Will the slingshot help Suzuki succeed in the two-wheeler market the way it has carved its progress in the four-wheeler territory?
Suzuki is yet to make considerable inroads in the two-wheeler segment. The well-equipped Access scooter remains its best mass market product to date.
Will the 125cc Slingshot meet the Indian market's unique requirements? We find out.
Design and engineering
The Slingshot at first glance shows that it is a Suzuki. This new bike uses a bi-colour paint scheme, the ever popular black blending into the primary colour. The front is decidedly GSX, with a powerful bright headlight leading straight into the instruments. Buyers will get to choose from the vintage looking spoke wheels, or a much smarter set of alloy wheels.
Instrumentation is modern, clear to read, with a large speedometer, prominent fuel gauge and even a gear indicator with beacons to inform riders about the gear they have engaged. Suzuki's ditched the twin horns available with its Zeus for a single horn on the Slingshot, but continues to provide the luxury of a pass-light switch as well as engine-kill option on the new bike. Switchgear is up there with the best, as is feel from the control levers. The palm grips offer really good grip; Suzuki has also taken care of a Zeus bugbear by allowing the Slingshot handlebar to be locked on either side via the ignition key. We like the mirrors on this new Suzuki, as also its smartly shaped fuel tank, despite its dated-looking fuel tank cap.
The Slingshot comes with a smart, angular cowl located under its engine, and a neat exhaust shroud. This bike has smartly sculpted side panels but the tail disappoints a bit, where the fairing ends in a grab-bar and brake lamp, both lack the design flair like the rest of the bike.
Overall fit and finish is good, as are paint lustre, rubber and plastic quality.
Engine and performance
The engine is the same four-stroke, single-cylinder, air-cooled 124cc engine of the older Zeus. This button-started two-valve powerplant benefits from some tweaks to its carburettor, clutch and ignition system. The five-speed gearbox shifts precisely in the universal, one-down, four-up configuration with a superlative feel, via a heel-and-toe lever.
Suzuki has done well to ensure the Slingshot engine always runs smoothly, with a broad and vibe-free power band. However, it feels woefully underpowered — no more than 8.7bhp of power is available at 7000rpm, and 1.01kgm of torque made at 3500rpm. The older Zeus lacked enough pep too, so it's surprising Suzuki did not improve engine efficiency for the new Slingshot, despite the bike now weighing a hefty 14kg more.
This void robs the bike of riding pleasure, which makes the Slingshot feel more like a 100cc bike. The Slingshot takes all of 8.69 seconds to get past 60kph from a standing start , and passes 80kph in 18.37seconds. Top speed is healthy and the new Suzuki is capable of a genuine 100kph.
Ride and handling
The bike is a comfortable commuter with high handlebars and an upright riding posture heading down to forward-set footrests. It comes with 18-inch rims, and a single downtube frame that uses a dated tubular swingarm. The soft seat padding doesn't help its cause over long durations yet city commuting feels comfortable. The broad 12-litre fuel tank with its nicely sculpted thigh recesses offers some consolation..
The Slingshot has extended its wheelbase in comparison to the Zeus with a 25mm longer swingarm, and also provides adjustable rear shock absorbers that were missing from the earlier motorcycle. Ride quality is decent as are the Slingshot's handling and cornering manners. Its weight and longer wheelbase does not make the bike as nimble as the Zeus but handling remains light and confident, with the Slingshot just as capable around corners as any Indian 125cc bike.
Our quickest stop from 60kph on the drum brake-equipped Slingshot took 21.74 metres. Suzuki will shortly be launching a disc brake version of the Slingshot.
This is where most commuter bikes win or lose the battle in India. The Slingshot returned good figures, delivering 53.2kpl in the city and 57.5kpl on the highway.