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Vespa has been in the Indian market for quite some time now with their line of scooters and they have had reasonably good sales numbers as well considering their positioning in the premium segment. At a time when there was very little variety in the Indian scooter market, they’ve been a breath of fresh air for those who could afford to spend more. They pushed the envelope once again recently when they launched their range of 150cc scooters – Vespa VXL and SXL, the largest engine capacity scooters in India. A very bold decision we must say considering that no other manufacturer has thought of venturing into the territory of ‘maxi scooters’ in India as yet.
We got to ride the Vespa VXL and SXL recently in Pune and here’s what we think of them. Both these scooters, the VXL & the SXL, are available in the 125 cc variant as well. Visually the only thing that differentiates between a 125 cc and the 150 cc VXL and SXL is the 150 badge on the rear left of the scooter. Everything else just looks the same. But since we’ve already covered the 125 ones, we’ll focus on the bigger Vespas in this article.
Styling wise, both the SXL and VXL have been able to maintain classic retro styling that Vespa is known for. They are available in a range of bright attractive colours, including with a matte finish. The paint quality is just top class. There’s just the right amount of chrome thrown in here and there, including around the headlights and fully chrome rear view mirrors. Both these scooters also come fitted with trendy alloy wheels with single sided suspension at the front and rear. Here the SXL gets the blackened alloy instead of the regular ones on the VXL. The handlebar grips are comfortable. The switchgear is borrowed from the earlier Vespas that are available in India and the quality of plastic on them is good. The overall fit and finish of the scooter is typical Vespa like – impeccable. The front of the scooter has been tweaked a bit. There is a new oyster-shaped digital console that has a fuel gauge, trip meter, and a clock to keep a check on time. The speedometer remains an analogue unit.
There’s ample spacing on both the scooters in the form of underseat storage that is good enough to keep a half face helmet along with other small items. There is storage option provided just below the handlebar as well in the form of 2 small pockets on the SXL, which is just good enough to keep small items like spare keys, etc. The VXL gets a lockable storage space, which is handy if you want to keep your belongings like documents, etc. safe. Other major differences between the SXL and the VXL are the shape of the headlights – The SXL has a rectangular headlight while the VXL gets a rounded one. There is no rear grab rail in the SXL either.
The steel monococque chassis of the new Vespa duo, a standard with all Vespas sold in India, gives them a very solid feel while riding and instils confidence in the rider. The riding stance is pretty upright and the ride doesn’t feel cramped. The hydraulic suspension setup did feel a ‘little’ stiff on the bumpy roads, though it wasn’t really a deal breaker. A telescopic suspension at the front would’ve made things better. The wider Maxxis rubber provided good grip in general, but it didn’t inspire much confidence while riding on wet tarmac. Braking did feel sufficient and progressive with the 200 mm single disc at the front and 140 mm drum at the rear.
Now we come to the most interesting part – the 150 cc single cylinder, air-cooled carburetted engine that has been put in the Vespa VXL and the SXL makes them the most powerful scooters in the country as of date. This engine makes 11.6 PS of power at 7000 RPM and 11.5 Nm of torque at the 5500 RPM mark, which is delivered to the rear wheel via CVT transmission.
The ‘upgrade’ in power figures is readily noticeable as soon as you jump from their smaller capacity siblings onto the bigger Vespa. The engine does have more grunt and is quicker off the mark. It has got a sweet midrange and the power delivery is smooth without any major peaks or troughs, which makes it an ideal machine for commuting in the city and also cruising on the highways while maintaining a decent speed even with a pillion on board. It feels smoother as well across the rev range without any noticeable vibrations.