2018 Piaggio MP3 500 launch - first impressions

2018 Piaggio MP3 500

Al's just back from tooling round Paris on the new Piaggio MP3 three-wheeler.

PARIS IN high summer maybe isn't as romantic as in the Spring, but it's definitely a bit crazy. We're just back from a couple of days in the French capital, with one of the highlights being a genuine mini-riot at the Arc de Triomphe after the French football team won their World Cup semi final.

We've mopped the tear gas from our eyes now though, and organising some thoughts on the new 2018 MP3. The basics are much the same - a clever leaning front end, with a locking function, married to a maxi-scooter rear. You can ride it with just a car licence, so Paris in particular is full of the buggers, ridden by commuters bored by traffic jams and public transport.

I'd not ridden one of these for years, but soon got back into the groove. The main trick is nailing the front end lock, switching it on when you come to a stop, then riding away again, without putting your feet down. That skill, allied to one of those scooter aprons, is essential in winter Paris commuting apparently - you get to keep your legs and feet warm and dry...

Front end apart, the rest of the MP3 is not unlike any other maxi-scooter. New engines on the 350 and 500 models give more power and torque, while cutting fuel consumption and meeting Euro 4 regs - all good stuff. The bikes are a bit heavy of course thanks to the front end - 275kg for the 500 and 256kg for the 350. The locking front end makes the weight less of a deal most of the time, and they still accelerate sharply enough to be well ahead of traffic. Brakes are powerful and with ABS and two front tyres, you're happy to haul them on hard. The rear can feel a little slidey at times on real polished city asphalt, but there's traction control on the full range, so you shouldn't end up in trouble.

The 350 is more agile than the 500 for sure, the lower weight really coming across round town. I guess if you were doing a bit distance commute, the extra power of the 500 (44bhp vs 30bhp) would count, but in the city, the smaller bike made more sense.

More on the new 2018 MP3 when we get all our pics...