Hands-on with the 2015 Vespa Sprint

For Vespa, the 2014/2015 model year has been all about new small-frame models. Centered around Piaggio’s new 3-valve 150cc engine, three new Vespa models for North America have now landed in dealers. Starting with the 946 early this year, then the Primavera and most recently, the Sprint. All three models (plus the Piaggio Fly 150) share that new 3V engine and same basic footprint, but more so than in previous generations, each of these new Vespa small-frame scooters has details unique to each model. In the new 2015 Vespa Sprint, you might assume that it’s just a Primavera with a different headlight. Well, you’d be wrong.

The Vespa Sprint has a short list of key details that set it apart from its older sibling, the Primavera:

• Larger, 12″ front wheel and unique rims
• Unique headset and headlight shape
• Unique mirrors
• ABS
• Slightly different seat profile

Overall, these details point to the key difference in the Sprint: its model positioning. Unlike the previous relationship between the Vespa LX150 and the Vespa S, in which the S was actually the less-expensive, down-market option in North America; the new Vespa Sprint is actually intended as the nicer of the two scooters. With available ABS and slightly nicer touches all around, the Sprint earns its slightly higher asking price.

In person, the 2015 Vespa Sprint continues a trend started with the 946. That is, Vespa has really focused on design and fit-and-finish — something for which they were already leading the scooter segment. If the Vespa S felt like a cheaper LX, the Sprint absolutely feels like a nicer Primavera. As we said in both our hands-on review and our first ride review, the Primavera itself a significant update over the scooter it replaces, the LX150.

For all the unique details on the Sprint, it can’t be ignored that otherwise, it’s 85% identical with the new Primavera. That is, aside from the ABS, it’s functionally identical. The Sprint has the same engine, same underlying chassis/body, same suspension setup and the same 946-inspired horn cast. Yet in this case, that’s a good thing. As we’ve said in other articles, the Primavera is a great scooter. Like the Primavera, the Sprint shares my same complaint: the hand controls. The grips look like a cheap after thought. The high/low switch is too similar to the turn indicator switch, and both feel cheap and flimsy.

Handlebar dressing aside, the Sprint does have a nicely updated gauge set. An analog speedometer is supported with additional information from a small, backlit LCD screen. As with the Primavera, under-seat storage is surprisingly deep and spacious. One would have no problem fitting a large, full-face helmet inside. Yet with dual helmet hooks, that space would be better served for riding gear or the spoils of errand running.

All in all, given the significant step up in design and build quality in the Primavera, we weren’t surprised in the least to find the Sprint just as well put together. Besides taking this variant decidedly up-market, the opportunity presented by the Sprint is really in Vespa having two distinct models in the small-frame class. Giving Vespa customers two very good, but significantly differentiated models is a good move, in our opinion. The previous LX/S models were just too similar, and while the Primavera/Sprint are identical in the ways I’d want them to be, they’re distinct to each other in ways that provide an interesting choice to scooter shoppers. Want ABS? Then the Sprint has you covered. Prefer the round headlight? The Primavera is still a terrific option.

We’ll have riding impressions shortly, and stay tuned for a bigger comparison piece between the Sprint, Primavera and the exclusive Vespa 946.

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