Driver vs Rider: Featherweight Contenders

Driver vs Rider: Featherweight Contenders

In our Driver vs Rider series, we chose two contenders, a motorcycle and a car. But many a times, one must wonder what our criteria for choosing these contenders are. We are simple people and so is our ideology, the motorcycle and the car must have something in common superficially, mechanically or sometimes, philosophically. Like Angel (Mercedes SLS AMG) vs Demon (Ducati Diavel) or Godzilla (Nissan GT-R) vs Falcon (Suzuki Hayabusa). It is really that simple. This time around, we had a rather practical approach while choosing the contenders- based on the segments they belong to. And the segment we chose, is seemingly raking in all the glory nowadays, the entry-level premium segment.

So, our first contender, the Driver, or the car, comes from Bavaria. From the house of BMW, we have the BMW X1 xDrive20d M-Sport. Oh yeah, we know how exciting that M sounds when it belongs to BMW. The only other time ‘M’ sounds exciting, is when there’s trouble and 007 enters the room. Retiring from MI6, we get to meet the Rider, or the motorcycle from the house of TVS, the stunning Apache RR 310. As we mentioned, our criterion this time around was the entry level premium segment and the vehicles mentioned above are among the best in their respective segments. After that rather long intro, it’s time to get this show on the road.

Most of the times, it’s the two wheels that have all our attention and in order to avoid an uprising, we will start with the car. The BMW X1 xDrive20d M-Sport is an entry-level vehicle, but it takes the word ‘premium’ more seriously (well, it’s German so it’s bound to take something seriously). Right from first look at the car from the outside, one is easily able to figure out why BMW calls this car an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) and not an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle). Although it is no hatch or sedan, but this X from BMW looks surprisingly lithe. Sharp lines, imposing and yet sporty stance are just a few of the things that contribute to the stunning looks of the car. The particular model we got to drive gets the M Sport Package. Which means it gets the M aerodynamic package with front apron, side skirts and wheel arch trims. And, it also gets the M logo on the side, on the wheels and on the car key and yes it is necessary so that one does not mistake it for a regular SUV. SAV, my bad.

One cannot wait outside the car for too long and the premium-ness chases you inside the car where the first things we notice are the paddle-shifters. There’s just something about those flappies that excites us. And then we have the 8.8”, touch-screen, configurable interface with Navigation Plus. Snap it into reverse, and the reverse camera informs you about what’s going on behind your back, the car’s back to be precise. Now another thing we are big suckers for is the heads-up display. There have been quite a few cars that we have driven that have it, but it still feels ‘other-worldly’. The other ‘ordinary’ inclusions are the panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, electronically adjustable for the driver and the passenger, lots of cabin space, start-stop button etc. On this variant, we also have a Hi-Fi loudspeaker system with 7 speakers and a total output of 205 watts, just in case things start to get solitary for the driver.

We guess that you guys are already pretty impressed but hey, the car is not even on the move yet. It is powered by a 1,995cc BMW TwinPower Turbo, 4-cylinder, diesel engine that makes 190 Bhp of power and 400 nm of torque. The numbers are impressive on the paper and even more so on the road. The torque helps the car pull away gracefully, if you wish for it to move gracefully that is. A firm push on the pedal accelerates the car in a manner that puts much lighter cars to shame, a fact evident from the 0-100 timing of 7.6s! And it kept up the act of a sports car longer than we could keep up the act of being Dominic Torretto. On the roads, the car handles very well for its size and takes care of some twists in the tale as well. Undulations, potholes and even India special speed-breakers (meant to scare trucks) are also dispensed off with ease courtesy the M-Sport Suspension.

But this car is a BMW X, and SAV and the roads is not where one tests its mettle. Now, the car, with all the luxury and amenities might seem like a delicate diva attending a gala dinner or something who cannot really play rough. But boy, give her a dance floor, hold her hand and she turns into a hot salsa dancer who is going to rock your world. What we mean is that take it off-road, brace yourself and let the hounds, or horses (whatever you fancy) loose. The X1 xDrive20d M-Sport gets intelligent 4WD with variable torque split which proves to be heck of a lot of fun when things get dirty. And for those mountainous shenanigans, it also gets Hill Descent Control in order to keep things safe. And keeping things safe reminds us of the 6 airbags, Attentive assistance (which analyzes the behavior of the driver), ABS, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control and lot more to keep things ‘safe’. Great car, no?

So, the driver seemed to have a lot of fun but then, so did the rider. After all, the TVS Apache RR 310, being the fantastic motorcycle that it is, was not going to be pushed to the sidelines. Visually, The Apache RR 310 is one of the most gorgeous motorcycles we have ridden. And we have ridden a Ducatis and MV Agustas too. So that, is a big compliment. The road presence that it possesses is unparalleled in the segment and a part of it is because of the size. One can easily mistake it for a supersport or even a superbike (trust us, it is usually parked besides our BMW S1000RR in the garage). And then the design, it is just a class apart and the motorcycle gets a lot of attention on the road, effortlessly. The design is complimented by a fantastic fit and finish which makes the RR 310 defy the ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ and gives it a universal appeal. The exhaust design though, is rather underwhelming but hey, nothing is perfect and yet, the RR 310 comes pretty close.

Saddle up on the Apache RR 310 and one comes to appreciate how roomy the motorcycle is. The seat is spacious (NOT THE PILLION!), the tank contours make it easy to hold onto the motorcycle with your legs, the not too rearset footpegs and the not too low handlebar make for a rather comfortable rider’s triangle. The seating position is definitely not as sporty as the design of the motorcycle and it portrays the sports-tourer intents of the motorcycle. The switchgear and the levers are top notch and the motorcycle reeks of premium-ness from all the angles. The console has so much information that one can breeze through no shave November while scrolling through the numerous screens. That overstatement implies that the console shows one all the information that they need be it the range (with the remaining fuel) or the best 0-60 time recorded. Another thing to note is that the fuel-gauge of the RR 310 is very accurate and once can almost always count on it to display the correct range and the amount of fuel remaining. On the downside, it does take some getting used to but we’ll take that any day against inaccurate numbers!

Thumb the starter, and the bike settles into idle after a slight rise in revs. Slot into the first gear, release the clutch and the almost 170 kg motorcycle moves like it shed all that weight in an instant. The engine, a 312.2cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder unit, makes around 33.5 Bhp of power and 27.3 Nm of torque. Apart from the very slight hesitation in the very beginning, the bike pulls effortlessly from the lower revs, stays strong in the mid-range and only mellows down at the other end of the rev range. 0-100 timing of 7.17s means the RR 310 was slightly ahead of the BMW X1, which, being a 4-wheeler, caught up eventually. The handling too is a revelation and the RR badging is not just a gimmick. The trellis-frame, reverse-inclined engine (short wheelbase, long swingarm) and the balanced suspension setup makes the RR 310 very poised, be it in a straight line or flowing curves. And with the safety net of ABS, it makes the experience of riding the RR 310 just as safe as enjoyable.

So both of these machines are entry-level and both of them justify the premium tag, there’s one thing that both do not compromise on- a whole lot of fun!

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