Over the years, a lot has been seen and spoken about Italian flair and Italian design. There is definitely something distinctive about them. It is not for no reason that Italian designs are considered unique, timeless and a cut above the rest.
Endorsing this fact is something that we rode – the Vespa 125S. Vespa, which means ‘wasp’ in Italian, is an iconic scooter having a very rich heritage. It has been a revolutionary product that defined urban commuting in an inexpensive yet stylish manner. Vespa is very significant to India too, as in the 1960’s, it made personal transportation affordable for people and kick started the scooter segment, with various manufacturers to follow, over the years, some of them making scooters under license from Vespa itself. Vespa re-entered the Indian market with a bang in 2012, this time solo.
The Vespa 125 S was launched in 2014 and has a distinct sporty retro styling of the 70’s, with a rectangular headlamp and mirrors. A parked 125 S or even one that is passing by will surely command a second glance. Styling and design is no less than artistic. The perfect cuts, contours and arches exhibit design brilliance. Starting from the fine handlebar grips (with Vespa branding), chrome mirrors and aluminium brake levers to the well-contoured seat with white piping and the striped foot grips, all add a touch of class to the scooter.
The instrument console neatly houses the speedometer, fuel gauge, tell lamps and also a digital clock. The amber colour illumination looks elegant. The mirrors provide very good rear visibility and do not vibrate either. The switchgear is basic but operates smoothly, though it takes time getting used to it, especially the turn signal switch. Even the horn button is placed pretty low and after getting adjusted to it you realize that it is actually quite convenient. An engine kill switch is desired and also what was surely missed was a rear brake lever lock, which is a very useful feature that prevents the scooter from rolling while you are parked on an incline and need both hands free, without using the side stand.
There is no storage box under the handlebar, but you get two small pockets that can hold your sunglasses, mobile phone or a small water bottle. The centre houses a neat foldable safe hook to hang carry bags. Storage space under the seat is decent and can hold in a half helmet but not a full face one. There is a sleek chrome grip at the rear for the pillion that runs around the seat and the tail lamp is beautifully crafted. The exhaust has a sporty look with a ducted cover in chrome. The handlebar is set high and makes the riding position comfortable. There is ample knee room too.
The 125 S starts up to a smooth idle with a light push of the start button and pulls away smoothly in motion. Refinement is a highlight of this machine and compliments the premium factor. There is no vibration even when the throttle is wrung hard. Performance is in the league of other 125 cc scooters in the market, nothing exceptional. The 125 S makes 10bhp of power @ 7500rpm and a torque of 10.6Nm @ 6000rpm. Power delivery is linear, with peak power coming at higher revs, making the scooter a good one to cruise on a long open stretch. I could manage a top speed of 90kmph and felt it could go a little more, however, it is not advisable to ride at those speeds. What makes the 125S special, is the easy handling and maneuvering. It is a breeze to ride it among tight corners and twisty streets. The turning radius is extremely tight and can manage a U-turn at the most confined spots. Parking in narrow places also is not a problem. That is where a scooter should score over other two wheelers and the Vespa 125S does exactly the same.
Ride quality is superb and the suspension setup is very Italian – neither too soft nor harsh, just well balanced. On regular road undulations , the Vespa just glides over , its only the bigger potholes that one must avoid. Maybe a 12 inch front wheel would behave better that the current 11 inch one. Nevertheless, the ride is very smooth. I have already mentioned what a sweet handler it is. Brakes are of top quality too. The front 200mm discs are excellent. In fact it seemed sufficient to be able to handle even more power and weight. The Vespa 125S has a fuel tank capacity of 8.7 litres, much higher than that of competition, which translates into lesser number of pump visits. Fuel efficiency is around 55 kms per litre in a mix of city and highway riding. Hard riding will result in efficiency dropping.
At Rs.85,800 (on road, Pune), The Vespa 125S is expensive, that too by a considerable margin as compared to competition. So why would anyone buy the Vespa 125S, given the similar specifications and performance as others? Well, to put it in simple terms, when one owns a Vespa, he/she owns an icon. The fan following of Vespa around the world is phenomenal. The exquisite styling puts this vehicle in a class of its own. It is attractive and loaded with attitude. This purchasing decision would be more from the heart than the head, and when you buy it, it’s not just a scooter, you buy a Vespa!