After WWII, starting from a blank slate Vespa basically defined the idea of personal transportation in Italy. Going back to their original prototype for inspiration, they now hope this Vespa 946 can do the same thing for the 21st century. A completely new bike, the 946 applies a high-tech approach to the traditional scooter look; a new engine returns 129mpg, all the lighting is by LED and safety is boosted by both ABS and traction control. Ciao Bella.

The 946 does adhere to some traditions. The monocoque body doubles as the frame, but instead of the traditional all-steel construction, it incorporates aluminum side plates, fenders, seat unit and handlebars to drop weight. That’ll make it both more efficient and easier to ride.

Also contributing to that ease of use is a wheelbase longer than current long-body models, but steering geometry sharper than that of the short-bodies. More stability and faster steering than either in the 946.

The engine is advanced in its simplicity. To make a good scooter engine, you have to have something that’s cheap to manufacturer, dead reliable, easily serviceable, light and very fuel-efficient. To achieve that, Vespa’s employed a new, three-valve design that shirks liquid-cooling for the simplicity of an air-cooled block. The 125cc four-stroke is being manufactured at the firm’s main facility in Pontedera, Italy, speaking to quality over cost-cutting.

Much attention was paid to fluid dynamics within the cylinder as well as reducing fictional losses by mounting all moving parts, for the first time, on bearings. Equipped with both fuel-injection and a catalytic converter, emissions meet the new Euro3 standard.

That motor develops 11.4bhp at 8,250rpm and 7.9lb/ft of torque at 6,500rpm. That’s a 7.1 percent improvement in power and 10.3 percent in torque over the outgoing 125, all while improving fuel efficiency by 30 percent. Service intervals also increase over the old model, now up to 6,000 miles.

The 946 is still a scooter, just one that uses the latest technology to make it affordable, efficient, fast and reliable.

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