Vespa S review, test ride
5th Mar 2014 10:15 pm
The retro-styled Vespa S has a sporty and masculine air to it; we hop on for a first hand on-road feel.
There’s something unique about all Vespa scooters, and the new Vespa S is no different, as it gets set to spice up the Indian scooter market with some all-Italian seasoning. With the scooter segment in India on a consistent growth path, Piaggio has already dived into and experienced the growing potential for its premium scooters, gradually expanding its product portfolio here. After the LX125 and the VX, it’s now the turn of the Vespa S to step into the limelight.
The compact and timeless S looks sporty with a retro touch that’s still just as seductive today as when first seen in the 1970s. It’s a scooter with masculine appeal, straight and attractive lines. The S looks like a classic scooter, with a box-shaped headlight that distinguishes it from its stablemates. There are nifty looking instruments with an easy-to-read speedometer, fuel gauge and clock, apart from the other usual warning lights. The handlebar shroud houses nice to touch palm grips, good quality switches and meaty feeling buffed alloy front and rear brake levers. There’s a boxy set of chrome mirrors that offer ample, vibe-free rear view. A solitary bag hook sits neatly placed between the nicely sculpted cubby holes in the front apron, for storage. At your feet, the ribbed floorboard isn’t as accommodating as most modern scooters’s flat units, a small sacrifice in order to preserve the S’s rich retro theme. A voluminous, lockable under-seat storage bay is available, and the seat shows off a smart white border. Putting the scooter on its main stand doesn’t involve excessive pressure, and its side-stand is likewise easily deployed, for being very well located. Style doesn’t get much better on a scooter, than on the S. Fit-finish and overall quality are top-notch on this Vespa too, which also feels well built and sturdy. Likewise, paint lustre is excellent. You can’t miss the S when it passes you on the streets, and there’s few scooters that can attract as much attention, with several passers by stopping to show their interest in the new Piaggio.
The Baramati-built Vespa S comes with a four-stroke, 125cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled and carburetted, three-valve engine that always runs vibe-free with a refined and smooth feel. Power output on the S is 10.06bhp at 7500rpm, while maximum torque is 1.08kgm at 6000rpm. The CVT transmission system works well. Power delivery is prompt, the thumb-started scooter lunging off from a standing start, thanks to good performance on offer low down in the powerband. Mid range acceleration is seamless and good enough for a scooter.
The S is built around a Vespa signature monocoque steel chassis, tailor-made to excel in urban India, while running your daily errands and also feeling apt for a regular office or college commute run. The S comes with handlebars that are appropriately placed for even taller riders, and riders sit on a high and roomy saddle, complete with a strap for the pillion to hold on to. The Indo-Italian S uses a single-sided, Vespa trademark hydraulic shock absorber with red coiled-spring in front and a hydraulic monoshock at the rear. The suspension imparts good feel, pampering passengers reasonably well over poor road conditions. Scooter-typical light handling and decent cornering manners are on offer. The S runs MRF tyres on 10-inch rims front and rear, with a 200mm front disc brake and 140mm rear drum brake. Both cable applied brakes pack strong enough bite, and stop the scooter easily when required, with progressive feel coming through at their control levers. A brake lock clamp was, however, missed by us during our ride, and prevented easy parking of the gearless scooter on any inclined or uneven surfaces.
The S, like all its stablemates is priced at a premium, for Rs 74,414 (ex-showroom, in Pune). So, don’t expect Vespa to clock big sales numbers with the S, but that’s not its aim at all. For the S does make a smart, distinctive looking and sturdily constructed scooter with a nice masculine air to it, relative to the LX125 and VX. It’s a good choice of steed for Indian buyers looking to make a style statement, while also buying into solid reliability and all the unmatched convenience that comes with riding a scooter.