02/09/2008 00:00 | By By Jane Omorogbe, contributor

Ridden: Vespa GTS 300 Super



Vespa GTS 300 Super (© Image © PA)

After 62 years, 145 different models and production numbers that have more than doubled in the last four years, Vespa has released its largest displacement scooter to date.

The GTS 300 Super looks familiar, but it is sportier than the GTS 250. The rounded rear end is devoid of a luggage rack to give it a more athletic appearance and the side panels incorporate a horizontal grille which is reminiscent of the Vespas from the '70s.

More pictures of the Vespa GTS 300 Super

Vespa GTS 300 Super (© Image © PA)

More flash-backs from the past are highlighted in the two-tone alloy wheel rims, and the splashes of red on the front suspension hints at the scooter's lively nature. But even with those sporty clues, I wasn't ready for just how punchy the single-cylinder Quasar engine proved to be.

There's no better place on earth to test a Vespa than in the heart of Milan at rush hour, with a steady stream of fellow scooter riders all jostling for the same ridiculously small gap between the endless taxis and trams. Slicing though the mayhem requires a certain degree of confidence, both in your ability and that of your vehicle.

Lost in Milan?

Vespa GTS 300 Super (© Image © PA)

To that end, the Vespa is ideal. Not only is it slim enough to filter unobtrusively, it's also extremely agile. As I squeezed through the most marginal of spaces, the follow-my-leader procession of two-wheelers was brought to an abrupt halt.

Not wanting to lose sight of the lead rider in a city that's in a constant state of rush-hour and with no sat-nav to guide me, I whacked the Vespa on full lock and began a new plan of attack. The GTS obliged as readily as a lightweight supermoto. The steering has bags of lock and U-turns and nigh-on-impossible manoeuvres are satisfyingly simply to execute.

Vespa GTS 300 Super (© Image © PA)

Once I'd pushed to the front of the queue, the engine sprang to life the instant the lights flickered green. It punches from a standing start with a sporty vigour that obviously surprised the Gucci wearing commuters around me and left me with a stupid grin on my face.

The 278cc, liquid-cooled engine packs 21bhp at 7,500rpm but feels far livelier than you'd predict. When Vespa boasts about its scooters being ideal for city life and commuting, you know half of the attraction's in the styling. But in the case of the GTS 300 Super, it's undoubtedly in the performance as well.

Grown-up appeal

Vespa GTS 300 Super (© Image © PA)

The handling prowess is attributed to the traditional steel frame. Vespa has used this design since the first model was introduced back in 1946, and it is the only manufacturer to do so, boasting substantially more rigidity than a tube-framed scooter. Its success is evident, everywhere.

And together with a suspension system that's as absorbent as cotton wool, any tramlines, cobblestones or potholes are easily and readily dismissed. The Vespa disguises surface imperfections like heavy duty make up. After finally worming my way to the outskirts of Milan, I found myself on a stretch of highway, being buffeted by strong winds.

Vespa GTS 300 Super (© Image © PA)

Although I tried to unsettle things by wiggling the handlebars and generally attempting to provoke any kind of unsavoury reaction, there was absolutely none to be found. The balanced GTS ignored my behaviour like a strict nanny blanks a naughty child. So I gave in and settled down to an indicated and steady 85mph.

On the more twisty roads that hug the edges of the mammoth city, the Vespa's agility was illuminated. It's been designed for the sportier rider and although I scraped the side-stand briefly when my enthusiasm got the better of me, that's really testimony as to how confident it is to hoon around on.

Hooning around

Although I tried to unsettle things by wiggling the handlebars and generally attempting to provoke any kind of unsavoury reaction, there was absolutely none to be found. The balanced GTS ignored my behaviour like a strict nanny blanks a naughty child. So I gave in and settled down to an indicated and steady 85mph.

On the more twisty roads that hug the edges of the mammoth city, the Vespa's agility was illuminated. It's been designed for the sportier rider and although I scraped the side-stand briefly when my enthusiasm got the better of me, that's really testimony as to how confident it is to hoon around on.

These extras include everything but the kitchen sink: colour-matched top box with a chrome carrier, windscreen, alarm, leg covers and the list goes on. However you'll need a bank balance that's just as sizeable as the list as the top box alone costs £219.99.

This Vespa GTS 300 is exactly as it's described - it's super. And I was prepared not to like it; it didn't seem right to build a big Vespa - it's like putting a 2-litre turbo diesel in a Cinquecento - but they did it and it works really well.

Need to know
Engine
single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four stroke unit of 278cc, producing 21bhp at 7,500rpm and 16.4 ft lb at 5,000rpm.
Power
n/a
Torque
n/a
Top speed (mph)
n/a
Transmission
direct drive, twist and go automatic.
Weight (kg)
148
Seat height (mm)
790
Fuel tank (litres)
9

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