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It’s almost a standard Italian affair to make things that always catch your eyes. Be it supercars, superbikes, supermodels in fact even scooters. The Vespa scooter is one of the most iconic products in the industry that has gained an indomitable cult status almost from the day it was first launched for the public. It took birth in 1944 as the ambitious decision of Piaggio’s successful engineer and founder’s son, Enrico Paiggio to move from the field of manufacturing airplanes to make something useful and affordable that would reach the masses. The first Vespa started to roam the streets way back in 1946 with the help of aeronautical engineer, Corradino D'Ascanio who was asked to design a simple, sturdy and pocket friendly vehicle that would be universally accepted by men and women of all ages. The Vespa previously had two chapters in India. Piaggio licensed production of the Vespa scooter to Bajaj auto in the 60’s. Their second chapter began with LML Motors and lasted from 1983 to 1999. Following a 13 year absence, they return to our subcontinent but this time as an individual entity and no local partners. Let’s find out if the retro chic scooter still has its flair.
Looks and Design:
The Vespa despite being a small scooter with minimal street presence size-wise is a sure shot attention magnet. It looks fantastic with it’s retro design and clean appearance. The aesthetics of the scooter are so catchy, it will make even the most casual observer turn his head around and wonder what just passed him. It has a classic looking round headlamp up front with a nice chrome ring surrounding it’s border. The rear view mirrors are also perfectly round in shape and are completely coated in chrome for the added bling factor. The front apron of the bike has a minimal design with no excessive bulges, creases or split sections. It has a unidirectional design flow which works really well in this case in spite of the simplicity.
The apron has the chrome coated signature Vespa grill located right in the middle flanked by two rounded rectangle shaped indicators on either side of the grill. Apart from that, the only detailing elements on the front side are the Piaggio logo beneath the headlamp and the trademark Vespa emblem placed offset to right of apron just like the original version and yes in the original font. Below the apron lies the fat front mudguard. There is barely any space between it and the apron which perfectly conceals the front forks from view. The mudguard comes with a chrome strip running down its mid-section. The apron also gets chrome piping surrounding its perimeter all the way up to the footboard unit. The footboard is sufficiently wide and has 3 rubber strips running on each side to prevent the painted parts from scratches or abrasions.
The rear half of the scooter comprises of the comfortable and spacious seat. Below the seat lies the engine. There is only one prominent crease running over the bodywork surrounding the engine and compliments the clean look of the scooter very aptly. The seat is circumvented by an all-chrome grabrail with a simple rectangular tail light beneath it. The rear indicators are placed besides the tail light. The LX125 gets contemporary looking 3 spoke alloy rims and a typical stubby, scooter-like exhaust unit again completed with chrome leg guard over it. The instrument cluster has a simple two pod layout with an analogue speedometer-odometer in the middle and a fuel gauge to its right. The tell-tale lights are placed above the pods with a useful digital clock below.
Engine and Performance:
The Vespa is powered by a 125cc single cylinder air cooled motor that puts out 10 Bhp of power at 7500 RPM and 10.6 Nm of torque at 7500 RPM. The Vespa happens to be a surprisingly good performer thanks to it’s 3 valve configuration. While the low end power is nothing too fascinating, the engine suddenly comes to life as you cross 40 km/h. The mid range punch it delivers is sure to leave you stunned. The needle moves so quickly you’ll definitely be surprised the first few times. Acceleration is very much in the league of other motorcycles running on the same cubic capacity. It can even touch the 100 mark without losing too much breath. What’s even more surprising is that it can dish out a decent fuel efficiency of 40-45 km/l despite its performance and the CVT gearbox.
Ride and Handling:
The Vespa has a comparatively higher ergonomic stance compared to other scooters in the market. It’s still low enough to allow even shorter riders to touch the ground with their feet. The seat is very plush and comfortable for both rider and pillion and doesn’t leave sore body parts over prolonged durations on the saddle. The overall position is totally upright and the handlebars fall right in place when you mount the scooter. Thumb the starter and the 3 valve engine settles into a bassier than you’d expect exhaust note by scooter standards. It’s also a little prone to vibrations at idling RPM’s and the lower rev range. The suspension setup up front isn’t a telescopic type but a single sided unit. However the Vespa still has quite a potent suspension setup which readily absorbs unexpected bumps and rough patches our Indians roads can dish out.
Sadly on the flipside of things, it’s a bit of a let-down when it comes it to handling. It’s well suited for carving through city traffic thanks to a very short turning radius. The same attribute makes it very reluctant to do anything when the velocity is higher. The small tires, the basic single sided suspension don’t really make it a very agile handler and it loses grip very quickly when pushed. Braking performance is also a bit of a disappointment as the drum brakes front and back won’t leave any performance enthusiast satisfied. Pretty shameful indeed considering how well it propels itself from standstill. It doesn’t really have any wind protection but the comfortable seat and the peppy engine make it somewhat suitable for going a little longer distance. It also boasts of class leading storage space under the seat and can easily gobble up an entire helmet. The plastics used on the scooter aren’t of particularly boast-worthy quality and there are inconsistent panel gaps everywhere as well.
Spares and Service:
Piaggio has a limited network of service centre scattered around India catering specifically to the Vespa family. Spares however may not always be readily available all the time and may require a slight amount of waiting.
The Vespa LX125 is priced at Rs. 70,221 (ex-showroom Delhi)
The Vespa returns in a brand new avatar for the 21st century. It’s not exactly a good handler nor does it impress a lot in the braking department. Its engine however packs quite a punch and it’s a definite attention magnet as a virtue of its iconic appearance. It may be a tad-expensively priced but for makes for a unique purchase for people looking to relive the nostalgia days as much it does for the younger crowd looking to make a style statement.
Sriram Sridharan Recommends This Vehicle.