Piaggio’s new X10 scooter was unveiled at EICMA last November, but it was kind of overshadowed by the lovely Vespa Quarantasei retro/future concept. Too bad! After a riding preview through the most prestigious boulevards of Paris, I must humbly reckon that the X10 deserved a lot more attention by the easily distracted media people, yours truly included. The new X10 in fact represents a dramatic evolution in Piaggio’s line of upper-echelon fully faired “armchair” GT scooters. Compared with this new X10, the previous X8 and X9 now appear unmercifully crude and much less capable of delivering the comfort, riding pleasure and safety that Chief Project Engineer Alessandro Bagnoli was able to upload into the X10 project. Also, Chief Designer Marco Landri’s style is fresh and imposing as well as elegant—and it even manages to stay away from the over-abused Flash Gordon spaceship themes that have been lately dominating the market. While there is no doubt that the profile is very smooth and elegant, the front of the X10 might appear a bit too massive at a first glance—but it only takes a few more minutes to see it in the right perspective and appreciate its strong personality.
The wheelbase stretches out to a very substantial 1,625 millimeters (64 inches). If that sounds excessive, the extra long wheelbase only produces very positive results: Firstly, a low, 760mm (30 inches) generously dimensioned seat ensures very comfortable accommodation for two, with a very generous stowage compartment underneath. Secondly, it produces a weight distribution so well-balanced it’s like nothing I’ve previously experienced on a scooter. And that is where the new Piaggio X10 sets itself way ahead of the competition.
Motorcycle-like weight distribution and an equally well-calibrated steering geometry bless it with perfectly neutral, linear and precise steering response. Even on the not-scooter-friendly cobblestone boulevards of Paris— occasionally sprinkled by short showers and constantly swept by a bitchy cold wind—my Piaggio X10 stayed true to course all the time, un-scooterishly surefooted and inviting.
The X10 comes in three displacements: 125cc worth 15 horsepower (intended strictly for the teen market in Europe), 350cc and 500cc, generating 33.3 and 41 hp respectively. Thanks to great design and accurate execution, the X10 remains this side of the 200-kilos/440-pounds dry weight limit, a vital factor that plays a determinant role in the X10’s all-around excellent performance quality. The 350cc version I tested in Paris appears to me the best balanced in terms of performance and fuel consumption. The liquid-cooled SOHC 4-valve single is the latest addition to the Piaggio corral, and was the subject of a previous technical analysis in CW.
This 330cc engine is the most advanced and best performing in its class, with claims of 33.3 hp at 8,250 rpm and 23.8 ft-lbs. torque at 6,250 rpm. Thanks also to its innovative and highly efficient CVT automatic transmission, the very capable 350 unit delivers brilliant acceleration, more than adequate to propel the X10 ahead of the traffic wave and keep it there. Acceleration and throttle response from just about any speed are surprisingly strong, while top speed exceeds 90 mph. And the ultimate confirmation of the superb thermodynamic efficiency of this engine is it does all that while delivering an incredible 82 miles per gallon.
The X10 returned very solid performance and proved very comfortable in the cold and wet weather Paris reserved for my test day, but what sets it way ahead of the competition are its dynamic qualities; it feels incredibly solid as well as safe and inviting. Speaking of safety, the X10 comes with twin 280mm front disc brakes with ABS, traction control, powerful headlights, LED driving lights and even illuminated hand switches. The 500 version features a Marzocchi 41mm front fork, while the 125 and 350 make do with 35mm tubes; all use link-type monoshock rear suspension.
Will the X10 be coming to the U.S.? That’s what the world’s biggest scooter manufacturer is trying to determine right now, we’re told by the importer. Stay tuned.