The Vespa 946 is a bit of a unicorn. That is, it’s an example of something manufacturers almost never do. They almost never actually produce the wild concept vehicles they shop around at the industry shows. They almost never actually use the exotic materials making up the concept. Yet not only is Vespa putting the 946 Quarantsei into production, they’re doing it nearly without compromise or concession.
The design is as bold a statement as one could imagine from a contemporary scooter company, and every aspect of this scooter lives to serve that design. Even a pesky thing like practicality doesn’t come into play on the 946. Noticeably absent are both under-seat storage and a front glovebox. Most striking in the design is the 946’s cantilevered seat. It would seam everything we’ve come to expect from a modern scooter has been sacrificed in the name of style and weight reduction.
At the top of that list is the 946’s alleged chassis material: aluminum. Vespa’s iconic metal monocoque chassis is reportedly being built this time in aluminum instead of steel. While this allow would allow for up to a 30% reduction in weight, it would also complicate the manufacturing significantly. Other weight saving steps include air-cooling for the engine and the afore-mentioned lack of storage.
Those uncompromising factors should make the 946 as spectacular to ride as it is to look at. The low weight and modern suspension components should make ample use of the 125cc, 3-valve thumper powering the 946. With an output of 11.4 bhp, the Vespa 946 is pumping out just shy of 2 hp more than a Genuine Buddy 125. Combined with the lightweight, svelte chassis, this thing ought to really move. While not “practical” in the traditional scooter sense, the 946 is expected at a price point that will reflect its vehicle-as-fashion-accessory intentions. Above all else, the 946 exists as a halo product for Vespa — as the scooter all other scooters ought to aspire to for its beauty and its purity of concept.
Yet for all the 946’s design simplicity, it’s sporting significant technology as well. It features both ABS and traction control – no doubt borrowed from other members of the Piaggio family. That 3-valve engine is not only more powerful, it’s more efficient and has lower emissions to boot. These factors add to the 946’s simple sophistication.
I must say, the prospect is stirring. The key questions? What will it cost, and how many will Vespa make? This decidedly up-market scooter will likely only be produced in small numbers, so philosophical discussions as to its mass market appeal aren’t particularly meaningful. This is not a replacement for the LX or the Vespa S. Instead, it’s a bold design statement on the part of the world’s most iconic scooter brand.