It had to be thought of
It’s amazing it has taken this long for someone to think of it…The Piaggio MP3 LT is a scooter that you can ride on a car license. How? Why? You might well ask…well, it’s a three-wheeled scooter.
It has caused something of a stir, because it is not a two-wheeler, nor is it a car. It cannot, however, be used without a license. The question is, does it make sense? The answer to that question comes at the end of this test.
With this model, Piaggio is hoping to build on the success of the MP3 as well as facing up to the biggest criticism of the 125 – that it’s too heavy and not powerful enough to be used out of an urban environment. The LT offers a safe solution, because a little bit of power is sometimes needed to get out of tricky situations.
The two versions of the MP3 LT – the 250 and the 400 – have a bit more bite than the 125, so will appeal to a new audience.
In order to meet homologation criteria, the front track of the MP3 LT (large tread) has to be more than 460mm. So, it’s 465mm – 4.5cm more than its predecessor.. It gets an integral braking system, complete with pedal, which might bring back memories of a certain old Vespa for some of you. Add indicators and double front lights and you’ve got pretty much everything you need. Piaggio has taken the opportunity to revise the styling of its three-wheeled machine, mainly at the front end.
Note the blue tint on the lights and the windscreen and the hand grips with integrated storage. The rear seat storage is as practical as ever, opening by remote control.
Both engines get injection power. The 250cc unit generates 22.5bhp, while the 400cc manages 34. In relationship to the weight – 210kg – it’s not far off the ratios of a space rocket!...
Before even gripping the handlebars, it’s easy to see the main difference from the first generation MP3.
An extra 4.5cm makes a difference. The front has a greater inertia, and you almost have to learn how to control it all over again. You have to react like in a car, with small corrections to the steering. The brakes are still very good, and the 14inch rear wheel helps improve the road-holding.
At launch, we tried the 250. With good acceleration, it handles well and has a reasonable amount of power. It’s a sort of super 125, improving on the standard offering and noticeably better on A roads and motorways.
The 400, on test here, is something else. With torque at the bottom end and power at the top, it has something of a large single-cylinder bike sound about it, which is no bad thing at all.
Longer, and 6cm wider, not to mention heavier than the 250 and with at higher seat, the 400 takes a bit of getting used to. To start with, the weight on the front end is off-putting, as it gives you the impression of refusing to turn into the corner, with a rear end that seems to push it round. This is a long way from the 125!
On a longer ride, it becomes a bit more natural, allowing you to appreciate the power and performance of the engine. It’s a power that you can stop either with the traditional levers, or with the pedal. Getting the pressure on the brakes just right is something of an art, as is finding the right driving position – the pedal prevents you from keeping your legs symmetrical. If you use it, of course. It is extremely effective when it comes to heavy breaking, though.
Something of an oversight for a GT scooter like this, designed to be used on long journeys, is that the windscreen doesn’t offer much protection. We would recommend the optional larger screen. Keep an eye on the range, too – the tank is only 12 litres.
Back to the question of whether the concept works. Well, for the 400, the answer is not really if you don’t have any two-wheel experience. Bu then, Piaggio does offer a training course, which is likely to be very worthwhile with the 400. The 400 itself costs 7799 euros, which is no small fee.
The 250 is easier to get to grips with, offering a good response for extra-urban riding and providing a safe experience. That said, at 6799, it’s not exactly cheap either.