Review of the Vespa S 150
Jordana strikes again! This time, on a new Vespa S 150 equipped with fuel
injection. In previous reviews, I have inserted a "Jordana Says" icon at her
contributions. This time, I'm only covering the introduction and then turning
things over to Jordana. I'm sure you'll agree - she did a much better job than I
usually do on these scooter reviews. Though she mentions these in the body of
the review, I'll just through out the answers to the "big" questions right away:
The 2010 Vespa S 150i has a base price of $4,399, it got about 82
Miles-Per-Gallon during the review, the top speed was 58 Miles-Per-Hour, and the
speedometer was a bit under 10% optimistic.
I made a comparison table of the Vespa against the Genuine Buddy and Piaggio Fly
and will include that for reference to the specifications.
face it: there is just something about a Vespa. Though I am by no means a brand
snob, there is something about that iconic Italian scooter that feels
authentically cool. Maybe I love all things European. Or perhaps I have been
seduced by decades of marketing that tell me the Vespa is the scooter of
Piaggio, the company that produces the Vespa brand, was founded in Genoa, Italy
in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio, a maker of luxury ship fittings. After World War II,
Piaggio began looking for an easily manufactured transportation solution that
would help rebuild war-ravaged Italy. The result was the 1947 Vespa (which means
“wasp” in Italian).
Jump ahead 63 years and the basic Vespa shape and design philosophy is still
intact. Using the “if it ain’t broke” approach, the 2010 Vespa S 150ie still has
the pressed steel monocoque (think “unibody”) chassis utilized by the 1947
models. While great strides in engines, transmissions, electrical components,
and braking have been made, the 2010 Vespa lineup still retains the character of
its 63-year-old iconic grandparents.
in part to its rich history and timeless looks, I admit to being practically
giddy when the tangerine orange review Vespa S 150ie showed up in my garage.
Since I had never ridden one before, I was terribly curious if it would live up
to the high expectations I had for it.
“S” in the name is a reference to “seventies,” as its throwback styling harkens
back to the disco era, with a chunky rectangular headlight being its most stand
out design feature. Now, normally I don’t believe that anything from the decade
in which I was born should be considered “retro,” nor do I think the 70s have
too much we should be bringing back, aesthetics-wise, but the Vespa S is a
notable exception. While it shares the same general classic Vespa silhouette as
the LX 150, the slightly nipped in front end with the rectangular headlight and
rearview mirrors set it apart from its more rounded counterparts. Not only do I
love the look of the matching rectangular mirrors, the larger size allowed me to
capture a lot more of the traffic and obstacles around me, which is always a
Despite its dashing good looks, I was fully expecting the S to be a bit of a dog
in the performance department. With
a longer wheelbase, taller seat height and weightier metal construction than my
zippy, plastic Buddy 150, but with the same engine size, it was pretty easy to
jump to that conclusion. But thanks to a fuel-injected engine, the S made up for
its larger size with buttery smooth and responsive acceleration. I was very
pleasantly surprised with the larger Vespa’s handling and overall mechanical
performance, though cornering and other fine maneuvers weren’t quite as tight as
the smaller Buddy. Braking was excellent and responsive. The monocoque
construction of the Vespa allows it to effectively absorb most road chatter,
including even outsized manhole covers that I normally feel.
Design-wise, the larger size took a bit of getting used to. While in riding
position, the higher seat height was extremely comfortable, and it felt more
secure to have a slightly higher vantage point on the road. Sitting at a
was a different story. Initially it felt awkward to reach so far to the ground,
but the feeling disappeared rather quickly. It bears mentioning for a petite
person considering the Vespa S – definitely test out your comfort level with the
seat height at a dealership first.
riding position and the seat are both incredibly comfortable. It felt so
ergonomically correct for me I wouldn’t have been surprised to discover that the
seat was designed by Herman Miller. It isn’t – apparently this is a stock Vespa
seat, but believe me, you’ll think it’s an upgrade. Long commutes would be a
pleasure. It was like sitting in my favorite easy chair but way more fun. Adding
to the comfort of the scooter is the way the front end, handlebars and controls
seem to wrap themselves toward and around the driver. This was a very similar
feeling to that of my first car, a 1985 Saab, where all the controls were subtly
oriented for the driver’s comfort. While I don’t find my Buddy at all
uncomfortable, the difference was significant. With my Buddy, I sit on the
scooter. With the Vespa S, it felt more like I was sitting in the
place I felt the S misses the mark on comfort was the span between the brake,
turn signals and horn. While I don’t exactly have the hands of a basketball
player, I like that I can effectively cover both the brake and the horn on my
Buddy at the same time. I simply do not trust other drivers and often find
myself prepared to lay on the horn and the brake if anyone so much as thinks
about crossing my path of travel. The Vespa’s horn was just ever so slightly out
of my easy reach.
remaining controls and displays are convenient. The main display has a large and
easy-to-read speedometer, a handy clock, a low-fuel warning light, and a
comically detailed gas gauge for those of you who find it pressing to discern
between 5/16ths of a tank and 7/16ths.
speedometer runs about 10% generous, which is fairly standard across the scooter
board. Top speed is approximately 60mph, plenty for most in-city errands and
commuting needs, but substantial enough to handle the freeway if you have a
devil-may-care attitude about your life. Do yourself a favor and don’t trust the
low-fuel gauge. While I didn’t verify its accuracy, I’d rather take 10 seconds
to peek in the gas tank than discover it doesn’t work at the most inopportune
time. That being said, the rather large tank (2.3 gallons) and generous fuel
efficiency (~80mpg) will have you going longer between fill-ups no matter which
method you choose.
Probably due to its aforementioned streamlined front end, the S does not have a
full on lockable glove box like
some other Vespas. Similar to the Buddy, this version has an open “pocket” area
on the steering column; though don’t expect to fit much in there. I could get my
garage door opener in one pocket and my small wallet and cell phone crammed into
the other. If you often use your scooter for a morning coffee run, this little
storage area will not accommodate your vente latte, or even a piccolo one. There
is, however, ample under seat storage and a single helmet lock. There is also a
bag hook on the steering column that accommodated my large work bag nicely,
allowing it to rest comfortably and safely between my feet.
This gorgeous ride comes in three solid colors (red, black and orange) and two
horizontal striped combos (blue-white and red-white) with two-tone seats that
will make your heart burst with longing.
pros of the Vespa S far outweigh its pithy list of cons. It is easily the
smoothest and most comfortable scooter I
have driven. There is, however, one major con that hasn’t yet been discussed:
the price. Vespa has a produced a high-quality product in the S 150ie, and with
their prestigious name attached to it, they’re not afraid to make a profit. With
an MSRP around $4,400 the S will cost you a pretty penny on top of just being
most cases, my practicality would take over and I’d say you’re just paying for
the brand name. However, the performance of the S, its armchair-like comfort and
its striking good looks (come on, I’m human) build a strong case for being
worthy of a splurge.