Back in March, we published a story outlining what we’d heard through the Piaggio grapevine regarding upcoming models and changes in the Vespa lineup. Since then, it’s been checkbox after checkbox as Vespa has launched the Primavera and the Sprint right on time. Today we see yet another one of those rumors coming true. The Vespa 946 is seeing its first model refresh with two new colors, a few design tweaks, some new accessories, and a new name: the Vespa 946 Bellissima.
First off, the most obvious updates are the colors. Where the first run of 946s came in dark black and bright cream white, the Bellissima will arrive in a deep metallic blue and silver — two colors that remind us a lot of the early concept colors
the we saw at EICMA in years past.
More noticeable is an update to the seat. Specifically, Vespa seems to have created a seat extension to make the 946 Bellissima workable for a passenger. The current cantilevered seat is beautiful, but not exactly passenger-friendly. The new two-part seat looks to make that more workable. Given the 946’s longer wheelbase overall, riding with a pillion should actually suit it very well.
Also updated are the 946 Bellissima’s wheels. If Vespa is doing anything right these days, it’s in their wheel designs for their new models. The 946, Primavera and Sprint alike all feature wheel rim designs that are far and away the most elegant wheel designs I’ve seen on scooters in a long time. They’ve certainly come a long way from the old 10″ split rims on my P200E. The new 946 Bellissima rims are a variation on the current 946 design, but with a sweeping angle on the rim’s short spokes. The result is a subtle, but pleasant update.
Also in the accessory updates for this new 946, it would appear that the previously optional luggage rack is now standard. Where currently there is a matched leather bag available, Vespa is now adding a spare tire option for the rear rack. I have to chuckle at this, because I imagine that your average 946 buyer probably isn’t the DIY type, and probably doesn’t have the tools with them that it’d take to change a tire. Perhaps AAA will. Still seems like wishful thinking. Yet I doubt the practical considerations of the spare are really the point. I think it’s about tradition. There’s something intangibly great about a spare tire on the back of a Vespa.
Unchanged are the 946 Bellissima’s key features. It’s still going to be hand-built in a specialized corner of the Vespa factory. Each bike will still be assembled by a single person. Its beating heart will remain the 3V engine it has today, and it will continue to feature both ABS and ASR traction control. The 946 Bellissima retains its steel monocoque construction and cast aluminum parts. The overall lines and structural details of the bike also appear unchanged. This refresh is mild, as we expected, yet the updates are interesting nonetheless.