This one is sure to be a hit with the ladies, I reckon! Piaggio has brought its iconic scooter brand once again into the country and the LX 125 (as it is called the world over) will be Vespa's latest debut here in India.
Piaggio's going with the lifestyle direction in the Vespa's marketing strategy, including starting the Indian chapter of the marque's clubs that exist all over the globe. Priced at Rs 66,661, ex-showroom, Maharashtra, the scoot is certainly in the premium segment on the cost front, especially since the current market leader, the Honda Activa, will set you back by Rs 47,077 ex-showroom in Baramati, just short of Rs 20,000 less than the Piaggio. Incidentally, the Vespa will be manufactured at a brand new plant in Baramati, Maharashtra.
So how good is the scooter on the road? Well, to start with, the ride quality is absolutely plush. Bad roads simply do not unfaze this scooter and only but the harshest of bumps get past the suspension.
The Vespa is equally sure-footed in the handling department. Despite sporting mediocre rubber and old school trailing link suspension at the front, it seems that the monocoque frame of the scooter more than makes up for all of that, endowing the Vespa with the kind of agility that will surprise many scooterists. This thing will change direction at a moment's notice and will gracefully bank into corners with ease. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must point out that the Vespa could really do with better tyres..
And a disc brake up front. The drum brake is close to dead, returning neither feel nor performance when it is summoned. Pull in the lever with all your might and it still won't cut speed soon enough. I reckon a slightly longer brake arm should increase leverage a tad, enough to keep things from getting scary. Perhaps a softer brake lining material might slow down things more effectively. Or both. The rear brake, however, makes up for the front, with its progressive functioning and good enough bite.
The Vespa's 125 cc motor has been specially developed by Piaggio for India. In fact, the company has found this new generation engine so promising that it will be fitted on to scooters across Asia and Europe in near future. Putting out 9.9 bhp and 1.08 kgm of power and torque respectively, the motor pulls strongest up to 70 kph and then the grunt begins to trail off.
What won't begin to dip, however, is the amount of attention that this scooter gets from the ladies. The bright colours and the petite size of the Vespa are probably what attract them, like moths to a flame, if I may say so. The styling is eye-catching for certain, with the general design lines showing distinct heritage to the first production Vespa, the MP6, from 1945.
But this scooter isn't without peeves, unfortunately. Panel gaps were inconsistent among the test specimens and somehow, some burrs had made it past the factory's pre-delivery inspection. Underseat storage is good for one full face helmet at best, with no space left over for anything more than a cleaning rag.
For what it's worth, the Vespa is attractive and has quite a few good points going for it. But if you simply want a scoot to er, scoot about and nothing more, the Vespa might not be your thing. Instead, it is intended as a fashion accessory, as a style statement. This scooter definitely isn't intended as a working scooter, and the price is testament of this fact.