The Vespa has been with us for over eight months now and after a hiatus of three months, I've got it back as a companion for my daily commute. Although it's been nearly two years since the SXL 150 was launched, it remains a head-turner thanks to the classy retro styling and matte red paint. In fact, the stylish scooter recently piqued the interest of fellow motorists at a red light and some passers-by at a parking lot who were rather impressed with its looks. But these conversations almost always ended with a collective gasp on hearing the steep asking price of over Rs 1.12 lakh (on-road, Mumbai).
Unfortunately, the premium it commands doesn't end with the high purchase cost. In the one month I've spent with the scooter, trips to the petrol pump have been rather frequent. The route I usually take to work is a mix of long, clear stretches followed by a few uneven bits crammed with traffic. So, while the 150cc, single-cylinder engine packs a lot of grunt, an average ride with a few occasions of speed tipping 60-65kph has resulted in a fuel efficiency of just 28kpl. It went up to around 35kpl after frugal riding limited to under 45kph, but it is still too low for a city runabout scooter. Thankfully, it has a fairly decent fuel tank capacity of six litres, which is higher than most scooters.
The Vespa continues to provide a great riding experience, thanks to enough power on tap for quick overtaking manoeuvres. Mechanically, too, it has been near faultless save for a few cold starts after a day or two of lying idle. But, thanks to ample underseat storage on offer, it's a rather practical machine. In fact, it has even become the ride of choice for a few of my colleagues to run quick errands during work hours.