to be found on the scooter. Another addition to the scooter’s looks enhancement goes to the MRF Nylogrip Zappers, seriously. One little downer as far as styling part goes is the inclusion of 4 point mounting on the wheels. While the STD variant’s 3 point mounted wheels looked more stylish with an ‘alloy wheels’ kind of appearance, the DX’s looks more conventional scooter wheels. I, somehow, also happen to see a bare basic looking Duro STD variant without any stickers (apart from the company and model name) sometime back and it looked gorgeous in white. Mahindra has cut down on the stickers on the DX variant and it does help a lot on the styling front.
I have always liked vehicles with minimal or no additional jazzywork. The Duro DX definitely looks more proportionate and striking than the existing STD variant, its leaner and smarter. Build quality has also definitely increased with better quality of paintwork and plastics. The tinee-minee gaps are also not many to find and the overall packing work seems to have been done with proper care. Fit and finishing does seem to be a step ahead.
Engine, Performance & Mileage
While testing the existing Duro STD, I was very impressed by its engine response. The 124.6cc engine remains largely the same producing 8 bhp of power and 9Nm of healthy torque peaking at 7000 rpm and 5500 rpm respectively and now features a dual curve Digital Ignition which, according to Mahindra is a big difference in the new Duro DX as it enhances the power delivery along with being more fuel efficient.
I tried to extract the same result from the new engine; however, I found that the keenness to move forward is a little traded off for fuel efficiency, which would have been one major goal of Mahindra. Another reason of this difference was the increase in weight of the scooter: it has grown fatter by a wholesome 9 kgs and as a result the new DX variant does lose out on the agility with respect to the existing STD version. While the initial push from standstill is really one trait I like about this engine, the scooter feels a little lethargic on mid to mid-higher revs when compared to the STD version.
Duro DX manages to hop from naught to 30 kmph really keenly, power after that is also decent till 50 kmph, but that’s probably the end somewhere there! Anything over 60 kmph and you are in for a teatime run. The scooter takes its own sweet little time to gather momentum and speed. I could also hear some kind of noise for an instant when the scooter is throttled madly from standstill. Probably a unit related issue, I would passby. On inclines, Duro DX needs efforts to keep it in increasing momentum.
However, the load carrying capability of the scooter is one real big boon for our kind of usage. I, fortunately, got an opportunity to ride with a pillion for a short duration and seriously did not find any significant drop in the response of the engine. Duro DX feels as eager to move forward as with only a solo rider. Engine note just after the start is a little higher, but settles down to a smoother echo once in motion. Though not in the leagues of the japs, still, engine feel is also fairly refined at all revs. At higher revs also, vibrations are kept minimum. Ride quality is very good and provides for a plush and non-tiring experience. The speedo indicated top speed I could achieve was 75 kmph on a straight road, did not account the speeds downhill.
A few of the most reported issues by customers also included lower and inconsistent fuel efficiency from Duro. Mahindra seems to have taken a deep note of it (Dual curve ignition is probably based on the same thought) and the figures under IDC (Indian Driving Conditions stand at 53 kmpl. If these figures are an indication of anything we could deduce, it would be a fantastic bargain if this scoot returns anything around 45kmpl.
Convenienece & Comfort
Duro DX comes with a host of conveniences and smart features like…
- Bigger fuel tank:There are scooters in the market with front fuelling including the little sister – Rodeo, however, the loss is a lower capacity fuel tank. With Duro, you get a large 6 liter capacity petrol tank. With an expected fuel efficiency figures of 45-46kmpl, a rider can ride freely till 270-275 kms before the need for refueling.
- Larger Storage Space: Though a little lower than Rodeo’s 22 liters, Duro DX’s storage space at 20 liters is large and generous to store a full size helmet neatly along with a decent sized ladies purse.
- Front Storage compartment: Mahindra has used the available space to the scooters advantage. While other companies provide the front storage at an additional charge, it is standard on the Duro DX. Though not large, but it is useful for carrying a men’s wallet, mobile plus a little more of such tiny stuff. Plus, it doesn’t hinder the legs in any way.
- Higher scooter neck: One little thing which I noticed was the obstruction larger human knees do to the handle bar during more than acute handle turns on normal scooters. Mahindra has ensured that this is not the case with Duro DX. I, at slightly higher than 5’9” was really comfortable with my knees having adequate gap with the handlebar ends.
- Massive Leg room: One big advantage with the Duro DX is its ample amount of leg room. As I have mentioned earlier, a user can carry a substantially larger entity at the front in cases of need.
- Broader Seat: Mahindra informed us that they considered 40 seat (designs) before putting the current one! Good job I must say. I found the seat comforting and padded enough just that the pointed-ness starts a little too early and it might have been slightly better with wider base at the front. Nonetheless, cushioning is good and you will not get exhausted even after long rides, I didn’t.
- Broader Headlamp: The broader headlamp which adds to the looks of the scooter also adds to the safety point of view of the scooter. However, since it was all bright in the day, we could not test the brightness but as promised by Mahindra, both the length and width of throw of light is said to have increased.
