2015 Vespa Primavera 150: Springtime fresh
There has been considerable gnashing of teeth and rending of garments on scooter forums about the 2015 Vespa Primavera in no way resembling the 1968-74 smallframe.
Um, that’s a good thing.
A similar reaction accompanied the introduction of the new Dodge Dart in 2013. Of course it isn’t just like a 1963 Dart. Automotive engineering advanced by leaps, bounds and a couple of orders of magnitude in the intervening half a century. As the renowned auto journo Brock Yates famously said, “They don’t build cars like they used to. They build them much, much better.”
Same deal here.
My first scooter was a 2003 Vespa ET4. It was a good intro to the world of scooting, and I put over 11000 miles on it before trading it in for the PX. While I was mostly happy with it, there were things about it I found myself thinking I shouldn’t have to put up with in a new vehicle in the first decade of the 21st Century. Things mostly having to do with materials and fit & finish; the plastic bits mostly felt cheap and didn’t fit together so well. Especially the sheaths around the mirror shafts, which didn’t even come close the brochure pix in real life.
While there was some improvement in this regard with the introduction of the LX, the Primavera is simply light-years ahead. It’s more like a new car, with a deep, lustrous paint job and headset and trim pieces that fit together with a precision unmatched by its predecessors. Among other things.
One of the most significant changes from the LX is the Primavera’s revised front suspension. While it still looks like the tail landing gear from a Piaggio P.108 bomber, the spring/shock is attached to the front fork via a hinged mount, instead of being solidly mounted. This allows the suspension to maintain the correct geometry throughout its travel.
You’ll feel the benefit of this redesign every time you head out. While I wouldn’t call it cushy, the Primavera’s ride—even the one I rode, which had less than 10 miles on it—is comfy. The new-bike suspension stiffness of my previous Vespas just isn’t there. I don’t doubt the 11-inch wheels make a contribution, as well.
The glovebox is a bit more spacious, and features thoughtful black plastic pieces that will keep your odds and ends from falling out when you open the door (which you still do by pressing on the key). Of course there will be cases and racks, with and without Vespa logos; after all, most people in this world who bought ETs and LXs use them for everyday tasks like commuting and shopping.
As with the LX and ET, most of your kit & caboodle will be going into the underseat storage bin, which happily continues to rock the “NO PETS” label that is something of a point of pride with modern Vespa owners. While the battery has moved to the floorboard tunnel, allowing the bin to be bigger, it is still not big enough for a full-face or modular helmet. And there’s this big sorta-rectangular bump in the rear corner, which can make stowing some solid things difficult.
If the seat looks familiar, it should be. It’s very similar in shape (but not size) to the one on the GTS. I found it perfectly shaped for my bum. While another annoyance of the ET4 was the placement of the seat lock on the opposite side from the center-stand lever (since moved on the LX) the Primavera now shares the GTS’ solenoid-controlled seat latch. Push the black button with the white undone padlock on the legshield, and the seat pops open. A thoughtful touch, this.
It would not do for the engine to sound like a lawnmower at idle, as was the case with the ET4. The Piaggio corporate 3-valve 150cc engine, which debuted in North America in the Fly 150, cranks with a whoosh-whoosh and burbles smoothly at idle, sounding as refined as you’d expect in a high-end scooter like the Primavera. Or a higher-end machine like the 946, which also shares it.
Of course, having almost 100 lbs less mass to contend with makes the Primavera a much more sprightly performer than that 2-wheeled version of $4 toast. Piaggio’s nervous lawyers peg the top speed at 59 mph (95 km/h), but the engine makes almost 13 horsepower, which I’m thinking should be enough to propel you at freeway speed. The Primavera easily attained the extra-legal pace of traffic on WA 99, which is not a freeway even though people who drive on it treat it like one. And the throttle was nowhere near WOT; the seat of my pants was saying there’s much more speed to be had, if I needed it.
So what’s not to like?
Well, that original Primavera could’ve been yours for a few hundred dollars. The 21st-century edition’s MSRP is nipping at the heels of five grand. Once you add tax, license, freight, setup and negotiable doc fee, heading out the door tops that figure by a not-insignificant amount. Worth it?
When the LX came out, there was considerable discussion among my ET-riding friends about the merits of trading vs. hanging on. A consensus developed: If you like your ET, keep it; if not, trade it in.
In this case, the choice is much more clear. I strongly suspect ET4 and LX riders who take the time to sample a Primavera will end up taking one home. Because Piaggio doesn’t build scooters like they used to.
(Muchas gracias to Danielle at Vespa Lynnwood for the test ride!)
Plus: Looks, feels and rides like a scooter costing almost $5,000.
Minus: It costs almost $5,000.
|Construction:||Pressed steel monocoque|
|Dry weight:||258 lbs (63.5 kg)|
|Length:||73.2 in (1860 mm)|
|Width:||28.9 in (735 mm)|
|Wheelbase:||52.7 in (1340 mm)|
|Seat height:||30.7 in (780 mm)|
|Front susp:||Single trailing link with coil spring and hinged telescopic damper|
|Rear susp:||Swingarm w/adjustable coil spring & telescopic damper|
|Front brake:||7.87 in (200 mm) single hydraulic disc|
|Rear brake:||5.51 in (140 mm) mechanical drum|
|Engine:||154.8cc air-cooled 4-stroke SOHC 3-valve w/EFI and electronic ignition|
|Transmission:||CVT with centrifugal dry clutch|
|Power/torque:||12.9 hp (9.5 kW) @ 8000 rpm/9.44 lb-ft (12.8 Nm) @6500 rpm|