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Review: Piaggio MP3 250 - The Three Wheel Scooter Everyone's Talking About

June 14th, 2010
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With such high fuel prices these days, it’s no wonder that we’re starting to see such a growth in sales of motorcycles and scooters. Add to that, the growing traffic congestion in the major cities, we could only predict that this trend will continue. But for most, the problem with motorcycles and scooter has always been the lack of safety and practicality. It would only make sense for us to go out and see if we could find something that could offer a safe and practical alternative to a car that delivers the thrills of two-wheel motoring.

Enter the Piaggio MP3 250.

Enrico Piaggio is the man, who in 1946, first introduced the world to the now iconic Vespa, a scooter with a unique design and a personality of its own. Just over sixty years on Piaggio has given the world yet another unique vehicle to help with individual mobility.

Piaggio MP3 250

The MP3 250 is a three-wheeled scooter but not with the traditional layout as you may have expected, this scooter has two front wheels and one on the rear. So how does that work? Well, unlike a trike where the suspension is rigid, Piaggio have designed an electro-hydraulic tilt system which allows each of the front wheels to act independently based on how much the scooter leans, which should result in higher levels of grip (and confidence) and a decreased braking distance. It’s a little confusing to understand exactly what happens so think of it like this. Imagine back-in-the-day, cruising around the roller-disco and trying to turn without bending your knees, your going to keep heading straight for that wall. But, by bending your knees and tilting your body, turning is a cinch and the same applies to the MP3 and it’s electro-hydraulic knees.

Piaggio MP3 250

To power the scooter, Piaggio have chosen to adopt the four-stroke, four-valve liquid-cooled engine from the Aprillia Scarabeo 250ie which meets the demanding Euro3 emission standards. On the MP3, it manages to achieve a fuel economy of approximately 4.3L per 100 km which is higher than expected, but this is due to the weight of the scooter. The engine too didn’t feel as powerful as I’d expected so there's 400cc version available for those craving more, but speed isn’t the point to this vehicle; it’s all about a safer riding experience, so lets hit the road.

Piaggio MP3 250

Where most scooters start to get out of their depth once the speedo gets over 50km/h, the MP3 is still right at home and handles just like a motorcycle; it feels completely solid and planted on the road. The three-disc braking system helps to reduce the braking distance by up to 20% compared to other scooters, the suspension soaks up those pot holes and bumps nicely and worrying about slippery tram tracks is a thing of the past (if you live in Melbourne). But all of this culminates and takes scootering (if that’s even a real word) to a new level when it rains. Never before has a scooter offered so much confidence to a rider on wet roads. The MP3 makes light work of acceleration, steering and braking no matter what mother nature has to throw at you and its no wonder, because two front wheels means two times the surface area kissing the road.

Piaggio MP3 250

On top of all this, the MP3 also offers some quirky features; most notable is the tilt-lock. Normally, as you roll to a halt at the traffic lights, you prepare to put your feet down to balance the scooter. But not on the MP3, you have the option of flicking the tilt-lock switch so that the electro-hydraulic system locks-up and stops the scooter from falling over; your feet never need to touch the ground. It takes a little practice to perfect, but once you get it, you won’t believe how many people are amazed by this feature. Just cruising through the streets of Melbourne, we hear people in cars saying “how do you balance like that!?” As soon as you alert them to the fact there are two front wheels, their immediate response is “wicked!” or something of that vernacular. In general, this just seems to be a bit of a head-turner. Everywhere you go, there are always people that can’t help but notice the MP3’s unique styling and character.

Piaggio MP3 250

Practicality has also been considered during the design of this Piaggio. There is a considerable amount of storage space under the seat as well as a chute in the rear which connects to the under seat storage and can even fit my helmet. It’s definitely not a replacement for a small car boot, but it is quite impressive. The Piaggio is also very comfortable and you’d have no problem cruising on a long journey. It has ample space for a passenger on the back, try fitting a pillion on a competing 250cc scooter, aint gonna happen.

Piaggio MP3 250

All round this is a great scooter - Even those with minimal riding experience will enjoy the added confidence boost from the MP3. To own a piece of this marvelous technology will set you back $10,990. At this point in time, there are no true direct competitors other than its bigger brother, the MP3 400, or a very close cousin, the Gilera Fuoco 500, both of which we will be reviewing here on PressPortal soon. If you’re in the market for a scooter of this spec, I would recommend taking the MP3 for a test ride.

Rating 4 out of 5

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