Scooters are as economical and practical as you can get these days, with dozens of choices, but Vespas occupy premium pricing and are aspirational lifestyle machines. With a 155cc engine, a bare minimum of features, and a starting price of P195,000, the Primavera S is not for penny pinchers. Yet at the end of the long weekend, I’d fallen in love with it and come to understand what makes it so desirable.
Just look at it — upright fairing with just a bit of slant, that little “necktie,” retro round headlamp, wasp-like butt, and relatively tiny wheels. It’s a modern take on a 60s era scooter, and so unique and cheerful compared to the racy, sci-fi look of the average Japanese scooter. If retro is your thing, Vespas rock.
That thick, sculpted seat is as good as it looks. The back half is raised for pillion riders, while the raised hump keeps you from sliding off without pressing into your groin. The handlebars are raised to just above waist height. You can sit upright or slouch a bit and it’s not tiring to hold onto the grips for long periods of time.
Vespa sticks to a steel frame that will withstand the test of time, and this also gives it a reassuring feeling of “mass” at speed so you feel stable at all times. The suspension is firm and well damped, with excellent rebound control over humps.
With front disc and rear drum brakes, modulating braking force is easy with the levers providing good feedback. At the limit of grip, the front wheel ABS helps keep things under control.
Fit and finish
Even though the Primavera is as mass-produced as any other scooter, the attention to detail gives the impression that the workers took more time to put it together flawlessly. The stitching on the seat, the quality of the switchgear, the subtle chrome touches here and there, the precise alignment of all the body panels all speak of high quality.
That drivetrain is smooth
On paper, the 155cc engine is nothing special with just 14 hp, and indeed the Primavera S takes its time getting up to speed. But with a syrupy smooth nature and a responsive CVT, it’s so quiet you can almost imagine it’s an electric motor. You have to really be listening to make out the hushed growl from the exhaust. It’s Euro 3-compliant and sips fuel to the tune of 42 km/l. With its seven-liter fuel tank capacity you’re going to get a lot of range (and cheaply, too).
Like most scooters, the Primavera is a breeze to ride through traffic. Filtering is ridiculously easy. Thanks to the solid frame, you can lean the bike over and it won’t flex and rob you of confidence.
There’s a lockable glovebox with a USB charger port, and underseat storage with a remote button release. The seat has a pullout hook in front for hanging small groceries. If you need more storage, Vespa has a nice collection of front and rear racks, too.
Colors! Colors! Colors!
In a market where color choices are usually black, white, and maybe red, Vespa prides itself on an eye-catching array of colors to choose from. The standard palette offers you a selection of pastel and solid colors, all of which use a thick coat of paint over steel. If that’s not enough and you’ve got the money to spare, Vespa have a beautiful limited run of “Racing Sixties” colorways of Green Bosco and White Innocenza. Want a piece of collectible artwork? There is the highly prized (and priced) Sean Wotherspoon edition.
High Resale Value
While most scooters rapidly depreciate over time, Vespas – like other Italian marques – hold value really well as very few owners are loathe to part with them. Scan the used market and a 2012-2013 LX150 still has an asking price of P130-140,000, which is not that far off from its price when it was brand new. Limited edition models also appreciate in value.
At the end of the day, the Primavera is more than the sum of its parts. In a market where a scooter is treated as a utilitarian mode of transport, the “Prima” does all the things expected of it while injecting a healthy dose of style and charisma. It’s not loaded with features, it’s not a rocket, but it’s a lot of fun to ride and easily charms you into taking it for everything from grocery runs to coffee rides or just breezing around the village.