Vespa S: Review
- by Arun Mohan Nadar
- Mar 5, 2014
- Views : 73415
It's retro, chic, stylish and expensive. We ride the latest premium scooter offering from the stables of Piaggio
The scooter segment is on a roll and it is no secret. Owing to this factor, there have been sub-sections under the scooter segment. This includes male-oriented scooters, female oriented-scooters, unisex and one for the college going students. But among these entire segments of scooters, one brand that has always managed to stand apart and please the varying scooter consumers is Vespa. It has never tried to play the volumes game or has tried to price itself competitively. Yet despite this and the fact it is priced at a premium among all the other scooters on sale in our country without delivering anything substantial, it has managed to carve out a fan following of its own, which is commendable. This success can be credited to the fact that the Vespa is among the most revered brands in the world of two-wheelers globally and this has enabled it to create its very own niche customer base in the scooter space. And to further expand its product portfolio and cash in on the demand for the exclusive breed of scooters, the Italian manufacturer introduced the third scooter in its line-up – Vespa S.
The first visual detail that caught our attention was the 1970s-styled square headlight in contrast to the round one found on the standard Vespa offerings. Though on paper this change sounds minor but it makes the Vespa S stand apart from its siblings, the LX and VX quite distinctively. The same theme has been carried forward to the square mirrors, which have been finished in chrome. Another major change on the Vespa S is the retro-styled analogue instrument cluster, which is finished in piano black and is easy to read. It sports an analogue speedometer, digital clock, fuel gauge, and different tell-tale lights. The only qualm we had with the console were the tiny re-set buttons, which are little difficult to operate. Switch gear on the Vespa S is similar to its siblings and offer decent quality, while the palm grips are easy to hold. The quality of buttons felt nice but reliability is a bit questionable, as our longtermer Vespa LX wasn’t able to maintain its initial quality over a period of time. To make the Vespa S more useful in carrying knick-knacks, two slots have been provided on the body alongwith a separate hook to hang bags, which we feel is a useful addition.
The seat profile of the Vespa S has been changed and has a subtle contour to it with a strap for the pillion to hold on t. The white piping on the saddle helps in actuating its classic charm. Under-seat storage is decent, with enough space to fit a half-face helmet. Another minor visual variation is the chrome strip, which runs below the Piaggio badge at front till the re-styled squarish vents between the indicators. To make the Vespa S scooter stand out further the designers have employed contrasting colours. The three-spoke wheels have been coated in a shade of glossy black whereas the front suspension spring has been finished in red. All these changes have made the Vespa S to stand out in comparison to its siblings while the basic Vespa silhouette has been maintained. It is definite head turner, as wherever we went for shooting the Vespa S that was soaked in a striking shade of orange, people from varying backgrounds thronged us bombarding us with enquiries. Also the square headlamps have endowed the new scooter with a subtle tinge of masculinity. Having said that, it still has the universal appeal, which is very vital for any Vespa.
Changes made on the Vespa S are only cosmetic and it is powered by the same 125cc powerplant as seen on the VX and LX. The air-cooled motor churns out 10PS @ 7,500rpm and torque figure stands at 10.6Nm @ 6,000 rpm. Power is transmitted to the rear-wheels via a CVT transmission. Open the throttle and the Vespa S lunges forward without much effort and power delivery is seamless and smooth. The engine feels aptly powered for riding around town and is vibe-free, it feels strained only at the apex of its performance and that is understandable. Apart from the powerplant, the Vespa S also shares its underpinnings with its siblings. Due to which, it has similar tall handlebars and a comfortable riding posture. The new offering is built around a traditional Vespa monocoque steel chassis and it helps the scooter immensely in its handling dynamics and stability. Changing directions on the Vespa S is a joy as it feels light on it toes, a trait that will be beneficial during commuting in the traffic infested urban environment.
The scooter runs on tubeless MRF tyres and grip offered by them is satisfactory. The Vespa S employs traditional single-side hydraulic shock absorbers at front and hydraulic monoshock at the rear. Ridequality isn’t as supple as the ones provided by telescopic forks but it isn’t bad either and the new offering absorbs minor bumps with ease. Braking is done via a 200mm ventilated disc brakes at front and drum brakes at rear. Braking performance is adequate but the disc brakes felt woody in terms of feel. The Vespa S doesn’t come equipped with brake lock clamp, which can be felt wanting when parked on a slope, as we found out during the shoot. Though, the bike sits on the main stand rather effortlessly, it becomes quite a task with missing grab rails and we suggest prospective owners to add them. Also, we felt that the mirrors on the scooter felt a tad small in terms of rear-view visibility and one has to lean back while riding to look into them.
Coming to pricing, the Vespa S has been priced at a whooping Rs 76,495 (ex-showroom Mumbai), which is Rs 4,000 more than the VX. At this price, it is sure that the Vespa S isn’t going to create any new sales records and Piaggio understands this. As according to the Italian manufacturer, the brand Vespa was, is and will always remain a premium scooter. And the Vespa S is a prime example of this, as it is a scooter with aspirational value rather than practicality. So if you were in a market for a scooter which is a head turner rather than a workhorse and have deep pockets, look no further.