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When it comes to style, the Italians create some timeless works of art. The Vespa’s design still remains true to what it was originally envisioned to be, but when Piaggio introduced the Vespa in 2011, it was by far one of the most desirable scooters on our roads. The retro styling coupled with a great finish quality and a smooth 125cc engine made it a force to be reckoned with in the scooter segment. The only thing that prevented the average Indian Joe from lapping it up was its pricing. In a bid to position it as a premium product, the Vespa was priced higher than its direct competitors.
Piaggio is trying to push the envelope of the scooter segment again, by launching 150cc variants of the Vespa. The Vespa VXL 150 and SXL 150 are the only 150cc automatic scooters on sale in the country right now. Styling updates include a refreshed front end, a new alloy design, liberal use of chrome and obviously, 150cc badging. The Vespa is offered in a range of not-very-subtle colours, with the option of a matte finish as well. The finish on the scooter is faultless. The buttons and switches exude a premium feel, the instrument cluster is clean and visible. While the speedometer is still old school analogue, it has a digital readout which apart from a fuel gauge and odometer, tells the time as well.
You can tell the VXL and SXL apart from their different styling. While the VXL retains the original round headlamp and round rearview mirrors, the SXL gets rectangular ones. The SXL also gets some sweet blacked out alloys, but lacks a grab rail.
Now lets get to the important bit, that engine. The 150cc single cylinder unit churns out 11.4bhp, where the 125cc made 10bhp. Is the change noticeable? Most definitely. The scooter is definitely more peppy off the line, with a nice meaty low and mid range. Where a regular 125cc scooter would run out of breath, the Vespa was eager to go on. And the real difference could be felt with a pillion. Even with the extra weight, the Vespa would zip off the line without any trouble. The engine is quite refined and pulls smoothly, it tempts you to twist the throttle at every possible opportunity.
Everything else on the Vespa remains the same. The ride is too firm, but neither does it bounce around all over the place. The tyres on the scooter are now wider, and this does improve handling marginally. It comes with a 200mm front disc brake as standard but the rear brakes remain drum brakes.
Now the pricing, at Rs. 84,641 for the VXL and Rs. 88,696 for the SXL (ex-showroom, Pune), these scooters aren’t particularly cheap. What you get for this price is unbeatable quality, some great desirability and the only 150cc automatic scooter in the country. But when you look around and see what else you can get for that kind of money, you might think twice before getting one.