TVS Scooty Pep vs Kinetic Zing - Scooty do

I am, for reasons of physical stature and gender, far removed from what scooterette makers tell me are the target buyers for the little runabouts. Trapping a knee under the handlebar, or being too darn tall for the thing – and consequent negative reactions – are supposedly perfectly normal.

Despite all of which I have to confess my liking for the Scooty Pep, the latest entrant and the only four-stroke in a segment populated by old models like the big-smiled Bajaj Spirit and the slick TVS Scooty. But if you are expecting a straight fight between the Kinetic Zing and the TVS Scooty Pep,  then you are going to be disappointed. You see, this is more an attempt to see if the whopping Rs 10,000 difference in the price tags is justifiable.

So, let’s kick things off with a spin aboard the Pep, shall we? Well, not quite. The Pep needs a proper warm-up. The lean-burn engine, bare minimum fuelling and perhaps a slightly dyslexic auto choke ensure that you can’t just thumb start and roll-off. However, let things warm up a little and the fun begins in earnest. Seriously. The Pep is quite spirited and will filter through traffic with ease, only hesitating marginally when switching between the economy and power modes.The 75 CC four-stroke makes a healthy 4.1 bhp, which is a handy half-horse ahead of the other scooterettes, which make around 3.5 bhp. However, it is a four-stroke, and makes more torque as well. The difference is obvious in real world riding. Where the 63 CC two-stroke Zing will take 7.79 seconds to gust up to 40 kph, the Pep will neatly outdrag it by 0.3 seconds. More importantly, for the odd across-town trip, the Pep does have a 67 kph top speed, of which about 50 kph is easy to see. In fact, while the Zing’s top speed is just shy of 60 kph, the Pep will get to 60 in about 18 seconds, which is just three seconds off the bigger, 92 CC Bajaj Saffire.Not bad, eh? The impressive numbers are delivered with supreme refinement, little noise and no signs of stress from the engine. The Pep is light weight and better engine management, courtesy the Victor-style dual-map digital ignition with a throttle position sensor,obviously helps. The two-stroke, in contrast, has a rorty exhaust note which is a pleasing contrast to the sober hum of the four-stroke, though vibration levels are a notch higher. 

As you can see, the Pep outclasses the two-stroke scooterettes on the performance and powertrain fronts. And that is before we tell you that while the Zing returns around 57 kpl in urban use, the Pep averages around 68 kpl!The ride and handling quality difference is just as obvious. The Pep takes the underbone step-through style frame a step forward, employing what amounts to a double cradle frame in the underbone configuration. Telescopic forks up front and a firm single spring at the back take care of the ride quality. 

The ride is firm, but never harsh, and riding two-up through SUV-size craters will see the springs bottom out infrequently. As a result, the Pep feels more controllable. Great sticky 3.00x10 tyres from TVS and effective 110 mm drums round out a great chassis package. The Zing in comparison feels  lighter and more agile but at the expense of stability. Bump absorption isn’t in the Pep’s league and ride quality feels less sorted. While you’d hardly expect a scooterette rider to go back-road carving, the Pep does not turn up its nose at the opportunity. Sticky rubber, a stiff chassis and firm ride make for a stable handler. The Zing feels more agile but thinner rubber and a relatively bumpy ride does not generate similar levels of confidence.

In dynamic terms too, then, the Pep is a comprehensive step ahead of the two-stroke scooterettes. That brings up the touchy subject of looks. When the Zing came out, I quite liked the family resemblance and boldness in the design. But parked next to the slick, curvy lines of the Pep, however, the Zing looks a bit dated. Something that can easily be fixed by re-articulating that terse headlamp, I think. The Pep’s styling, save for the carbon fibre finish bit, is whole-heartedly feminine – curvaceous, well-detailed and executed, and extremely together. No question then, the Zing may be the best looking of the older scooterettes, but the Pep is definitely the one wearing the winner’s sash and tiara.

Vehicle competence apart, the scooterette’s raison d’etre is to go shopping, carry bags of stuff and occasionally ferry a pillion around, right? The Pep takes these tasks on with gusto. There are two hooks under the seat, a spring-loaded hook up front, a large open cargo space and an even larger under-seat cavity. In comparison, the Zing has a smaller underseat space, and because of its smaller stature, less pillion space and a smaller floorboard to boot. The Pep does have a hitch with its seat lock though. Like the Honda Activa, the Pep’s seat unlocks only while you turn the key, so carrying two shopping bags into the underseat area needs you to put at least one bag down – an irritant. The Zing’s seat pops unlocked and stays so until you push to lock it again, perfect.

As is obvious by now, someone has sat and thought about how good a scooterette could get and the Pep is the result. It’s miles ahead of the two-stroke scooterette on features,performance, refinement... on all fronts. But Rs 10,000 more for it? So we went back and asked TVS what the logic of such high pricing was. TVS argues that the Pep is neither a run-of-the-mill scooterette nor is it for everyone. It isn’t a bridge between the full-size automatic scooter and the scooterette either. It’s simply the best scooterette your money can buy. 

It is aimed at feminine customers who will only ride a scooterette and are looking for options because the current crop isnn’t slick enough for them and/or are forced to buy full vario scoots. And obviously, are willing to pay to exercise that choice.They also go on to point out that the Pep is more fuel-efficient – which we’ve established – and should have noticeably lower running costs. We can’t really argue against that. So do we recommend you one? As far as the Zing goes, it is Rs 4,000 cheaper than the standard two-stroke (old?) Scooty ES and probably represents scooterette value for money at roughly the same price as the kick-start (old) Scooty. But is the Pep more value for more money? 

The TVS Scooty Pep is unquestionably superior, in almost every way, to every other product in the segment. But Rs 10,000 over the Zing still sounds like a lot. Perhaps a more rational way to look at it is to compare it to the similarly spec-ed Scooty. The price difference between the Pep and the TVS Scooty ES – Rs 6,000 – is easy to appreciate and justify. What isn’t, however, is settling for a scooterette when you could have a full-size Honda Activa for just another Rs 4,000.