Merely mention the word 'Vespa' and where does your mind go? Does it conjure up images of stylish Italians zooming along stretches of azure coastline paved by ancient cobblestone? Or perhaps it travels back to Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, all '50s chic and full of wide-eyed wonder at the delights of Rome? Personally, I've always been a sucker for the I'm-on-holidays appeal of a Vespa, so when I was given the opportunity to test drive the chic Vespa Sprint last month - I was in.
No matter what romantic notion (or fear) you have about transport of the two-wheeled variety, you can't beat the experience of riding a scooter on a summer's day. And sure, a Vespa doesn't quite possess the grunt and power of a motorbike, but it makes up for it by being far less ear-shatteringly loud, and not to mention obnoxious. In my experience, cruising around the congested streets of Sydney atop a Vespa was one part novelty and two parts convenient - especially during a 38-degree heatwave. Fourteen days of solid rain aside, I can safely say if you hate traffic and parking fines, the benefits of having a scooter are potentially life changing.
Aside from the obvious external attributes (a shiny silver exterior and cherry red leather seats), if you've ever sat in Sydney traffic at peak hour you'll understand mind-numbing pain. So trust me when I tell you that I've never felt more smug and satisfied weaving past angry commuters and irate mums doing the school run in my entire life. Did I mention how economical the Vespa is on fuel? I barely went through a tank in a whole month. And don't get me started on ease of parking... I think I set a record for being in and out of Westfield Bondi Junction.
Let's just say I'm now one of the converted. My only gripe? It's not much fun riding in the rain...
The Vespa Sprint 150 operates on a Piaggio i-Get poer plant with a single cylinder 4-stroke 150cc air cooled engine with electronic injection and 3-valve timing. It comes in six chic colourways and is priced at $6,690. For more details, visit vespa.com.au.