Opinion: Kawasaki W175 Launch In India: A Good Idea?

Published On Oct 13, 2020 By for Kawasaki Bikes at Zigwheels.com

The retro motorcycle is rumoured to be launched in India next year. We analyse whether it’ll be a feasible product for Kawasaki

Rumours are running rife on the internet that Kawasaki is planning to launch the W175 in India early next year. Will the Kawasaki W175 be able to make a mark in the fast-growing small-capacity retro segment? Below, we weigh in on every single aspect to see whether it would really make sense or not:

May not hit the pricing sweet spot:

The word on the interwebs is that Kawasaki will bring the W175 to India with heavy localisation, like it did with the Ninja 300. In the Indonesian market, the W175 starts from IDR 30,800,000, equivalent to around Rs 1.52 lakh. Even if Kawasaki India managed to make the bike with heavily localised components and price it at around Rs 1.20 lakh, it will still be expensive. Especially considering it’s a 13PS air-cooled motorcycle at the end of the day. 

A fully made-in-India bike like the Bajaj Pulsar 150 costs Rs 99,584 (ex-showroom Delhi). So, theoretically, Kawasaki will be able to sell the W175 well only if it priced the bike at under Rs 1 lakh. But being a premium brand, it is nigh impossible for Kawasaki to price it so competitively as the Japanese brand would want a higher margin considering its stature of making premium motorcycles.

Not-so-appealing specifications:

The Kawasaki W175 employs a 177cc air-cooled SOHC carburetted, counterbalanced engine, churning out 13PS at 7,500rpm and 13.2Nm at 6,000rpm, linked to a 5-speed transmission. These figures are quite low for its segment. To give you a perspective, the Bajaj Pulsar 150 with its smaller 149.5cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine makes 14PS and 13.25Nm. 

The Kawasaki W175’s engine isn’t BS6 / Euro 5-compliant either at the moment. To make the motor comply with stringent BS6 emission norms, Kawasaki may have to employ a proper fuel injection system, which will again drive up costs. The usual trend is that air-cooled, fuel-injected motors generally lose out slightly in terms of output figures when making them compliant with stricter emission regulations. But with already anaemic performance figures, Kawasaki simply would not be able to afford any further performance loss. 

While the Indonesia-spec motorcycle lacks ABS, the India-spec version will have to be equipped with at least single-channel ABS to comply with safety regulations here. But then again, being a premium motorcycle, it is only fair that Kawasaki might offer a dual-channel unit, which doesn’t do anything to keep the costs under control.

Summing it up:

While the idea of selling a small-capacity retro motorcycle sounds tempting, we believe the Kawasaki W175 simply isn’t the right choice for the segment. And if we were to judge the build quality going by the bigger, more expensive W800, we wouldn't expect the W175 to be up to the mark. Even going by the press shots of the international-spec model, the exposed wiring, the odd gap between the rear fender and the tyre don’t exactly reek of premiumness. All in all, bringing the W175 to India doesn’t really make sense by any means. 

All said and done, Kawasaki has a history of bringing in bikes with absurd price tags. Cases in point are the Kawasaki Z 900 RS, the Versys X-300 and the Ninja 400. Despite their high pricing, a few customers still found them appealing enough to make a purchase. And with the W175, Kawasaki might just be playing around the price factor. After all, even if the brand prices the bike at around Rs 1.20 lakh, it will still be the most affordable Kawasaki motorcycle in India. What do you guys think? Let us know your thoughts through our social media channels.