Here's the first image of the production Vespa 946. Like the new Moto Guzzi California 1400 (both Vespa and Moto Guzzi are owned by Piaggio Group, along with Aprilia), it's a masterclass in retro-futuristic design, in this case adapting the forms of the original Vespa prototype from 1945 into something definitively modern. Those looks reflect what's beneath the skin too: an all-new motor that returns close to 130mpg, anti-lock brakes and even traction control.

The new motor is an air-cooled, fuel-injected 3-valve 4-stroke. It's a 125 with 11.6bhp at 8,250rpm and 7.6lb/ft at 7,000rpm. Why air cooled? Water pumps and radiators are expensive and scooters are supposed to be cheap. The modern fuel injection system works with a three-way catalytic converter to cut emissions by 30 percent (!) and Vespa says that it will be good enough not only for the current Euro3 standards, but future emissions regulations as well.

The original Vespa MP6 prototype from 1945 inspired the design of this new 946.

Another moden update is a switch to an aluminum (from steel) body. That will cut weight, aiding both fuel efficiency and ease of use. That lightness is reflected in the use of a cantilevered seat. Likely to be the most controversial element of this design, that seat is striking, but does eliminate the practical underseat storage space that's long been a scooter hallmark.

Click here for a large photo of the 946 and follow our comprehensive coverage of next week's EICMA motorcycle show.

comments powered by Disqus