Retro Italians taking over the city
Italians! Bold, beautiful, elegant and authoritative. That is what defines the country and oh boy, I get to date one such personality straight from the land of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Ducatis. Short and sweet, that is how my rendezvous was with this ‘OMG, so cute’ looking scooter known as Piaggio Vespa in India and LX125 everywhere else. Vespa’s entry in India marks the re-birth of Italian manufacturer Piaggio in India, who initially invaded the country in early 1960s with Bajaj and then tried to survive the market with LML before calling it quits from India.
India is one of the fastest growing two-wheeler markets in the world and Piaggio’s strategy to tap the potential with Vespa is unique. Yes, they invented the term ‘Lifestyle product’ and clearly, Vespa is not launched for competition in the market, it is intended to be in its own class. And to be true, Vespa earned this image over the years of its existence.
Today Vespa enjoys a vintage tag against its name, and is no different than the league of MINI, Beetle or 500 who gained their popularity with time. The Vespa religion started when it started to feature in big Hollywood flicks and now the cute little but powerful wheeler has acted in more than 150 movies gaining a stardom status.
Piaggio is manufacturing these eye candies at Baramati near Pune and within months of red-tape cutting ceremony, the scooter started carrying a waiting period of over 2 months. Yes, that much with all the premium-ness.
Vespa might look cute like an Italian model standing alone on the empty street but it feels more than that when you twist the throttle. Play around with your right wrist holding the Vespa branded throttle grip and the 3-valve, 126cc, 9.9-bhp motor starts its operation with a mild buzz propelling its rather light monocoque aluminum body and the rider on it. The world around takes a quick reverse till the big analogue speedo shows 85 km per hour and then, it starts becoming lazy, running out of breath and signs of stress start to take over. Give the vintage looking scooter some time, space and your little courage with your luck, the needle might cross the 3-digit limit – now that is something which will send shivers down the spines of each and every other scooter in India. Icing on the cake comes in the form of the ARAI rated fuel economy of 60 kmpl which means ideally, in real world, you should get over 50!
The big Piaggio branded console, consists of a big analogue speedometer marked up to 120 km per hour, fuel gauge, turn indicator, head-lamp indicator, high beam indicator and a clock. Yes, digital clock lets you to keep track of time, when you are enjoying your Italian wet dream.
Vespa is an attention-seeker, said that, the crowd walking, driving or even standing around the scooter can’t take their eyes off it. The beautifully contoured and simple eye-soothing front with round head-lamp, flowing indicators and vintage-inspired round horn-vent is something which will always please the beholder. The stares don’t stop there. The curvaceous and beautifully designed rear looks rather beautiful and be assured, your mind and heart will ask you to spend some more time staring at the piece of work which is been worked upon extensively. The classic tail-lamp, single side swing-arm and the chrome dipped exhaust fuses the modern and classic work seamlessly.
Chrome, lots of chrome has been scattered smartly on the scooter, and the result? More premium-ness! Piaggio made sure they fit the scooter with top-notch quality; like the aluminum levers; which are very good to hold, rubber foot-pad, chrome mirrors and shiny little kick which dissolves into the overall scenario without looking out of the place. The shiny 3D Vespa logo on the rear body gives it the identity and the brand which makes it proud.
Vespa’s front cabinet is very aesthetically designed without any lock or knob to open it, a push of key is all you need to open small space, which is almost of no use, until you plan to keep your documents there. The under-seat space is very limited too with a 8 liter fuel tank sitting beside it.
When the world was testing Vespa in all its vibrant colors, we decided to become a little more retro and pick up the white and have my word, it was looking majestic, if that’s the right word to use.
Vespa is different, not only looks but the way it rides, the way it feels the road, the way it infuses confidence in you is just different from all other scooters. Vespa lets you take control and follows what you command! The monocoque comes into play when you take on corners and with increased level of confidence, the corners suddenly started feeling good, fun in right words. I wished for better grip from the MRF tyres on rain affected tarmac but on the dry surfaces, the agile scooter showed it’s prowess in true colors. Easily flickable and small turning radius gets you past the slow moving city traffic without much sweat and work.
It makes you happy and anyone looking at your face instead of scooter (by any chance), will see the ‘happy-grin’ even when you are tackling the potholes with old school trailing type suspensions in front, the Vespa takes it all and still doesn’t complain, neither do you.
The vibrant devil carries a premium price tag of Rs. 66,600 (ex-showroom) – it will make the Vespa unique and less-explored scooter but then this is how Piaggio planned for the Vespa! It gives you what all other scooters and the motorcycles in this price band cannot – exclusivity with performance and oomph factor. The Vespa indeed can be the Lifestyle in your life, literally and lifestyle never came cheap, did it?