The term “Italian” evokes a sense of finesse and glamour, and is deeply associated with everything that has its origins in the European nation. An Italian tag on any manufactured good more often than not is enough to get people drooling with desire – and not without a reason. Italians know what they do better than others in most cases. It’s said that they don’t do it obsessively for money; they do it because they love doing it and this very reason makes any Made in Italy product so sought after even today.
We somewhat concur with the thought. And recently we happened to lay our hands on two alluring scooters from the iconic Italian brand, Vespa. The Piaggio owned brand recently launched the SXL125 and SXL150, along with their respective VXL variants to consolidate its position in the premium scooter segment. With other manufacturers offering auto-scoots stretching to a maximum displacement of 125cc that emphasize on practicality and efficiency – the new Vespa SXL125 and the higher displaced SXL150 are targeted at users who want convenience without comprising image. We took both the scoots for a spin to find if the Vespa SXL150 and the SXL125 and their respective VXL variants are worth the premium.
DESIGN, STYLE AND FEATURES
Visually there is no difference between SXL125 and the SXL150 except the badging on the left side panel where the 150 screams the larger displacement while the 125 prefers keeping mum. No arguing, however, that the 125 and 150 are both shining exponents of the much revered Vespa design. The rectangular headlight is in contrast with the rest of the body which is organic and curvaceous, though it still manages to look great. The distinctive, premium colour options offered to the buyer add spice to an overall gorgeous looking scooter and so do the features mentioned hereunder.
• Chromed mirrors and an optional visor the SXL lends it a classic yet modern look
• An oyster shaped analog-digital instrumentation cluster looks chic with legible readouts
• Switchgear quality is decent with a pleasant tactile feel
• Chrome accents on the grips again add to the classic appeal of the scooter
• The choke lever has been placed beside the left cubby hole
• Retractable bag hooks offered on the SXL against the open-able front storage box on the VXL
• The lack of front storage has been compensated by two small crevices on either sides of the steering column
• The seat is well contoured for comfort to both rider and pillion with the integrated keyhole for underseat storage. Take note of the white accents in the black seat for the SXL model
• Underseat storage offers enough space for a medium sized helmet. The seat wouldn’t lock with a full size helmet crammed in, though
• The footboard is treated with floor runner rubber strips
• The kick lever gets a chromed treatment and a chromed Vespa logo on the clutch cover
• Six spoke, blacked out alloy wheels add their bit to the overall styling package
• Both the Vespas are suspended on Aircraft inspired single side arm Front Suspension with Anti-Dive characteristics and a rear suspension with dual-effect hydraulic shock absorber.
• 200mm ventilated front disc with a 140mm drum at the rear comprise the braking setup on the Vespas
• The Vespas ride on tubeless Maxxis 110-70/11 (front) and 120-70/10 (rear) tyres that offer good road bite.
The Vespa VXL125 essentially is similar to the SXL125 with similar hardware and riding dynamics but with variation in styling and extra garnish of chrome. The differences are highlighted as below.
- The Vespa VXL125 gets round chrome mirrors instead of rectangular on the SXLs.
- The headlight too is round as compared to the rectangular ones on the SXL.
- The three slat grille with chrome accents has been placed slightly higher in comparison to the SXL
- The Vespa VXL125 gets a front storage compartment as against cubbies and retractable bag hooks on the SXL.
- The five spoke alloy wheels are offered in silver finish as against the blacked out units on the SXL.
- The VXL125 gets a chromed single piece grab rail for the pillion as against a belt on the SXL. The seat here doesn’t get the white lining
Build quality on the Vespa can be termed as decent, but the plastics do have a few rough edges. The merging lines are uneven, the underseat storage plastic edges look unfinished and so do the mirror stem rubber caps. Though these are minor niggles and need a close eye to recognize – but we would expect better finishing touches on a premium and iconic scooter brand.
PERFORMANCE – ENGINE / RIDE AND HANDLING
The Vespa SXL / VXL 125 is powered by a 3 valve 125cc single cylinder engine producing max power of 10.06 ps @ 7500 rpm with peak torque of 10.6 nm @ 5500 rpm. Whereas the Vespa SXL / VXL 150 cranks out a max 11.6 ps @ 7000 rpm and 11.5 nm @ 5500 rpm of power and torque respectively. The engine on the SXL125 feels refined in comparison to its bigger engined sibling. The 150cc mill is a bit gruntier in comparison to the 125 and sends a shuddery feel to the palms during hard acceleration and while holding onto speeds above 50 kph.
The pull on both the Vespas can be felt in the upper mid range where the extra punch is evident in comparison to other smaller displaced scoots. But the snorty character of the SXL150 is actually fun to play with – it gives it a sense of being more powerful than it actually is.
Coming to handling- the monocoque full body construction shows its prowess when tackling corners and bad roads. The Vespas exude firm road holding manners- also thanks to a grippy and wider footprint. Both flick with ease and cutting in and out of traffic feels like child play without the worry of the rear losing its line of travel. The brakes are a disappointment though- particularly at the front end. In fact we had to once get down to reconfirm if there were discs or drums. The bite was missing and the feel wasn’t very convincing. This Vespa doesn’t offer much bite with a gentle press. Grabbing onto the brake levers, however, brings the potency of the discs to the fore. The brake lever modulation on these Vespas needs some getting used to, with more extreme inputs required to bring it to a quick halt.
Ride quality on both Vespas was a mixed bag of experiences. Starting with the seat – it’s broad, offers generous cushioning and is contoured well for a comfortable ride over shorter distances. A wee bit more firmness would have been welcome. The front suspension doesn’t soak in the undulations as adeptly as the rear. Moderately rough roads aren’t an issue, though, and the Vespas would stride over them with ease. Overall the two offer adequate comfort to trundle around the city, though we have ridden scooters with notably more rider comfort in the mainstream segment.
A Vespa simply cannot be categorized as a means of transport. The wasp-waisted scooter is an icon, an undying affiliate of Italian trends and it’s this very identity that compensates for the shortcomings. The styling, though modern, still evokes the memories of the brand’s glorious past. No wonder the Vespa has a cult following all across the globe. It might not be as refined as the japs, but then the image that you carry around with a Vespa, cannot really be matched by anything else.
At INR 81,967/- for the Vespa SXL125, INR 77,308/- for the VXL150 and INR 88,696/- (All prices ex-showroom, Pune ) for the SXL150- the three machines are far from scoring merit on the VFM chart, but it has always been the emotional aspect the brand that drives its customer to the showroom. For someone who wants the hop-and-vroom gearless convenience of the scooter, while still standing out from the crowd as someone who has taste, and money – the Vespa makes perfect sense. It’s only logical that Vespa doesn’t want to dilute that sense of exclusivity by reducing the sticker price.
Do let us know your thoughts about the new scoots through the comments sections below, or poke us on one of the social channels.
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