BMW C 400 GT review: Simply the best

The BMW C 400 GT is the only true maxi-scooter on sale in India and it packs a tonne of appeal.

Of the many ways I could think of beginning this story, I couldn’t help but start with underlining a few facts about the BMW C400 GT. This is the biggest, most powerful and the most expensive scooter that we’ve tested in India.

 It goes without saying then that I was quite excited and intrigued to see how this big German scooter fares on our streets.

Check it out

I remember gazing at various pictures of the C400 GT on the internet while on my way to pick it up from the dealership. But as I discovered later on, pictures couldn’t do justice to the sight of this maxi-scooter in front of me.

What you immediately notice is the sheer size of the C400 GT, which is further accentuated by the Alpine White colour (the other option being Triple Black) on our test scooter.

It’ll easily dwarf scooters like the maxi-styled Aprilia SXR160, as well as a fair amount of commuter motorcycles that dot our streets. So, it came as no surprise when almost anyone who laid their eyes on this scooter ended up stopping in their tracks. It’s the equivalent of a UFO on our streets and with those big BMW badges around, everyone knows that this two-wheeler is something special. But it isn’t just the size or the novelty factor alone that makes the C400 GT such a head-turner. It is genuinely a good-looking scooter.

Viewed head on, what immediately grabs attention is the wide front apron that houses the LED headlight with integrated quad-DRLs. The apron itself has neat cuts and creases to add aggression to the face and I particularly like the vertical turn indicators positioned at the bottom. Coupled with the tall, non-adjustable windscreen, the C400 GT has quite an imposing front end for a scooter.

Shift your gaze to the side and the long footboard, split by the spine-mounted fuel tank, and the sheer length of the scooter grabs attention. The wide tail section with the integrated clear LED tail-light and indicators is neatly executed as well. Overall, it is a nice and cohesive scooter design.

Deep glove boxes to store items or charge a phone.

Since the C400 GT wears the BMW badge, quality and equipment levels are expectedly top notch. Bits like the switches, the finish on the seat and even features like keyless ignition, keyless fuel-filler cap, and the TFT screen seem to be taken off BMW’s big bikes. One can also pair their phone to the screen and get notifications or navigate to a destination. However, as the system uses BMW’s maps and not the much more up-to-date Google Maps, I don’t expect to find all destinations in India. That, however, is a niggle that’s quickly forgotten once you’re in the rider’s perch.

Seat it!

That long, wide and spacious seat is as comfortable as it looks, and I loved the feeling of being ensconced in it. The thick padded area that forms a backrest and separates the rider and passenger seat offers excellent support. In fact, the riding posture is so relaxed, it’s akin to being seated in a lazy chair. The handlebar, too, is set high enough to not foul with the rider’s knees, no matter how tall you are or what position you choose to keep your feet on the long floor board. And while BMW categorises the C400 GT as an urban machine, the ergonomics are comfortable enough for long highway trips, as we discovered during a couple of Mumbai-Pune runs. I’d go as far as saying that this is the most comfortable seat I’ve ever experienced on a scooter.

All being said, given the length of the seat, you’d expect a cavernous storage space underneath. Sadly, that isn’t the case as the engine head eats into much of the available space and there’s only enough room to store a small bag and a few knick-knacks.

‘Flexcase’ system increases bootspace when parked.

Considering that there’s no flat floorboard to keep a bag and only two glove boxes behind the front apron to store small items, don’t expect the scooter to swallow your grocery shopping.

That being said, the party piece under the seat is the BMW Flex Case system that can be opened once the scooter is parked. As the name suggests, this is a flexible case that extends downwards to liberate enough room to store a full face helmet. This is pretty convenient when you don’t want to carry it to the office or the mall. However, given the paper-thin gap between the bottom of the case and the rear wheel (when extended), you can’t ride the scooter with the flex case extended.

Power house

With the biggest and most powerful engine you’ll find in a scooter that’s currently on sale, the performance is expectedly great.

The C400 GT shoots off the line cleanly, with a rapid rise in the numbers on the speedo.

Before you know it, you’ve crossed 80kph, and even 100kph comes up with barely any effort. The best part is that the engine stays remarkably smooth through all this, and along with the wind protection you get from the big windscreen, cruising at 120kph on the highway is an easy and enjoyable affair.

The roll-on figures we recorded are also indicative of the responsiveness of this engine. To put things in perspective, in the runs from 30-70kph and 50-80kph, this automatic scooter is quicker than the TVS Apache RR310 and the KTM 390 Adventure.

We didn’t expect to see a 214kg, 34hp, 35Nm scooter to entertain us with its performance to this extent, but it did.

If I had to nitpick, I’d say that the exhaust note sounds conventional and could’ve been more unique. But I’m more than willing to look past that considering the way this scooter rides on our roads.

Easy as 1…2…3

With the C400 GT being a proper, European scooter I was expecting a stiff and uncomfortable ride on Mumbai’s poor quality roads. But as it turned out, the telescopic fork and preload adjustable twin shocks did a pretty good job of tackling them. The front end, especially, is absorbent and you’ll barely hear a thud over the nastiest of potholes. I’d go as far as saying that it rides better than pretty much every scooter on sale in India, segment notwithstanding.

Handling is another strong aspect of the scooter. Despite the long wheelbase that stretches over 1,500mm, the scooter feels quite agile. BMW has got the weight distribution spot on and the scooter feels super stable in a straight line or around corners. The wide and grippytyres also play their part in adding another layer of confidence in the scooter’s abilities.

Pre-load adjustable twin shocks offer good ride.

And when the time came to haul the scooter down to a stop, the Bybre brakes didn’t disappoint. On a side note, this is the first time that we’ve seen Bybre brakes on a CBU model. The only thing missing is a rear brake lock to keep the scooter from rolling behind when you’re stopped or parked on an incline.

Buy it

At the end of the day, there’s little to fault with the BMW C400 GT. What you’ve got here is the best scooter that money can buy in India. Be it performance, comfort, practicality, the riding experience or the sheer novelty about this scooter, the BMW C400 GT is hugely appealing and actually a lot of fun to ride.

It’s the price tag, however, that makes it an indulgence for the well heeled. At Rs 10.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the C400 GT is in no way a financially sound purchase. But then again, there’s nothing quite like the scooter and if you’ve always wanted a unique urban runabout or simply an addition to the other big bikes (or your luxury car!) standing in your garage, the C400 GT is a compelling proposition.

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