- Brake Lever Lock: Now this is one thing which should have been here at the first place! Come on Mahindra, it took you two decades to bring this basic safety feature on your scooter. Anyways, Duro DX does come with a brake lock lever to block your scooter to roll over when parked on an incline.
- Fantastic Rear View Mirrors: Now these have to be really one of the best rear view mirrors I would have seen in scooters. Fantastically functional, they give you a complete view of whats happening ‘behind your back’.
- Upright seating posture: While larger human souls find it tougher to spread their legs on normal scooters, Duro DX provides them with enough to stretch and the seating posture remains very upright with almost every organ rightly placed. Seating posture is pretty comfortable.
Instrumentation & Overall Behavior
The looks of the all analogue instrument cluster have changed. In place of the rounded white background speedo and fuel gauge on the existing Duro, the newer Duro DX has a neater all black and all in one theme. The speedo calibrated till an optimistic 120 kmph redlines at anything over 80 kmph. The fuel gauge and upper beam indicator are housed in this oval shaped housing. To either of the sides are placed the respective side blinker indicators. I liked the earlier one; I like the console more on the Duro DX. It’s simple and elegant.
Mahindra is promoting the longer wheelbase of Duro DX which measures 1270 mm, however, the wheels have come closer by 20mm from Duro STD (1290 mm). Still, Duro DX has one of the longest wheelbases among scooters. With this huge a gap between both the tyres, cornering does take a setback but the inclusion of much needed better tyres help a lot, a lot I say! As we have advised in our Duro STD roadtest, all the scooters which Mahindra has given to journos, were shod with very functional MRF Nylogrip Zappers. The end result is better handling scooter and phenomenal grip at almost all conditions. Under extremely sudden braking, the scooter remained very poised and did not lose control at all. This was not the case with the earlier CEAT Secura loaded Duro STD versions and the DX version definitely has a much better braking bite. When asked about this change, Mahindra said that based on availability with different vendors these scooters might come with other tyres as well. However, I sincerely suggest them to stick with MRF Nylogrip Zappers on all their variants. Also, the side stand is not very ergonomically placed, rider has to stretch his legs forward (a little more than needed) to reach out to pull it in action.
Another massive change is the inclusion of telescopic shock absorbers in place of the conventional unit link on the Duro STD. This makes a world of good to the scooter. It is better at shock absorption, better at handling and cornering, more stable at high speeds and provides the much needed cushion from the spine braking Indian roads.
A vast majority of Duro users complained about the lower ground clearance (140mm) of Duro and as a result, the new scooter is raised a little. The new figure provided by Mahindra tells that Duro DX stands 155mm taller from the ground. Though this is a considerable 15mm gain but still lesser than Suzuki Access’ figure of 160mm. Digging a little deeper, we understand that the figure reported in ‘On the wheels and without riders’ which really doesn’t make much of a sense. According to Mahindra, when we have a single rider weighing 75 kgs riding, the Access goes lower by as much as 26mm but Duro’s ground clearance falls only by 8mm. When both the scooters are loaded with a total weight of 150 kgs of a rider and pillion (both weighing 75 kgs) Access goes as low as 114mm above the ground whereas Duro DX stands as taller as 127mm. I would second this because the suspension does seem to be stiffer. However, the end result of the raised ground clearance is an increased saddle height: Yes, saddle height stands taller by 20mm at 790mm. Along with this, a chubbier weight increment of 9 kgs (kerb weight is now 114 kgs) it would make Duro DX a little uncomfortably taller and heavier for females, definitely a not so welcome move by Mahindra.
With a plethora of changes – both favorable and not so favorable, I would put the ball in Mahindra’s court. If they can price this reasonably and sensibly they have a very good product in hand, else things might backfire. No doubt that Duro DX, with all its added enhancements, is a better product than Duro STD, and a very very competent one with respect to the competition. But it’s the pricing which matters a lot here.
With the indications given to us, Duro STD would continue to exist and this means that Mahindra is planning to keep Duro DX as a higher variant of Duro obviously at a premium. Both Suzuki’s Access and Honda’s Activa retail at a price bracket of 51-52k on road Pune and the existing Duro STD sells at 48k. This leaves us with a very little room for Mahindra to play with.
Ideally, Mahindra should discontinue the STD version and launch the DX at similar prices and a difference of 4k is enough to give this scooter the much needed USP. But if Mahindra has other plans (which they do have), they have to leave a major part of the success factor of this product in taking advantage of competition’s heavenly waiting periods and investing heavily and innovatively in marketing this aloud.
As we were told, Mahindra plans to launch Duro DX latest by the second week of December 2011 and announce the pricing only then. We are as eager as you might be, in knowing what lies ahead, but to reveal the true fact, Duro does have it in it to enhance Mahindra’s sales tally manifold as a product, rest lies on company’s strategies and policies. This is one family scooter which can carry heavier pillion with relative ease, can lug around with more stuff is expected to be frugal and above all, it would give you a better ride.
- Initial push
- Telescopic Shockups
- Brighter broader headlamp
- MRF tyres
- Storage space
- Rear View Mirrors
- Increased weight
- Mid & high range
- Possible price increase over STD variant taking away the VFMness of the product
- Increased saddle height
Author – BikeAdvice.in