TVS' aggressive product launch strategy over the past two years is very hard to miss. Following the Jupiter and the Phoenix, TVS recently launched a much-needed upgrade to its commuter bike, the TVS Star City. However, the upgrade is much more comprehensive than the '+' suggests.
The bike was first showcased at the Auto Expo 2014. Immediately, it was evident that TVS had worked on the styling of the motorcycle. Visually, the Star City+ looks entirely different from its predecessor. Noticeable changes to the body panels on the fuel tank and the headlamp cowl along with the exhaust and the panels under the rear seat have been redesigned.
Overall quality has also gone up on the Star City+. Build quality is significantly better, with better quality switches and sturdier levers at the fingers and the feet. The company has also provided the bike with a refreshed instrument cluster, with a small digital screen doubling up as a fuel level indicator and odometer. The centre portion is taken up by a big speedometer in a white background. Other indicators for service check, neutral, high beam and turn indicators surround this big display.
Ergonomically, the Star City+ scores highly. Almost every switch and leg rest is where you'd expect them to be. However, the pass switch is positioned pretty high, needing a reaching finger. As far as the riding position is concerned, the rider takes a rather upright riding posture. However, thanks to the well-positioned handle bar, you don't have to swoop down too much. This position would go well with the young audience that TVS has in mind for this bike.
TVS has provided the Star City+ with the EcoThrust engine that also powers the TVS Wego and the TVS Jupiter. The different engine gives the new model a very slight upgrade in power of about 0.12 hp and 0.6 Nm. This increase in power, however, is available at a much lower 5,000 rpm instead of the 7,000 rpm it was at in the previous version.
This translates to a significant change in the riding of the Star City+. The bike makes for easy and hasty riding till 65-70 kph. Running through the four-speed gearbox is smooth and provides good acceleration. The bike is eager to get you out of stand still and can make for some fun riding in traffic conditions. Darting through the gaps in city traffic is made easy with the Star City+'s frame that's ready to shift direction at your guiding.
However, ask of the bike to power you past the 70 kph mark and it would protest, rather audibly. The engine peters out around the 60 kph, to which it will eagerly climb. Anything more is a bit of a struggle and above 70 kph really stresses the engine. There's just not enough power to give. Thankfully, this does not translate to vibration on the handles and foot pegs at higher speeds, as the bike is very stable even when the engine struggles to go in sync with the throttle.
An issue with the bike IAB was provided with was the fuel indicator. The indicator had a mind of its own, showing 2 bars at one point and 4 after you turn the bike off and on again. TVS would do well to investigate for problems with the fuel level sensor.
What does work extremely well in the bike is the brakes. The drum brakes at both ends provide more than adequate stopping power and inspires a lot of confidence, egging you to explore the sweet spot of the bike between the 2nd and the 4th gears where it really comes to life. Combine the very able brakes with the Star City+'s suspension and you have a very enjoyable experience. The telescopic suspension at the front and the 5-step adjustable suspension at the rear make for an extremely supple ride, gliding you over the soft mounds and pot holes. Specially developed tyres from TVS Tyres also pitch in to give some great grip on city roads.
In many ways, the Star City+ is a Hail Mary for TVS in the commuter segment. Pitted against the likes of the Honda Dream Yuga, Mahindra Centuro and Hero's numerous offerings, the Star City+ simply had to perform for the company to make any dent on the segment. The company's engineers and designers have complied with the demands of the segment, though, you do feel an engine kill switch in a bike that can be started on any gear at the push of a button wouldn't be too much to ask for.
The baton now rests with the company's sales and marketing teams to sell what is clearly an able product. Priced at INR 44,000, the bike only needs to be pitched well and it won't be long before the consumers will lap this one up.