Vespa plans to revisit India's burgeoning scooter market with the LX 125, its first premium offering.
The name Vespa strikes a chord in the Indian market. The Italian two and three-wheeler manufacturer's successful collaboration with LML for geared scooters was quite the story. But the joint venture with LML broke up in 1999 and it wasn't until eight years later that Piaggio announced plans to re-enter our market with a spanking new facility in Baramati that Vespa resurfaced. India will be the third country in the world, after Italy and Vietnam, to manufacture these scooters. Considering the fact that the Indian two-wheeler market is seeing ever growing demand for automatic scooters, there's always room for another manufacturer to spread its wares.
Piaggio's first scooter for India will be the automatic LX 125, set to arrive in 2012. The Vespa LX 125 is a classic model, paying tribute to the original 1946 Vespa with its retro styling. It is a compact scooter, sporting well-rounded curves and a cute, round headlamp which is flanked by chrome rearview mirrors. The front apron sports a centre cowl, reminiscent of scooters from the past, apart from a chrome grille that houses the horn. The front apron is otherwise clean, smooth and incorporates a set of tall, rectangular indicators. An angular front mudguard guards the front suspension and five-spoke alloys.
The LX dash employs a rounded housing and retro font, with a speedometer, fuel gauge, low-fuel warning light, tell-tale lights and digital clock. Switchgear is thoroughly modern, and classy. Inside the apron sits a petite glovebox, capable of holding a few knick-knacks. There's a ridged footboard below. The seat seems wide, and should provide comfort for both, rider and the pillion. A large under-seat storage bay is present as well. Behind the seat lies a functional-looking grab handle, while the LX 125 rear is smartly contoured, again retro, but simple with an edgy stop lamp and turn indicators. An all-metal body should endure the LX 125 with robustness, as opposed to most Indian plastic-body scooters of today. However, fit and finish and quality on the scooters to leave Baramati remain a question mark for now.
The LX 125 for India will deploy a 124cc, four-stroke, fuel-injected, air-cooled single cylinder engine. 125cc is a favourite displacement for Vespas, the Italian manufacturer having often given its vehicles similar capacity engines over six decades. Peak power output is a decent 10.7bhp at 8250rpm, while maximum torque will be 0.97kgm at 6500rpm. Its automatic CVT transmission, coupled with decent power and torque, should help the LX 125 deliver ample performance and offer convenience in Indian traffic conditions.
The front suspension is a single-side, linked arm with hydraulic shock absorber and coil spring, the rear suspension comprises a hydraulic shocker, adjustable for preload. The LX 125 uses a purposeful 200mm front disc brake, with a conventional 110mm drum behind.
With the pricing yet to be announced, indications are that the LX 125 will be dearer that its competition, with premium positioning. It is yet to be seen if the Indian market will accept premium scooters, shell out that difference in money and make a lifestyle statement. Only time and a India road test will give the answer.
Keywords: Vespa LX 125